Sunday, March 25, 2007

Past-Due Review: Chip Chan Kick! (PC-FX)

I've always loved games like Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars. Sure, they look awfully cute and cuddly, but play any one of them for a few minutes and you quickly come to understand they're hardly "kiddie" games.

Chip Chan Kick, released by NEC for the PC-FX in 1996, follows in the formidable footsteps of those classic games, with its cartoonish cadre of characters who put up a fight that belies their pastel-colored exteriors.

Like the aforementioned games, Chip Chan Kick features big-eyed, cute-as-buttons protagonists who make their way through a series of single-screened levels on their way to fighting tough-as-nails bosses. Each level features a host of baddies (though considering how cute they are, "baddie" hardly seems to be the best word to describe them) that have to be dispensed with before you can move on to the next.

Deciding how to clear each level is pretty easy thanks to the limited number of options given to players. You move your character with the d-pad and use one of the controller's action buttons to jump while the other button allows you to throw your little blob friend in the direction of your enemies. If the blob makes contact with an enemy, he/she/it keels over, apparently knocked unconscious. They're finished off with a well placed kick (accomplished using the same button that allowed you to throw the little blob thing).

Pretty much every enemy--from animated soda machines to dolphins to monkeys to storm clouds (it all depends on what stage you're on at the moment)--is defeated in this manner. The only exceptions are the bosses, which appear at the end of every ten levels and have to be clobbered many a time before they go down in flames. Although they're a sight to behold, they're also a pain in the butt. Expect to go through more than a few lives taking them out, as well as a few of your precious continues (if you're anything like me).

Gamers spoiled by the likes of the Xbox 360 and PS3 may have a hard time appreciating Chip Chan Kick's simple pleasures. Even when compared to other 2D games, NEC's Bubble Bobble clone can pale in comparison (though I personally love the game's aesthetic and think it compares favorably to a Neo-Geo release). That's not what Chip Chan Kick is about, though--instead, it's about sitting down to a bit of simplistic, old school fun in the comfort of your own home (as opposed to the arcade, where this type of game used to reign supreme).

By the way, you don't have to search the globe for a used PC-FX system to enjoy this game. Download the Magic-Engine FX emulator (available here) and then look for a cheap copy of the game on line (or an ISO of the game, if that's your thing). If you likewise consider yourself a fan Bubble Bobble or Rainbow Islands, you'll be very happy you did.

No comments: