Game Reviews

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ChuChu Rocket Dreamcast **** The frantic mayhem afforded by this puzzle game from the Sega's Sonic team - and Dreamcast's first online offering - is bound to make it a cult favourite. The idea is to get as many space mice (ChuChus, in case you were wondering) as possible into your rocket while avoiding the KapuKapus (evil science-fiction cats) and vortexes which will send the mice spinning into space.

ChuChu Rocket Dreamcast **** The frantic mayhem afforded by this puzzle game from the Sega's Sonic team - and Dreamcast's first online offering - is bound to make it a cult favourite. The idea is to get as many space mice (ChuChus, in case you were wondering) as possible into your rocket while avoiding the KapuKapus (evil science-fiction cats) and vortexes which will send the mice spinning into space.

Shuttle your mice aboard their transport by placing directional arrows on the grid which forms the two-dimensional gameboard. Anything that trundles on to the arrows will change direction and obediently scuttle into your rocket.

It all sounds nice and sedate, even a little dull thus far. However, factor in up to three other players competing for the same mice on the same "board" and things start to get messy. A couple of cunningly placed arrows will redirect the ChuChus from your opponent's rocket into your's.

To jazz things up a little further, rogue party mice are hidden among the ChuChus to trigger a variety of random events. They could increase the mouse population exponentially, speed them up, or cause the rockets to swap places, thereby leaving your carefully conceived shuttling route to your enemy.

The four-player game can be played against pals, against the computer or over the internet (Sega, incidentally, has announced that all Dreamcast owners on the Dreamarena will receive a free copy of the game). So if you don't have any pals and are bored with the one-player options, just go online.

The graphics aren't wildly exciting, but any more intricacy would be pointless and have a deleterious effect on gameplay. The joy is in the sheer simplicity of the idea. It's bonkers Japanese fun.

(Sega, £29.99)

Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventure Dreamcast ** These days, there are so many first-class beat-em-ups on the shelves that you've got to be something special to shine. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure's killer selling point, apparently, is that it is based on a very popular manga series in Japan. Unfortunately, oriental cult popularity doesn't guarantee a decent, exciting fighting game, as this peculiar offering proves.

For those who aren't really interested in the Manga styling, there is always the "STAND", which certainly differentiates it from stylish fighters like Soul Caliber. The "STAND", or spectral being, will emerge from your character from time to time to join in the batterings using their eccentric special moves. They might attack their opponent with an axe or metamorphose into a mouth which will swallow the opposition. Yes, the moves can be amusing, but on the whole there is little depth to the fighting and the graphics are two-dimensional bland.

(Virgin, £39.99)

Rugrats: Studio Tour PlayStation *** The unwitting parent needs to practice vigilance. THQ, the publisher, is targeting the burgeoning team of pre-teen computer games players with this title. As many are probably very well aware, it's only a small step from the card pack or, in this case, Saturday morning television, to the console. And THQ is using the lisping, nappy-clad Rugrats as bait to lure their under-age fans to the controller. It's a clever move as nothing captivates a kid's attention more than interacting with their favourite TV characters.

Surprisingly, perhaps, for a game so calculatedly constructed around a popular brand, it isn't bad at all. The Studio Tour is, in effect, a compendium of simple games such as crazy golf, car chasing and milk-squirting which have to be completed in order to rescue the baby which has crawled off into a film-set sunset.

The Rugrats look and feel is well suited to the games console and is effectively captured here. As I don't quite make the requisite age-range at which the game is aimed (6-12 yrs), I'm not entirely qualified to give a definitive opinion. But, even bearing in mind the ever-increasing sophistication of the younger generation, this is bound to keep them quiet for at least a couple of hours.

(THQ, £29.99)

Sega Worldwide Soccer - Euro edition Dreamcast *** As the football season drags on into the summer months with Euro 2000, another football game enters the console league. Sega, this time, is jumping on the Euro 2000 bandwagon with this Euro version of their Worldwide Soccer 2000 game for the Dreamcast.

As you'd expect from one among the current summer incursion of footie games, the international teams' line-ups are as spot on as they can be and the game carries official licensing. As usual, it's up to you to manage your team though both Euro and International competitions, honing their skills, and getting away with fouls.

It looks good and it plays responsively, as often isn't the case with football simulations. It's up against some stiff competition on the other consoles but it's the best to be seen so far for the Dreamcast.

(Sega, £39.99)

s.chatterton@independent.co.uk

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