ChuChu Rocket! is a multiplayer video game by Sonic Team for the SEGA Dreamcast, later adapted for the Game Boy Advance and for iOS devices. The object of the game is to (for the most part) put little space-mickey-mice thinggies into four different-colored rockets to get them away from KapuKapus, i.e., cats. Basically it's a game of cat-and-mouse, IN SPACE!
According to the Excuse Plot, there are four individual pilots for the rockets:
- Chuih, a ChuChu with a blue astronaut suit and stars in his eyes, pilots the blue rocket.
- Chubei, an abnormally large ChuChu with a yellow spacesuit, pilots the yellow rocket.
- Chubach, a thin, green ChuChu with swirly eyes (apparently glasses), pilots the green rocket.
- Chupea, a red female ChuChu with a heart-shaped tail, pilots the red rocket.
The game employs arrows on a giant checkerboard that are to lead the ChuChus to the rockets. You get three arrowsno more, sometimes fewer. Occasionally the KapuKapus will show up and use the same arrows you placed to follow the ChuChus and eat them (this is actually the point of one of the mini-games). It gets much harder when you realize that the ChuChus go so dang fast that it's almost impossible to even see the dang things moving around. And that's assuming you're playing by yourselfit gets a lot more complicated when you use multiplayer (arguably the whole point of the game's existence) and there are four sets of three arrows littered over the board, which could potentially lead a KapuKapu to eat your ChuChus.
In 2019, the long-awaited sequel, ChuChu Rocket! Universe, was released for Apple Arcade.
Tropes associated with ChuChu Rocket! include:
- All There in the Manual: The ChuChu Pilots don't actually appear in the game, but their rockets dothe only way you know of their existence (other than their cameo appearances in Sega crossovers released long after the game came out) is through the manual.
- Artificial Stupidity : Even though they're faster than humans, the AIs in the Game Boy Advance port sometimes place arrows incorrectly. For example, if the goals are close together, it may place arrows to direct cats or mice to the wrong rocket.
- Ascended Extra: The Chuchu Pilots Chuih, Chubei, Chupea and Chubach are seen only in the manual, but appear later in Sonic & SEGA All Stars Racing and Sega Heroes.
- Automatic Level: Several levels in the GBA version's User Puzzle list clear themselves. Some have arrows to pretend there's a puzzle to solve, but others have none and end the second you press the R button.
- Bag of Holding: Inverted with the rockets, to some degree. Played straight with the holes the ChuChus come out of.
- Bait-and-Switch: Any time you're presented with several arrows to use but then you realize the solution is either obviously doable with just a few or the level is actually automated.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Clearing a puzzle with less than the available arrow plates awards the player an "Excellent" message.
- Cats Are Mean: And orange.
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: Player 1 is blue, Player 2 is yellow, Player 3 is red, Player 4 is green.
- Disney Villain Death: Kapus being set up to just run straight into a hole is a common gag in puzzle levels.
- Escort Mission: The general goal is to guide mice towards rockets with arrow plates.
- Excuse Plot: The 'plot' of this game is to play as four unseen ChuChu Pilots to get away from giant mutated cats. You soon forget this.
- Game Lobby: The game had this feature. Matches were pretty quick in that game.
- Instant 180-Degree Turn: Normally, if you hit a wall, you turn right (or left if no right turn is possible), but if you reach a dead end, you make a 180. You can also force an instant turn using arrows. Mice happily turn around, but the arrows only work twice on cats for a 180.
- Last Lousy Point: The GBA version has a total of 2500 puzzles from the Dreamcast version's user base. There's at least a hundred among them that will give you a ton of trouble should you want to solve them fair and square.
- Law of 100: Some challenge levels require you to rescue 100 mice (or let you win if you lead the CPU player by that many). Coincidentally, there's a maximum of 100 mice allowed on the playing field at once.
- Level Editor: A fully-featured one exists in both the Dreamcast and GBA versions. In the Dreamcast version, the editor is only for Puzzle Mode levels, while the GBA version's can also create custom levels for the 4P and Team battle modes as well as Challenge Mode.
- Make My Monster Grow: Is a Kapu Kapu eats 50 Chu Chu or instantly snags a Golden Chu Chu, it suddenly grows. If it eats another 50, it blows up.
- Non-Nazi Swastika: User puzzle 2N23, "Weird mirror", depicts two manji on the board.
- Noodle Incident: Several User levels present a gag only the author would have known the meaning of. For example, puzzle 3W16 is named "TOO LATE" and is followed by one named "ROBERT" that depicts a face.
- Three Arrows At A Time: Challenge or versus modes.
- Programming Game: In Puzzle Mode, the only effect you have on the game is to place the arrows at the beginning of each level. Once you tell it to start, you can only watch what happens.
- Remixed Level: Puzzles which are edits of previous ones are common. In particular, "Get Together!" in the Mania group is turned into the final puzzle, "Panic!!". In the User selection, there is at least one variation of it... and puzzle 3Y05, "HARDLEVEL 10 '''''''", which is a straight ripoff of "Panic!!" that got past the curators. It is missing a Chu, but otherwise everything is set up exactly like in the original.
- Riddle for the Ages: Where do the ChuChus GO in their rockets anyway?
- Running Gag: Several User puzzles's names are a pun on the word "amazing".
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: The User collection in the GBA version ranges from effortless levels to complex ones which rely on the engine's quirks to be solvable.
- Timed Mission: Each Stage Challenge needs to be completed in 30 seconds.
- Title Drop: User puzzle 4H23 is called "Chu Chu Rocket" and has the title and a rocket drawn on the board.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Some puzzles are barely puzzles and others are intuitive enough. Others require a ton of experimentation to figure where to start and adjustments to make the Chus sprint past gaps in Kapu lines correctly.
- Villain Shoes: the C and E challenge stages revolve around the Kapu Kapu and require the player to either kill all the Chu Chu or eliminate all the mice from an enemy rocket during infinite "Cat Mania" while deflecting them from their own.
- A Winner Is You:
- Clearing the Stage Challenge or Puzzle modes just awards you with a Staff Roll.
- In the Game Boy Advance version, beating all 2600 puzzles will make a message from Sega appear after the credits. It tells the player to send a letter to them in order to get a gift. This message only appears once with no way to review it without erasing all progress, and is probably worth nothing nowadays.
- Wrap Around: Characters will wrap around the edges of the board. In particular, a Chu and a Kapu will miss each other if they wrap around the screen at the same time. It can take a lot of trial and error to perform this trick on puzzles that revolve around it.