Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers is a game I do remember renting as a kid, but I honestly couldn’t remember what I thought of it. I recently picked it up at a pawnshop for 5 dollars and fired it up just the other day to see how it holds up.
I never watched much of Rescue Rangers the cartoon back when it was on. I watched a whole hell of a lot of Duck Tales, but with Rescue Rangers I probably only saw 2 or 3 episodes in their entirety. I damn well know that theme song though and of course that’s the music that opens this game. It has been caught in my head ever since.
The game is a 1 or 2 player sidescrolling platform title. If you are just the 1 player, you get your pick of either Chip or Dale although aside from aesthetic differences, I don’t see any change in performance between the two characters. You run from left to right, then often back from right to left, through a series of linear levels (no branching paths to be found here). You attack by picking up boxes and other items scattered throughout the level and hucking them into enemies. Think Super Mario Bros. 2 style, or if you’re fan like I was, just think of M.C. Kids. In fact, go with the latter, because how often do you get to sit and think about M.C. Kids? It controls well and it feels great. Picking up and throwing the boxes is seamless and you would never be able to blame a fuck-up on poor controls. It’s simple gameplay, but implemented very well.
The graphics are damn impressive. Because Chip and Dale are well, chipmunks, all of the levels take place in environments that are gigantic in relation to their size. So when you’re running around inside, you will use ceiling fans as platforms, or telephone wires for the exterior levels. Each stage is visually unique and I don’t know what it is but I’ve always been a sucker for these games that take place in larger than life environments. Remember Harley’s Humungous Adventure for the Super Nintendo? Of course you don’t but I was willing to look past a lot of that game’s flaws purely because the core concept of running around in everyday environments in a shrunken form was inexplicably amazing to me as a child, and even somewhat now. Christ I keep getting distracted, ok moving on.
Something a little unique about the 2-player feature in Rescue Rangers is that both players get to play at the same time. There is no turn taking here. For an NES sidescroller, this was not too common and is always a welcome feature. My one recommendation is to make sure you play with someone who is a solid Rescue Rangers player, which I understand can be a hard quality to screen people for. My playing partner died 3 times in the first level and once that happened, they couldn’t come back and play until all my lives were lost. I’m not bragging, and this actually makes me sound like kind of a dick, but they then had to sit there and watch while I played through the remainder of the game, straight through until the very end. Granted it’s not a very long game, taking just under a half hour to finish up, but still. This is just something to keep in mind the next somebody asks if you’re up for a round of Rescue Rangers. Make sure to respond “fine but your fucking ass better be able to keep up because I don’t need that spectator shit!” It will be an appropriately awkward and terrifying way for you to kick off your playing session together.
It’s not hard to see how Rescue Rangers earned its reputation as an NES classic. It has impressive graphics, fun gameplay and solid tunes to back it up. Plus you have 2-player coop, kind of an NES rarity. Unlike its rare and elusive sequel, this game is actually pretty common and you should be able to grab yourself a copy for around five to ten dollars. I would definitely say it is worth the pick-up.