Chu Chu Rocket was originally a Dreamcast game and was well known for the fact that it was one of the first to support online play. That was online play over the analog 56K modem that came with each Dreamcast. Now you can have the same game in the palm of your hand working over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But as technology improves, Chu Chu Rocket shows that you don’t need drastic improvements to make a game fun. In fact, this game looks pretty much exactly the same as it did on the Dreamcast bypassing the need for a series reboot or reimagining of the original material.
The single player portion of Chu Chu Rocket is more like a puzzle. It actually reminds me of the old Incredible Machine games on the PC, albeit this is less complex. Basically you hit a start button where your mindless mice will move until they hit an obstacle. Your goal is to place obstacles and items to divert them away from cats towards their ultimate destination, a rocket ship. In order to do this, you have to think ahead of your mice and predict where they will go. The game is pretty lenient in that you can start the clock and look at where they will end up before you help them change directions. You can try as many times as you need until you get it right. But as the game goes on, the number of steps you need to think ahead grows as the difficulty increases.
On the other hand, the multiplayer portion of Chu Chu Rocket is in real-time and works at a much faster pace than the single player puzzles. Chu Chu Rocket morphs into a game similar to Bomberman where your mice will start moving and in real-time fashion, you have to either remove or place obstacles to get them to their target destination. In the midst of all this chaos are up to three other players who will be doing the same thing, but they can also sabotage your train of mice as well. This leads to a fast paced addictive romp mixed with powerups that can reduce scores to zero or shuffle your starting positions around.
Now to the bad part of the game. Chu Chu Rocket crashes at random moments. Sometimes it’s the loading screens to get into the main menu. Sometimes it’s after you select the type of game you want to play. Sometimes it can be in the middle of gameplay. I was tempted to launch the game again and see how much further I can get but eventually the game will stop progressing past a certain point. To correct this, I rebooted my iPhone but a few days later when I try to launch this game again, a similar phenomenon happens.
The other thing that doesn’t work well is the multiplayer. Artificial intelligence substitutes for missing players and was literally how I reviewed this game but I couldn’t find an opponent to play any of the games. The problem is I didn’t know whether there were no players online or whether the game was stuck trying to make a connection because all it would display is a please wait type message. I ended up trying Wi-Fi from two different countries and still had no luck finding an online game. The Bluetooth option went untested by me.
Chu Chu Rocket is an entertaining game. The pace of the single player portion seems ideal for mobile play while the quick bursts in the multiplayer segment won’t demand multi hour sittings. If only some of the crashing issues were resolved, I’d be able to wholeheartedly recommend it. The multiplayer also needs expanded functions to let players browse for and select games rather than having the game automatically attempt to connect you to one.