If you watched DuckTales
as a kid, chances are good you stayed glued to the television for Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. Featurin Disney's chipmunk duo Chip and Dale (cosplaying as Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I. respectively), the show's premise featured the pair as crime-fighting detectives, presumably after they grew tired of pestering Donald Duck for so many years. Chip and Dale were joined by Monterey "Monty" Jack (the team's Heavy and Australian stereotype), Gadget Hackwrench (crackpot inventor and furry crush for preteens everywhere), and Zipper the housefly (umm... a housefly in a red sweater). Their most frequent nemesis was Fat Cat, a feline crime boss who had a crew of gangster critters to do his bidding.
The series proved to be just as popular as DuckTales, and to this day it has a disturbingly intense fandom online. And let me stress disturbing
As with most 90's Disney titles, Capcom handled the video game adaptation with Tokuro Fujiwara as producer. The game was a basic platformer, where you controlled either Chip or Dale through the levels battling shape-shifting aliens, tiny animals, and tiny robots shaped like animals. Your only weapon was your ability to lift and throw crates, blocks, and apples that littered the environment. You'd think Gadget would have at least hooked you up with a crossbow made out of paperclips and a rubber band or something.
As a kid, something always appealed to me about miniature characters existing in a human-sized world. Levels in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers included tree tops, a science lab, a diner, the library, a toy store, the park, Fat Cat's casino, the sewers (of course), an office, and a factory. Not only would you have to deal with various enemies, but the environment themselves often proved hazardous to the pair of mini gumshoes. The stages were selected via an overhead map (similar to Bionic Commando), with a few being completely optional.
While Chip and Dale were the only two playable characters, the title featured the rest of the team in small cameos; Zipper functioned as an invincibility power up, Monty helps you break through barriers thanks to his uncontrollable addiction to cheese, and Gadget provided mission briefings as well as acting as the cliché damsel in distress three-quarters of the way through the game.
After fighting through the swarms of adorable little bitty cute things, at last you reach the final boss Fat Cat. He sits at desk and flicks cigar ashes at you, and you peg him repeatedly with a rubber ball. Yeah, that's about it. The title definitely won't go on any "Most Challenging Games Evar" lists, and could easily be beaten in about half an hour. By your semi-retarded cousin. You know, the one who insisted on communicating by barking like a dog. What really made this game a blast was the two-player cooperative mode. Player One controlled Chip while Player Two controlled Dale, and you and a friend could work together. Of course once the two of you figured out you could pick up the other player and throw them, shit was on. Most co-op Rescue Rangers games devolved into battles to see who could grab the other player first and toss them into a bottomless pit. CHIPMUNK DEATHMATCH!!!
Like DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers also had a sequel practically nobody played. While the visually the game was much improved, the gameplay wasn't quite as good as the first one. If you never checked out the follow-up, you seriously aren't missing much.
So will we ever see this game released on the Virtual Console? The odds are probably as good as the rest of the games based on Disney Afternoon. Many of those shows are now making their way to DVD, so there's always a slim chance. While I'd jump at an opportunity to pick up DuckTales again, this particular game might be best left to your childhood nostalgia.
Props go to the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers Shrine
for filling the many gaps in my memory about this title.
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #1: DuckTales
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #2: Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #3: Super Star Wars Trilogy
Licensed Games That Don't Entirely Suck - #4: MYSTERY ARCADE GAME