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iPhone game of the day: ChuChu Rocket!

Game: ChuChu Rocket!
Price: $2.99 / £1.79
Size: 13.7MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK 

ChuChu Rocket! is one of those games that immediately defines whether you were a Sony or Sega player a decade ago. If you see the name and come alive with stories about this Dreamcast original's frantic puzzle/action gameplay, the more cerebral puzzles that made the Game Boy Advance version even better, and its insane Japanese commercial, you were clearly a Dreamcast die-hard with exquisite taste.

On the other hand, if seeing the name doesn't do anything for you because you have never played the game or you [gasp] think it sucks, you're a Sony or Nintendo apologist, a disgrace to gaming who should not be allowed to ever play a shooter or platformer again until you've experienced and testified to the glory of ChuChu Rocket!, and possibly a simply horrible person. Too harsh? Maybe, but this is no time for platform-specific loyalties. This is bigger than Sega vs Sony vs Nintendo. This is cats and mice and spaceships, and if it had debuted on any other console it would have been one of the defining games of an entire generation. 

The game plays like a puzzle version of the cartoon Tom & Jerry. The ChuChus are cute little mice that zoom around the checkerboard-like playfield in a straight line and turn 90 degrees clockwise (to their right) when they hit a wall. Your job is to lay down arrows to direct them away from the gaping maws of the monstrous orange cats prowling around each level and into the safety of their getaway rocket ships.

In 2-4 person multiplayer or solo challenge mode, with the arrows coming and going in real time and cats and mice charging around all over the place, it's manic. In puzzle mode, which enables you to lay the arrows down before the cartoon critters start streaking across the playfield, it's more cerebral and challenging in a markedly different, arguably even more fantastic way.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the iPhone and iPad versions, in which you place your arrows by touching the spot you want the arrow to appear and swiping your finger in the direction you want it to point, are great. The only possible complaint we could muster is that it takes a bit of practice to aim your swipes. Just buy it.  You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to gaming as a whole.

Nov 15, 2010

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