although my first foray into the sega dreamcast library was fairly random, there were several dreamcast-exclusives that were high on my list of games to check out. among them was the party puzzler chuchu rocket!, created by none other than the sonic team. i’m not exactly sure where i first heard about the game, but it looked like a colorful, quirky sega game, and although it’s not that well known those who do talk about it give it positive reviews.
the entry at wikipedia gives a good run-down of the space-mice-guiding, space-cat-avoiding gameplay (according to the manual chuchus are not mice; they’re space mice). i enjoyed the frantic pace of the multiplayer mode at first and definitely appreciated the style, well within the usual flashy-but-fun sega aesthetic, but i lost interest once i realized the game doesn’t require very much strategy: the outcome changes so quickly that winning involves more luck than skill. there are two other modes, stage mode in which you place arrows in real time to direct the space mice to their rocket, and puzzle mode where you’re given a limited number of arrows to position before setting the space mice and space cats loose on their fixed paths, rather like setting a rube goldberg contraption in motion. the former gets prohibitively difficult without another player to help out, but fortunately the puzzle mode is worthwhile enough that it makes up for the deficiencies of the other two modes. beating the stages in puzzle mode oftentimes ends up being a matter of trial and error, particularly for stages that are highly dependent on the movement speed of each space mouse or cat, but many of the stages are so ingenuous that the entertainment comes as much from finding the solution as just the act of setting the chuchu machine in motion and watching it chug along. the game apparently includes 100 of these puzzles and allowed users to submit levels online; apparently 2500 of them were included in the game boy advance release of the game. although i enjoyed beating a fair number of the puzzles in the dreamcast version, 2500 more seems like overkill. still, once i get through the dreamcast puzzles i’ll know where to head to next.
chuchu! make way for a rocket-full of space mice links!
– if you’re looking for wallpapers, the game disc actually includes some. rad!
– FAQ at gamefaqs
– list of unlockables at gamespy.com
– a review of the GBA game (apparently a launch title) at nintendojo.com