When I entered the 16-bit era of gaming around 1993, as crazy as it may sound coming from me given my love of the NES, the ol' gray shoebox went into the closet and I left 8-bit gaming behind for quite a long time. It wouldn't be until 1997'ish that I got back into playing those old games and amassing the large collection (thanks to the wonders of teenage employment) of NES games that I have today. It was a rediscovery of sorts, going back to those older games and finding myself having way more fun with them, while my enjoyment of the newer and cooler doo-dads seemed in a constant state of waning. It was during this time that I stumbled across a great deal of games that I missed at the tail end of the NES' lifespan.
Once everyone had moved onto bigger and bittier pastures, a few companies stayed around and supported the lingering NES with fresh new titles. Capcom was one who stuck around for a while (though they let Nintendo take care of localizing Mega Man 6
by the time it was out) and as it turns out they ended up doing a couple of sequels for some of their better known licensed games that I didn't even know about until I was into collecting again. Yeah, I know! There's a DuckTales 2
(which I've still yet to play) and of course the game I'm reviewing now, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2
. In the very first NES Week ever, almost six years ago, I reviewed
the original game and was quite pleased with it. Should you dawn that furry suit you've had in your closet for the last six years again to thwart the evil Fat Cat's latest scheme of stealing some dumb stones or something to control the world? Is it really worth your time? Read on to find out, young furry. (read: decoy) (read 2: old furry)
Looking at the screenshots provided already it may seem like Rescue Rangers 2
quite possibly is
just a quick cash-grab to sucker in the last few NES stragglers. Not much has really changed about the graphical style. It's distinctly Capcom, and if you wanna be picky, some areas of the game look like they share quite a few background assets from the first game. Even so, there's still enough new stuff here for the graphics package to not be called a total rehash. All of your favorite characters are represented as best as the NES could churn out. Everyone's recognizable from the show, including many of the bosses and normal enemies which are all given a proper down-sizing (and it's strange saying that since everyone in the show is small anyway). Other than that, there's a good enough amount of animation, color, and detail in the presentation to give it a passing grade, even if some of the environments lack imagination (seriously, did every
late-NES game by Capcom have a haunted house and some kind of future-type world?).
The soundtrack doesn't fare quite as well. There are a few memorable pieces here and there, but nohing as uniquely hummable and catchy as pretty much everything else Capcom did on the NES. Every tune seems to just get washed out in the background because none of the pieces seem to have any inspiration behind them. Other than the couple stand out tracks, everything else sounds as if the composer was just going through the motions and would probably rather have been working on the bigger, badder consoles with more audio wizarding capability.
Once again, one or two players can take on the role of Chip and/or Dale, and for the most part not a whole lot of the original game's core has changed. It's still a fairly simple platformer and all of the mechanics from the first game have been brought over and aren't too tampered with. You run and jump and pick up shit (mostly crates, not shit...though there could
be shit in them) and throw them at enemies to progress through each stage. The only real difference to the core gameplay is that the game feels a lot tighter and plays much faster, requiring a lot more twitch reaction on the part of the player. This adds a bit of a welcome challenge, as the first game was a smidge too easy to roll though, so it's good that the sequel ratchets this up a bit.
Also new are some stage gimmicks that are a little too infrequent, but they certainly help mix things up a bit. Two of the finer stages of the game have you trying to escape a freezer in under three minutes or be frozen to death while dealing with the hazards of slippery footing and using fans to glide yourself to higher altitudes. Also fun is a rather long mine cart section where you have to use the lever on the front of the cart to control your speed in an effort to dodge falling boulders, ball and chain setups, and of course, bottomless pits. The game could have used a few more areas like this to keep the run, pick up crap, throw areas from being so driven into the ground.
Another great improvement are the boss encounters. Though they all utilize relatively the same strategy to win (pick up object, throw it at the boss), you're no longer just handed a ball that never goes away to wail on the boss with. Each boss encounter either features items that will drop in randomly to aid in the fight or you'll have to trick the boss into throwing or dropping the proper item for you to hit them with. This often requires using your position on the screen to trick the boss into not throwing whatever item you need off the screen. Other bosses, though confined to one general area, also make use of screen scrolling to keep you constantly moving, or using hazards such as rushing water to try and keep you at bay and push you off the screen. These encounters end up so much more fun than the original's and suit this game's overall increase in difficulty just fine.
The only real disappointment I can think of here is that the game is a lot more locked down than the first. In the original game you always had control of which stages you wanted to go to after completing the first. Not as free-flowing as Mega Man
but the option was always nice. In Rescue Rangers 2
you're only presented with the option of which order to play the final three stages. It doesn't really change anything (and it didn't in the original either), but again, options are always nice.
I went into Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2
fully expecting a cash-in recycling of the first game. Though that's what I got to a certain point, the overall faster pace of gameplay, added stage gimmicks, and increase in difficulty make the game feel like it was worthy of actually being released instead of a quick grab for DOOLARS. It's a bit more of the same with some new bits sprinkled in, but if you were a fan of the original you've got absolutely nothing to lose in giving this one a run-through sometime too.