ChuChu Rocket!, the multiplayer Dreamcast gem, is a game that just makes sense in downloadable form. The premise is simple, the visuals are clean and the focus is on frantic party play online and off. It’s surprising, then, that the game only recently received an iOS port, but unsurprising that it handled the transition well.
In ChuChu Rocket!, players place arrow tiles in a rectangular arena, directing mice to their rockets to score points, while guiding cats to opponents’ rockets to take them away. It’s a basic concept, but the frenetic pace makes things just plain crazy. Mice flow like a river, and it’s hard to avoid the cats that come with them.
The game was originally conceptualized for a controller, with four buttons laying down arrows in cardinal directions. This version has touch-screen support, requiring players to tap the square, then slide in the direction the arrow should point. It’s an almost seamless control scheme, though one that works better on the iPad than the iPhone due to more screen real estate.
ChuChu features online and offline multiplayer, though online play is clearly superior. To avoid the hands-in-the-way problem a multiplayer iPad game typically has, the local option simply uses a split-screen approach, approximating the screen of the iPhone version. This can be a bit awkward for four players to comfortably see, but it works and I’m glad it’s included somehow.
Also included is a puzzle mode with all the original’s stages and many more that keep being added with periodic updates, as well as a challenge mode. For those who care about that kind of thing, it also has Game Center support. Unfortunately, the create-a-character option found in some versions of the game isn’t here, but there are a few unlockable costumes for your mice and cats.
ChuChu Rocket! fits as well on the iPad as it has anywhere, and it’s not half bad on iPhone either. It’s another great example of how the quality of iOS titles has risen in recent months.