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Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers 2

By 1993 the writing was on the wall and it was time for the NES to walk off into the sunset with its head held high.  Nintendo graced the system with one of its finest games, Kirby’s Adventure the Christmas and publisher support had all but dried up, to the point where Capcom would pass on publishing duties of Mega Man 6 to Nintendo themselves.  Oddly enough they would release Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers 2 themselves in 1994.  We’ll never know what could have been if the game had been released on the SNES but as a last swan song for the NES Rescue Rangers 2 was a good enough reason to pull out the old grey box one last time.

The Rescue Rangers catch wind of a bomb set to go off at a restaurant and provide their assistance, unaware that it is only a distraction to cover Fat Cat’s escape from jail.  The portly feline used the ruckus to steal the Urn of the Pharaoh and now the Rangers have to recover the priceless artifact and foil his evil scheme.

While it never reached the level of Duck Tales the original Rescue Rangers was an enjoyable platformer, especially in coop mode.  The juxtaposition of miniature chipmunks in this oversized world worked really well in creating unique platforming segments out of everyday situations, something not many games had done well to that point.  The game might have been on the easy side to accommodate two players but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

The point of all of that information is simple; Rescue Rangers 2 is more of the same.  The basic gameplay is identical: as either Chip or Dale your main weapon (actually only weapon this time around) are the numerous boxes strewn about that can be thrown or used for cover in a pinch.  The only new addition this time around is the ability to chuck your coop partner in lieu of a weapon.

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The levels sadly cover a lot of familiar territory Capcom had already explored in their other Disney efforts.  The Haunted mansion wouldn’t look out of place in Adventures in the Magic Kingdom while the sewers came straight from Darkwing Duck.  To an extent you can’t fault them for that since the show sort of took place in the real world but there is an endless list of locales they could have used rather than going for the platforming staples.  The level design has also seen a shift as there are less environmental hazards created from everyday objects and more bottomless pits.  There are usually one or two tricky spots in each level but nothing that will have you pulling your hair out.  There are a few decent distractions along the way such as escaping from the refrigerator in 3 minutes or controlling a mine cart in the Western world but they’ll only cause you to wonder why the rest of the game lacks the same sort of inspired design.

The multiple routes to the end level are gone in favor of a linear level progression.  Its only at the Amusement Park that you’ll have a choice of what order you’ll tackle the game’s final 3 levels.  This is a huge blow to the game’s replay value; it was nice to have options if a particular level happened to give you a spot of trouble and also a reason to go back and play the game again once you’d finished it the first time.  Now once you’ve beaten Fat Cat there’s no incentive to ever do it again.

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A major point of contention with the first game was the boss battles which were so easy it was insulting.  They’ve seen a considerable upgrade here.  Their patterns of attack aren’t always obvious and you’ll have to take slight risks to create opportunities of attack; an example would be the second boss, a flying cat who throws spiked balls at your last position.  If you keep your distance you’ll never be able to pick them up and use them against him.   There are a few that fall flat; the first boss will self-destruct if you keep your distance long enough and the third boss is a complete. This auto scrolling battle can be totally cheesed by staying above him at all times since he can’t throw his fireballs upwards.  On the whole however they are a mile away from the simple ball throwing wastes of time in the first game.

Rescue Rangers 2 isn’t a bad game but it is the very definition of a cheap cash in.  The fact that the game came years after the show had completed its run further highlights how little thought went into its creation.  I suppose those who really like cooperative multiplayer would have a good time but the Magical Quest series of games starring Mickey Mouse does a much better job of scratching that itch.

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Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers

During the Disney “renaissance” years in gaming there were bound to be a few games that slipped through the cracks.  When you’re rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ducktales and Darkwing Duck it’s kind of hard to stand out.  While it was somewhat popular in its day Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers has been forgotten, which is a shame because although easy, it is an excellent platformer that continued the legacy of prior Capcom hits.

Arch nemesis Fat Cat has kidnapped Gadget and it’s up to our intrepid duo to find her.  With appearances by most of the cast of the show fans have a lot to look forward, not only because the fan service but because of the excellent gameplay.  Although it very clearly is using the same basic engine as Ducktales Rescue Rangers features enough elements to give it its own identity.

Where Scrooge McDuck had a multipurpose cane to deal with every situation the Rangers have the ability to pick up and throw nearly everything in the environment.  From boxes to, crates, even fruit if you can lift it now it’s a weapon.   Some have other uses as well, with crates allowing you to hide from enemies inside or stack them to overcome obstacles.  Health powerups and stars for extra lives are in plentiful supply so game over is never really a serious threat.  Monterey Jack makes brief cameos to bust open doors and Zipper doubles as invincibility (kind of like the Hudson Bee, oh shit).

There are surface similarities to Ducktales, such as the map screen to select levels however unlike that game you can completely bypass certain ones if you so choose.  There are enough stages in the game that you can plot a few different courses to the end for some replay value.  The 2-player coop adds to the fun as well.  It almost shouldn’t work since this is a very fast paced game but like Contra the ever present danger of falling behind will keep both players on their toes.

The only downside would be that the game is far too easy.  There are few tricky spots and the extra lives and health are practically thrown at you.  That isn’t to say it’s a cakewalk; because the pace is so swift you can run into off screen enemies frequently but it’s nothing you won’t adjust to.  The boss battles, while visually impressive for the system, are bereft of any challenge since they are all basically the same: chuck the available balls upward at whatever target is presented, the only differentiator being how many are needed to win.  I mentioned the visuals which are all around pretty damn good, playing off the size of the protagonists in their environment and turning everyday appliances such as running faucets into legit threats.  Another nice little touch: carrying heavier objects makes you sweat visibly and jump lower, a minor detail but it at least showed Capcom cared unlike a certain company that was Ack!  Lame.

It’s on the easy side but still long enough to provide an afternoon of fun.  Rescue Rangers is one of the forgotten classics of the NES that should not be missed.

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