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Chu Chu Rocket

video game review video game review video game review video game review Video Game Review: Chu Chu Rocket Publisher: Sega
Category: Puzzle
Platform: Dreamcast
ESRB Rating: Everyone    Release Date: March 2000

Overall Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 4

Review by Tom Allen
3½ Stars out of 4

Does anyone remember Krusty's Fun House? This sleeper hit, available for the 8-bit and 16-bit Nintendo systems, was one of my favorite puzzle games. Sega uses a similar concept of mindless mice in the aptly titled "Chu Chu Rocket."

Indeed, the mice move like chu chu trains, charging straight ahead without thought or direction. When the mice run into walls, they always turn right. The rest is up to you. Your job is to place arrow markers throughout the game board in an effort to guide these mice from outer space into their rockets.

The space cats are always trying to eat the mice, and to make matters worse, you can only have three arrow markers on the screen at one time. The game can be learned in a few seconds, and you may surprise yourself with your intelligence. Impossible puzzles like B2 and D3 turn out to be a piece of cake with a little thought and perseverance.

Keep this game away from your mother if you want to play your Dreamcast again. If you thought adult addiction to Tetris was bad, just wait until Mom gets a hold of this one.

Actually, this game presents a great opportunity. You can go online, charge up a storm, then let Mom loose on Chu Chu's internet play capability, and when the bill comes, you can blame it all on her.

Yes, Chu Chu Rocket is the first multi-player online console game. Of course, a single-player mode is available as well, with over 100 puzzles.

You can even design your own puzzles, one of the game's most outstanding features. I'm still waiting for a product that lets you design your own 8-bit Mario game.

The Dreamcast Network, accessed via the Dreamcast's 56K modem, allows players to set up private rooms on the internet to play against friends in their own homes, or you can use open rooms and battle complete strangers, with whom you can chat and send e-mail. Sega does smut checking, so you can't tell someone to stick it where the sun don't shine. This feature alone could be a lot of fun. Just what can you slip by the censors? Diggus Bickus? Who says the Internet doesn't promote creativity?

Sega wisely incorporated latency into the game's design. Knowing that not everyone may be connected at the same speed for online play, Sega created a one-second lag between a button press and the intended result. All players will thus experience the same amount of latency. The lag is not irritating as long as you know the reason behind it; the feature exists to ensure fair game play. Latency may occur if:

a) your Internet Service Provider (ISP) does not support a 56K modem
b) your phone cord exceeds 25 feet
c) multiple phones are connected to the same jack (for example, a fax or cordless phone and the Dreamcast in a jack splitter
d) the phone line from the house to the main line can not support the speed
e) your ISP is not routed to your home with maximum efficiency

After playing so many high quality Dreamcast games lately, I now understand why so many people were dedicated to the Sega Genesis. Sega really does know how to put out quality titles and develop a sense of community. Chu Chu Rocket is a prime example of Sega's commitment to providing fun and unique innovations to console gaming, while at the same time expanding the concept of a console system. Chu Chu Rocket is highly recommended for all players.

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