Sega thought it was so important it shipped the quirky game with the console for free in some regions, with others getting a free copy after registering their console with the dreamcast’s online service. The games was well received, and although the online mode was laggy and difficult to set up, it worked and was popular for its day.
So, now the game gets a rerelease on the iPhone and iPad(version reviewed), this sounds like a match made in heaven; an always online device married to the first big online console game. Only, there is something missing. The online part.
Thats right, the game feature local Bluetooth and WiFi play, but, inexplicably no Internet play. It’s a bizarre omission, and I can only think that Sega thought the game wouldn’t sell enough to warrant setting up any servers, or that the online segment is still in development and will be released in a future, hopefully free, update.
Onto the actual game then, and it’s a Japanese puzzle game where you have to direct some mice (Chu Chu’s) to their waiting rockets, all the while avoiding the attentions of the roaming cats (Kapu Kapu’s). The action is viewed from a top down perspective, with a board game look to the levels. Before each level starts, you get the opportunity to place markers with arrows on them, which a mice will follow if it runs across the marker.
The placing of these arrows is essential, as, once the level starts, everything is automatic, with the mice always turning to the right if they hit a wall. Learning the patterns of the cats and mice is essential, and can be extremely difficult and frustrating, particularly on later levels.
It’s a good frustration however, the sort that keeps you coming back, and with visual s that have that certain Japanese sense of character and style, and a great soundtrack, the basic quality of the gameplay is as good as it ever was, and the game sits right on the iPad, especially as Sega have used a very clever control system. You simply touch a square where you want to place an arrow and swipe in the direction that you want the arrow to point in. It’s a good use of the touch screen.
There are a few game modes included, such as the basic Puzzle mode, the excellent challenge mode, and the aforementioned local multiplayer modes. The multiplayer is fast, strategic and frantic, with up to four players fighting it out on 25 multiplayer levels.
One disappointing aspect of the port is that the graphics seem to have just been upscaled for the big screen, with some of the textures quite pixellated and rough looking.
There have also ben reports that the game can crash after the tutorial has been completed, although we had no problems with our copy. This will surely be fixed in an update, but it does show a worrying sign of indiscipline in the porting process, something you wouldn’t expect from Sega, who have been looking after their franchises somewhat better in the last couple of years. Despite the fact that this is a rather shoddy port, and despite the baffling lack of online play, this quirky and addictive puzzle game is well worth a look, and remains as good now as it ever was.
It just could have been so much better.