There are few concepts more satisfying in life than a cat chasing a mouse. Somehow it seems part of the natural order. Especially when the mouse turns around and whacks the cat in the chops with a saucepan.
Okay, so Chu Chu Rocket isn't quite Tom and Jerry territory, but the basic idea is the same. Here, cats chase mice, and mice have to escape.
Set in space, each level contains an escape rocket (or perhaps more than one), that you have to guide your Chu Chus - space mice - into. Out to foil your plans are the Kapu Kapus - space cats - who will eat any Chu Chus they collide with. Don't let the cats get into the rockets either, or it's game over.
Chu Chu Rocket has two modes: puzzle and challenge. In the puzzle section - consisting of 25 easy and 25 hard puzzles - you're presented with a scenario and a certain number of placeable arrows (of the up, down, left or right variety). Using your phone's joystick (or keypad), you have to position the arrows in such a manner as to guide the Chu Chus into their escape rocket without colliding with their enemies.
There are some basic rules to help you along. Chu Chus move faster than Kapu Kapus, and both species turn right whenever they collide with a barrier or the edge of the screen. Working within such a basic range of options, you'll really have to work your brain to use the limited amount of arrows provided to fulfil each scenario, because most are only solveable in one specific way.
If you're the kind of person who's happy to experiment, though, this isn't a game to deny your pleasure. You can set the mice and cats off a'running time and again without any penalty arising from continuous failure. But to get the best out of Chu Chu Rocket, you should take each puzzle seriously and attempt to work out what's going to happen and where you need to place your arrows to complete each level.
It's all good fun, but there are some out-of-game difficulties we need to mention. Most notably, the longer you take to consider each level, the more likely it is that your phone's screensaver (or power saving mechanism) will kick in, which is extremely annoying.
Equally, the fine detail of the levels will have you cursing the lack of precision of your phone's joystick. This is especially the case when it comes to the frantic challenge mode, where you can place up to three arrows of any orientation at a time to deal with the situation you're thrown into, whether it's getting 100 Chu Chus to escape or perversely feeding 100 Chu Chus to some Kapu Kapus.
Still, the contrast between the two game modes measured and mindful puzzle versus fast and frantic challenge can provide a welcome change of pace, particularly when you're stuck on a particularly hard puzzle.
In fact, the only downsides to the game itself are the colour scheme - thoughtlessly, your cursor is the same colour as the Chu Chus - and the lack of any funky music when you're playing. The graphics are great and there's plenty of menu-side melodies, but surprisingly the game is almost silent during the actual action, which is strange considering that when Chu Chu Rocket first appeared on Sega's short-lived Dreamcast console, the music was one of the strongest elements.
Nevertheless, this solid conversion of a brain-tingling console game into an admirable phone-sized puzzler makes Chu Chu Rocket worthy of your time and cash. Catch it now!