Review: Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (NES)

In this review, we scrounge for acorns in the NES game Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. We find out how well this adventure game plays.

This game was released in 1990 and is based off of the cartoon series of the same name.

This game is notable in that you can play as a second player and play cooperatively in the game. Still, this game is more than playable with one player.

The story is that a neighbors kitten has been kidnapped. It is up to the Rescue Rangers to find this kitten. Upon rescuing the kitten, you find out that the case of the kidnapped cat was all a ruse by Fat Cat. While you were rescuing the kitten, Fat Cat has kidnapped Gadget and forcing her to make inventions for him. Throughout your adventure, Gadget has managed to build a telephone and drop hints along the way to help you with the levels.

The levels themselves are lettered instead of standard numbers. This is an interesting deviation from many other games we’ve reviewed up to this point. Each level is referred to a zone instead. In all, there are 10 in total. Which order you tackle these levels is somewhat non-linear. The path suggests you can choose between a few via the forks in the path, though we opted to go in alphabetical order in this playthrough.

In each level, you’ll encounter numerous enemies including flying bees, mechanical bulldogs, and fake boxes that jump up and down. The character you choose (either Chip or Dale, depending on which you’ve selected in the start screen) is not armed, however, he can pick up items including boxes, apples, bombs, and even a small log at one point. Boxes are less powerful as they can, at best, damage one enemy at a time while, at worse, only damage an enemy. On the plus side, you can push down and hide behind this box. If an enemy walks up to you, they can be defeated by running into you. You lose the box, but also defeat the enemy. An interesting tactic to say the least. Meanwhile, large apples and bombs, while fewer, can pass through multiple enemies, though the chances of you being able to do so are quite negligible. Finally, during boss fights, you’ll get a re-usable red ball to check at your enemy. While it can cause damage, just be wary of the ball bouncing back, potentially stunning you in the process. You can also find large rocks that can be used for stacking and reaching high platforms.

Along the way, you’ll encounter numerous items. The most common items are the flower icons. Collect 50 of these and you’ll make a star appear. This star will float from the left hand side of the screen to the right. Collect the star and you’ll get a free life. You can also encounter regular stars. Collect 10 and you’ll get the same thing. It’s also possible to collect a free life by collecting the flashing star. In addition to this are acorns. Collect the regular acorn and you can recover one of your thee hearts. Collect the flashing one and recover all of your hearts.

You’ll also encounter a number of large boxes. Touch the box to open it up. Some of these boxes contain cheese. This item is not something you’ll collect yourself, but a character will appear, collect the cheese, and bust open a door, allowing you to progress further. Other boxes contain special items such as a star, free life, or acorns. They can also contain special tools to allow you to get through certain areas. Probably the best item you can find in these are flying bugs. If you get a bug, you’ll be temporarily invulnerable. The flying bugs will also fly around and take out any enemy on screen. This doesn’t last long, but you can race through small chunks of a stage without breaking a sweat.

A strength of this game is the variety of things you’ll encounter. This can include Jack-In-the-Box enemies, fans that blow you around, water taps that you turn off, and enemies that fling boxes back at you. There is never a dull moment throughout the game as you’ll almost always encounter something new with each passing moment.

One debate I’ve seen swirling around is whether this is a game that’s too easy or not. If found the game to have about the right difficulty. It doesn’t get insultingly difficult, but it will challenge you and your reflexes. This is a somewhat fast paced game, so good reflexes can be a bit of a requirement for success here. With only three hearts in health, this game doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for error.

One criticism I heard with this game is the fact that it is too short. I can partially agree with this comment because I could definitely spend a day completing this game. I’m not sure it is a huge weakness for this game because of the variety in this game.

Another strength in this game is the story-driven content. You’ll get quick cut-scenes for every stage you complete. While the ending may be a bit short, the writing does soften the blow of a less than perfect ending somewhat.

Generally speaking, while there are a few minor weaknesses in this game, there is nothing that sticks out as terrible in any way. The play was solid, the difficulty was challenging, but gives you a chance for the most part, the variety was there, and there was even a half decent story to go along with everything.

The graphics were quite solid for a game of its time. It may lack a bit of special effects throughout, but the environments you go through were nicely done. Everything was drawn quite well and really reflected the cartoon nature of the subject. The amount of content offered here in terms of art was great – especially since there was very little re-use save for a few enemies.

The audio was pretty good as well. The music, while not amazing, worked quite well. Obviously, the theme was the most memorable, but the other tracks held their own as well. The sound effects used were nicely done as well.

Overall, while this game may be a bit short for some, it was a pretty solid play. It was fast paced and was reasonably difficult while not being overly so even though the three hearts life left little room for error. The large variety in this game worked in this games favor. The graphics were solid and reflected the cartoon nature nicely and the audio was half decent as well. A pretty good game overall.

Furthest point in game: Defeated Fat Cat.

General gameplay: 21/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 78%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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