ChuChu Rocket! Hands-On Preview

At a gamer’s day event that also happened to mark the eleven-year anniversary of the Dreamcast launch, Sega showed us one of that system’s standout titles ported to the iPhone and iPad. It’s ChuChu Rocket!, and right now many Sega fans with long memories are feeling very happy.

ChuChu Rocket! is a fast-paced puzzle game where you must direct lines of blue mice into rocket ships, while avoiding hungry cats. The animals move in a straight line until they hit a wall, or one of the arrows that you can lay down on the floor.

There are 100 levels in the iPhone and iPad versions, all of which are from the Dreamcast version. There are 50 puzzle levels, which have no time limit and a set number of arrows you can use, and 25 challenge levels, which have specific goals, like getting 100 mice to safety in 30 seconds using unlimited arrows.

There are also 25 battle levels against the computer, and this is where CCR gets really hectic. Whether you’re playing against computer or human opponents, you have to guide mice to your ship while avoiding cats. You can also hurt your opponent by directing cats their way and stealing their mice. You can place three arrows at a time, and certain special mice will create random bonus events, like a flood of mice or cats.

CCR will be the first Sega game to support Game Center, and that means you’ll be able to challenge your friends to a game online, up to four over Wi-Fi. You can also play with four players over local Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the iPad version will support four players on one device.

We never played CCR on the Dreamcast, but this iPhone version is a lot of fun. It looks great, with optimized graphics designed just for the iPhone, and the local Wi-Fi multiplayer was great despite a notable lag when placing arrows. There are no new puzzles for players who have beaten the original ChuChu Rocket!, but we expect this game to have a strong online following when it hits the App Store in late October.

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