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Chuck Rock (Game Gear)

Genre: Platform Developer: Gary Priest Publisher: Virgin Games Players: 1 Released: 1992

Let’s face it, Chuck Rock was never going to take the world by storm. He was just another mascot wannabe that never took off in a time when every developer wanted to create their own mascot. I’ve played many of the home console ports from the Genesis, Sega CD, and The SNES and none of them are anything special, but they are perfectly serviceable platform games that are easy to pick up and play. Despite them being rather average games, I enjoyed them for what they are. So, I grabbed my copy of the Game Gear port, expecting more of the same but as a playable game which I could hopefully enjoy for at least the few hours it would take me to finish it. I had high hopes here, as this is a game perfectly suited for a handheld: quick, simple to play, and one I could play for short amounts of time. I got none of that, and what I got instead is a top contender for most unfinished game in the Game Gear library.

Chuck Rock for the Game Gear consists of four stages from the original game, with three parts to each one (stage four has four parts) followed by a boss fight. Chuck’s main attacks are his belly bump and his jump kick, and his third attack is tossing stones at enemies if he happens to be carrying one. The same flaws present in the console versions transitioned here as well in that Chuck’s attacks are too close range and that collision detection is inaccurate. You have to time your attack to just be out of range of the enemy, and it will usually hit the enemy anyway and defeat it. If you’re any closer or later then you’ll usually take a hit. Another flaw in the game that get really annoying are when Chuck is in the water. You have a time limit for being in the water, and if you’re in too long you’ll drown. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have an indicator of any kind, and you just have to be quick. I lost many a life this way. One other issue is when jumping out of water, which will launch you really high into the air. The game will usually have an enemy fall on you at the last split second, which is very hard to dodge and really a cheap way to increase the difficulty, if you ask me.

All of this is forgivable, and the game is still plenty playable with these issues, but that’s not all. My biggest complaints with the game are with the backgrounds and music… or lack thereof. The animation and graphics that are here are quite well done for an 8-bit system, and they are filled with that ’90s mascot charm that every developer was going for. The problem is that the programmers here just left the backgrounds out completely, and instead each of the four stages have solid black backdrops and nothing more. This was a common theme in NES games during boss fights in order to add more graphics to each boss, but for the entire game on a stronger console this is just unacceptable.

The music got the same treatment. There is a rather nicely-done title theme that’s even catchy, but that’s it. The rest of the game has no music whatsoever throughout the four stage and each of the bosses. What happened to the development of this game? What is here is done well, but it’s as if the game was halfway finished and management just decided to release the game quickly. That’s a shame, because if the music were as good as the sound effects, then we could’ve had something special for the Game Gear. Instead, what’s here is unfinished and frustrating to play.

As Chuck Rock stands, it’s perfectly playable even with the gameplay issues present. You could do far worse on the handheld but coupled with lack the of backgrounds and sound, we’re left with a game that falls below average. It just isn’t a game that I could recommend unless you want a very cut and dry and downright tedious experience. Had the game just been finished, I would’ve given it a few points higher on the final score.

Score: 4 out of 10

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