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Showing posts with label Game Boy Advance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Game Boy Advance. Show all posts

A Brief History Of ChuChu Rocket! In Your Pocket

ChuChu Rocket! is a puzzle game that is undoubtedly a product of a struggling Sega. Imaginative, innovative, insane - one of the many one-of-a-kind experiments that was thrown at a wall in the Sega headquarters in the hopes that something would eventually stick and save the Dreamcast once and for all. Maybe this attempt to stand out was what led Sonic Team to create not just one of the most memorable puzzle games on the Sega Dreamcast, but one of the best and most memorable puzzle games ever made.
For the uninitiated, the premise of ChuChu Rocket! is simple. You place directional arrows on a checker board to guide mice (the titular ChuChus) to rocket ships, all whilst making sure they don't get eaten by giant orange cats that look like they are perpetually tripping on acid.
The guiding brainless animals to safety thing had been done eight years prior by DMA Design's Lemmings, but Sonic Team managed to take the concept and push it to the brink of madness whilst also throwing in a bonkers multiplayer mode and online play (that's still available today thanks to DreamPi). It serves as a high quality break for any Dreamcast fan who has sunk hours into deeper experiences like Shenmue or Phantasy Star Online who just wants to play something simple whilst also having an absolutely cracking time.

These days, with smart phones being in everyone's pockets, puzzle games that are easy to pick up and play function as perfect time wasters on a morning commute or even when we just can't be bothered to do anything else. Sadly, as I'm sure many of us can all agree, the vast majority of smartphone puzzlers are trite, micro-transaction ridden nonsense. But what if we could take a stellar puzzler like ChuChu Rocket! and play that in the palm of our hand instead? That would make perfect sense, right? Well it turns out that Sega did see ChuChu's portable potential...



Dreamcast On The Go With Nintendo Game Boy Advance

We recently took a look at the PS Vita, and more specifically some of the titles that are available for Sony’s sleek yet neglected handheld which have their roots on the Dreamcast. While many of the games in that article feature alterations and improvements over their originators, they all keep the same basic gameplay and – most importantly – allow a whole new generation of gamers to experience the magic of the Dreamcast. It’s true that many of us in the Dreamcast community take it for granted that we were there the first time around and got to experience the Dreamcast when it was new and exciting, and in a way the re-release of certain Dreamcast titles on contemporary platforms allows younger gamers the opportunity to enjoy what we felt back then. Probably why there’s so much call for Shenmue remasters…but that’s a whole different topic for another day.
When I wrote about the PS Vita’s small but perfectly formed Dreamcast-derived library, I also mentioned my love for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance and here I will repeat what I iterated there: the Game Boy Advance SP is my favourite handheld of all time. While I do own a Game Boy Micro and an original Game Boy Advance, it is the SP (or more specifically the AGS 101 backlit model) which is my go-to handheld whenever I want a break from my Vita. For me, it is the greatest handheld ever crafted; there’s just something about that amazing screen, the pleasing form factor and the superlative library of ‘perfect for handheld’ first and third party games.

That said, the Game Boy Advance is also a console that offers a multitude of titles that could be seen as extensions of games that first appeared on the Dreamcast. When you consider that the console was released into the immediate power vacuum after the Dreamcast’s demise (with the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox all circling over the corpse) it was a smart move on Sega’s part to allow IPs that were still fresh in most peoples’ minds to receive ports and spin offs on Nintendo’s seminal handheld - even if the majority of them weren't actually developed or published by Sega. The most intriguing aspect of this glut of semi-sequels and supplemental releases, is that a lot of them were so technically ambitious and eschewed the familiar 'top down' or 'side scrolling' approach usually afforded to similar releases on the Game Boy Color, for example.
Developers embraced the limited 3D capabilities of the Game Boy Advance and let their imaginations flourish, heralding a whole new era in console-to-handheld ports...with mixed results. Some of the console to handheld ports are marvels of their time, with cunning workarounds and developer technical expertise laid bare; while others tried to capture the essence of their console brethren and lost something in the jump from the TV screen to the pocket (something that is no longer an issue thanks to the Switch). Anyway, let’s put the kibosh on the procrastination and take a look at some of the Dreamcast games that got a second shot at glory - for better or worse - on the Nintendo Game Boy Advance...