Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers

I almost feel bad for the kids of today.  Back in the day the Disney afternoon was a solid two hour block of cartoon goodness that everyone rushed home to watch.  Just imagine DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, and Talespin one right after the other.  Often forgot in that lineup is Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers.  Considering the caliber of shows it shared airtime with that’s understandable.  At the same time the Disney afternoon was going on Capcom were right there with games based on each show.  Rescue Rangers followed DuckTales and continued the streak of excellence that established, emerging as not just one of the better licensed games of that period but a great game overall.

The Rescue Rangers undertake a job to help locate a young girl’s missing cat.  However it is nothing more than a ruse so that arch nemesis Fat Cat can kidnap Gadget.  The whole gang is here but only Chip and Dale are playable.  Monterrey Jack is relegated to the occasional cameo to destroy blockades.  Zipper appears as an invincibility power-up.  While disappointing the game’s mechanics more than make up for it.

From a gameplay standpoint Rescue Rangers is incredibly simple.  Where Scrooge McDuck has a multi-purpose cane Chip and Dale can only throw boxes and other objects.  The levels are littered with all manner of everyday objects that can be carried and tossed.  Most of these are boxes which can also double as cover to let enemies sneak by.  Hell if you’re playing coop you can even chuck your buddy at enemies! 

This is a very fast paced game unlike the measured pace of Capcom’s other Disney titles.  It’s a bit surprising considering the size difference between Chip and Dale and their environment.  It is used to great effect throughout the game as even everyday objects like water faucets and small fan blades become hazards.  The level variety is incredibly high as you’ll take a trip through the city streets, a diner, a toy house, forest, and even a casino.  In many ways this is similar to Konami’s later Monster in my Pocket, down to the 2-player coop.  However I would say Rescue Rangers has a better set of play mechanics.

As fun as it is in single player the game truly excels in coop.  Teaming up with a friend truly makes the game shine and it becomes readily apparent the game was designed for it.  The overabundance of objects lying around is clearly set up for two players.  The levels are wide open with multiple levels so that both players don’t have to bunch up and move at the same pace.  It does make an already easy game simpler but I’ll take the riotous fun of multiplayer over a staid experience any day.  And I don’t even like multiplayer in general.

Most of Capcom’s Disney all suffer from being a little too short which applies here somewhat.  It seems they tried to alleviate that with only mild success.  Each stage is of moderate length and most players of even average skill will blow through them quickly.  A single run through the game will comprise seven or eight levels.  The first half of the game offers multiple paths to Fat Cat’s casino allowing you to skip certain levels.  Its reason enough to go back and play it again, especially considering how fun the game is.  But that replay value doesn’t last too long seeing as the game is so easy.

As much as Rescue Rangers differentiates itself from Capcom’s other licensed titles it shares the same passive difficulty.  It’s understandable since the game was targeted at the younger set but it could have used some teeth.  You are limited to three hearts of health but that is rarely an issue.  If you pick up every object that isn’t nailed down you will find life restoring acorns everywhere.  There are so many flower icons and stars that players will be drowning in extra lives.  The one area where it should ramp up, the bosses, is actually the easiest parts of the game.  The last three stages do step it up a bit but the game as a whole could have used a little bump in difficulty.

While I wish Rescue Rangers presented a little more challenge in the end it is still a great game.  This was Capcom’s second Disney Licensed title and it showed that DuckTales was not a fluke.  Either alone or with a friend a quality platformer awaits.

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