Until a few months ago, I didn't know a game called Chack'n Pop existed. Actually, I'd still be ignorant of this Taito-made quarter-muncher (released in 1983) today if I hadn't decided to write yet another post about Bubble Bobble however many weeks ago. How so? Well, while writing that post I discovered (via Wikipedia) that Chack'n Pop is considered an ancestor to the aforementioned, Fukio Mitsuji-designed classic.
I don't know if you're aware, but there are times I love Bubble Bobble more than life itself. (On other days, I love it just a bit less than that.) So, it shouldn't be all that surprising to hear that after learning of Chack'n Pop's pedigree, I ran to my computer, downloaded a ROM of the Famicom version of the game and then proceeded to play it ... for about five minutes.
I stopped after such a short time because, honestly, I thought the game stunk more than my cat's litter box after a weekend getaway. It looked boring and, worse, it felt boring--thanks in large part to the plodding pace of its protagonist. Also, it was hard as hell. I'm pretty sure I failed to make it through Chack'n Pop's first stage during that initial, perfunctory playthrough.
After that execrable experience, I deleted the ROM from my computer--hey, why keep it around if I'm never going to play it again?--and decided to erase the game's existence from my memory, too.
How'd the game weasel its way back into my brain and earn another shot at my affections (this is a "Second Chances" post, after all)? Late last week, Simon Lethbridge published a rather positive review of arcade version of Chack'n Pop on his blog, Red Parsley, which, in turn, caused me to re-consider my previously snarky stance on this single-screen platformer.
Surprisingly, my second go-around with the game went pretty well. Actually, it went very well. (For proof, take a look at the "Now Playing" box on the right side of this blog.) In fact, it went so well that I made it to the fourth stage. Granted, it took me about 10 tries to conquer the first stage, but now that I've got the hang of things--as much as is possible in this challenging and often clunky game--I regularly get to the third and even fourth stage before losing all of my lives.
As for what prompted my "Chack'n Pop change of heart": Well, I guess you could say that, thanks to Lethbridge's prodding, I finally was able to look past the title's somewhat boring facade and see the quirky gameplay--like the protagonist's ability to stick to the ceiling and his ability to surprise (and blow up) the seemingly brain-dead Monstas by rolling bombs down stairways--that lies beneath.
See also: Previous 'Second Chances' posts