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Chu Chu Rocket HD Review (iPad)

Chu Chu Rocket HD - IP Screenshot - 809582

Years ago, when the Dreamcast ruled supreme in the gaming market (before Sega dumped it for third-party waters), it brought with it several great classics that live on to this day. Among them is Sonic Team’s Chu Chu Rocket, a ridiculously entertaining puzzle game where arrows are used to guide space mice towards their awaiting rockets, while avoiding pits of death or, worse yet, crazy-eyed cats. The puzzle game made its long-awaited return to iPad – and boy, was it worth it.

Like the original, there are several modes to choose from, including Tutorial (where is the starting point to unlock the other modes), Puzzle (solving pre-made puzzle stages), Challenge (attempt to save as many mice as possible) and Multiplayer Battle. Puzzle is probably the best place to start, as provides insight on how Chu Chu’s gameplay works. Basically, you lay down arrows to guide the mice in the right direction, making sure they stay out of harm’s way. It gets trickier as you go along, though, thanks to more elaborate stage designs and even more dangerous cats wandering about.

What makes the gameplay work better on the iPad is the touch screen. In the original Dreamcast version, you had to drag an on-screen cursor around using your analog stick. Here, you simply swipe on the screen to place your arrows, and tap them once to put them back. Other than tapping the Start button to get the mice moving (and Cancel if you make a mistake), that’s really about it. But it works extraordinarily well, to the point that you’ll find yourself saying, “Just one more level!”

Once you’re done with Puzzle, Challenge should keep you busy for a while, with its numerous stages of cat avoidance and mice rescue. Where you’ll really get your money’s worth is through Multiplayer Battle. Though the game doesn’t support online play (a sad omission considering the original DC game did), it does provide four-player split-screen, so you and your friends can lay arrows down like crazy to get the most mice possible. What’s even better is sabotaging their rockets by sending hungry cats their way, forcing them to lose points. This is as addictive as iPad multiplayer gaming gets.

Chu Chu Rocket looks and sounds as charming as the Dreamcast original. The graphics are simple, consisting of playfields with running mice and cats, but they’re designed with the same Sonic Team charm. The music’s fun to listen to as well, made up of fun little ditties that keep you going. You’ll dread hearing the victory cry of a space cat, though. MRRRROWWWWW!

You owe it to yourself to check out Chu Chu Rocket for the iPad. The iPhone version is all right, but the tiny screen makes it hard to draw arrows. It’s much easier on the tablet-sized screen, and more fun to play multiplayer with friends in the same room. Even if you’ve never owned a Dreamcast, this game of cat-and-mouse will instantly hook you. Tsubabababa!

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Robert Workman
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