Sonic Team’s second Dreamcast title is not a sequel to NiGHTS, nor a sequel to Sonic Adventure, and it’s not another Phantasy Star game either.
Sonic Team's second Dreamcast title is not a sequel to NiGHTS, nor a sequel to Sonic Adventure, and it's not another Phantasy Star game either. Instead of adding to an already existing game series, Sonic Team opted to develop something new. The result is ChuChu Rocket!, a puzzle game centering on a cat and mouse theme. Your main objective is to lead the space mice (chuchus) into a rocket so that they can blast off to safety, escaping the space cats (kapukapu) that are ready to feed on them.
In Japan, ChuChu Rocket! was released into a library of games that already included online features. However, here in the United States ChuChu Rocket! is the game that was chosen to kick off the re-launch of the Dreamcast Network as it is Sega's first release to take advantage of online game playing. Although no other games previous to ChuChu Rocket! allow players to compete against each other online, Dreamcast games released before March 7, 2000 have included online features, such as posting high scores or downloading mini-games to a VMU. Not only is this viewed as a large step for Sega but also as a large step for the console game market as it marks the "true" beginning of online gaming with a videogame console system. I say "true" because players have been able to compete online previous to the Dreamcast. Console games were not designed to be playable online previous to the 128-bit era but with an item such as the X-Band modem for the Genesis, users could compete against each other by dialing a server.
Each game of ChuChu Rocket! takes place on one screen. The background consists of a checkerboard that may contain walls, holes, mice, cats and rockets. When a round begins the mice and cats will move automatically and change directions when they bang into walls. If a cat touches a mouse then that mouse is instantly killed. Your objective is to save the mice and you can do this by placing arrows. Players must strategically place arrows so that the mice will avoid the cats and reach their rocket. However, the cats react the same way as the mice and will turn when they encounter a player's arrow as well. Gameplay will alter slightly depending on the mode of play chosen. Along with Network Battle, ChuChu Rocket! includes four other modes of play: Puzzle, Stage Challenge, 4-Player Battle and Team Battle.
4-Player Battle is similar to Network Battle in that more than one player is competing. During these games players are not only trying to save mice but they are also trying to save more mice than their opponents as well as impeding a player's progress by trying to send a cat to the enemy's rocket. When more than one player is competing they are allowed to only place three arrows at a time. Each arrow will fade away after a set number of seconds at which time a new arrow can be placed. Games can consist of up to 24 rounds but will end when one player saves a predetermined number of mice. Team Battle plays almost the same way as these other two modes with the only difference being that two players work as a team against two other players.
Stage Challenge is a one or two-player game. Players are given a goal before each game that must be met in order to win. These battles can differ completely from the rest of ChuChu Rocket! as one may ask you to actually eat all of the mice with a cat. When playing with two players the players work together to reach the goals rather than compete against each other.
Puzzle mode is the single-player game. This mode plays slightly different as at the start of each level the playing field is shown and everything is frozen until the player sets the game in motion. Before setting the mice in motion players are given a set number of arrows to work with. For example, you may be provided with two down arrows and one right arrow. You then must use all of the arrows by placing them on the appropriate square so that when the mice start up they will be led safely to a rocket. Once
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