Developer(s) – Capcom
Publisher(s) – Capcom
Designer – Masayoshi Kurokawa
Producer – Tokoru Fujiwara
As the first game I ever played, Chip N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers for the NES has always held a special place in my own video gaming repertoire, and one that I think still very much holds up to this day. Back when 2D side-scrolling was the standard in the medium, and on the console, Chip N’ Dale to me, stands out as one of the better efforts, among many other unlicensed games in the genre, such as Robodemons and Menace Beach, and even among some of Capcom’s more popular efforts like Mega Man.
Graphics – 8/10
There is a lot of extremely effective use of colour in Chip N’ Dale, just like Mega Man before it. Capcom were the first developers to bring the new standard of adding black outlines to both character sprites and scenery, thus making it easier for certain shades of the same colour, such as blue, to blend in better with one another, and also to make the sky texture stand out better among everything else. It’s evident that they also used the same technique in Chip N’ Dale, and it worked flawlessly. The soundtrack to this game is also extremely impressive, and stands out greatly among most 8-bit NES soundtracks.
Gameplay – 7/10
What I think makes Chip N’ Dale better than the original Mega Man is that it’s a lot accessible. The difficulty curve hasn’t been set anywhere near as high as the Blue Bomber’s first game, but regardless, it still remains a fair challenge. It’s also interesting to see what influence Capcom took from Nintendo, and the second instalment of Super Mario Bros; with players having to pick up objects and throw them at enemies in order to advance, not to mention the mechanics of being able to select multiple playable characters.
Controls – 10/10
It was even by this early point in gaming that the 2D side-scrolling formula had been more or less perfected, and especially since Capcom had had a fair amount of prior experience with the likes of Mega Man, and then would have in the future with Strider, it was natural to assume there would be no problems with the Chip N’ Dale’s controls scheme, and so there is none.
Lifespan – 7/10
At the time, it wasn’t considered below standard for a game to last as little a time as less than an hour, and since this game lasts about as long as the average Mario or Sonic game, I don’t think it should lose too many marks for not lasting any longer than it did. There were exceptionally longer games around at the time, such as the original Final Fantasy or the first Metroid game, but dependant on player skill, they can be made to last a fair amount of the time for what technological advancement at that time would allow.
Storyline – 5/10
The story, however, was particularly generic, and typical of the time, really. It follows Chip and Dale on a mission to save their damsel in distress, Gadget, from their archenemy Fat Cat. Throughout the NES era, that was the usual structure of most video game narratives, and there’s really nothing present in this game to differentiate it from other narratives of the time.
Originality – 6/10
Though this game clearly has its influences, everything from Mega Man to Super Mario Bros 2 to even Castlevania to a certain extent, this was my own personal introduction to video gaming, and would lead me to experience all the great video game that I have experienced to date. A lot of the boss fights still stand out to me, as does the soundtrack, and the game itself is certainly a lot more enjoyable to play than many other games on the NES; licensed by Nintendo or otherwise.
To summarize, Chip N’ Dale still speaks to me as an excellent catalyst whereby to have been introduced to the medium at all, and one of the best games on the NES. It’s a must-have for any retro gamer, and still stands out in terms of visuals for the time as well as substance in gameplay.