Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Capcom, 1990)
By this point I'm fairly certain a lot of our readers were kids or preteens when the Disney lineup of cartoons was popular in the 1990s. Some of them were barely memorable, but the ones like DuckTales, TaleSpin and Chip n Dale: Rescue
By this point I’m fairly certain a lot of our readers were kids or preteens when the Disney lineup of cartoons was popular in the 1990s. Some of them were barely memorable, but the ones like DuckTales, TaleSpin and Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers were good enough that some of us (definitely including myself) can sing the theme songs verbatim on the drop of a dime. Of course, in the period between ’89 and ’92, during the last big boom for the NES, a lot of these and other pop culture staples got licensed games. Again, some of these were unfortunate flops in terms of quality, but Rescue Rangers was actually one of the decent ones.
I sang along with this all the way through before grabbing the embed code. Please feel free to do the same. If you’re self-conscious, just make sure no one’s watching… they may want to join in.
If you’re not familiar with the history of the chipmunk duo, they had been around well before someone put clothes on them and made them tiny detectives. They were actually created back in 1943, and appeared in 23 short films until about 1956. They usually acted as gentle antagonists or foils to the dog Pluto, another staple background character in the Disney lineup. In 1988, Disney got the idea of reviving the two chipmunks as part of their flourishing series of network cartoons. The series was run on Disney channel in 1989, and entered network syndication on ABC and CBS in 1990. The show lasted until 1993 on television, and was quietly phased out along with most of Disney’s early-90s afternoon syndicated toons.
In the summer of 1990, Capcom released the Rescue Rangers game for the NES. This was Capcom’s second Disney-themed release for the NES, after 1989’s hugely successful DuckTales title. Overall, Chip n Dale sold 1.2 million copies worldwide for the NES, which we’ll acknowledge as a modest but solid success for a game of the period. It is widely praised not only for its creatively designed gameplay, but also for its engaging 2 player experience wherein many parts of the game are much more fun if played with both chipmunks.
The North American and Japanese box art. The game’s Japanese title is Chippu to Dēru no Daisakusen, which just means “Chip n Dale’s Mission.”
The plot of the game begins with the duo investigating a lost kitten, which turns out to be a ruse by the series villain, Fat Cat. The porcine feline has used the trick to kidnap Gadget, the team’s tech wizard, and put her talents to nefarious ends. From stage to stage, she is able to send small hints via a crude phone she makes without Fat Cat’s knowledge. Chip and Dale must navigate a not-totally-linear series of stages to try and reach Fat Cat’s lair before he achieves his evil plan, whatever it is. Part of your pursuit of Fat Cat involves using a rocket to go to a whole new map of levels.
Our tiny pair of gumshoes are besieged the entire time by a strange crew of baddies: evil robots, metal mice, shapechanging glop monsters, rude kangaroos, and assorted other ne’er-do-wells who want to keep them from their goal. Chip and Dale are able to defend themselves by taking a page out of Super Mario Brothers 2‘s book, lifting and hurling all kinds of objects. They can even hurl one another, although this can be a risky tactic at best. Larger items, when lifted, can slow you down a little, but these are few and far between. Gameplay involves not only tossing tiny boxes at your enemies, but also navigating nasty puzzles. Notable are two examples: a series of faucets you must turn off as you advance to avoid being scalded, and a set of switches attached to machines that will drop heavy metal ball bearings on you if not deactivated. The bosses are all huge (compared to you), and require a few smacks with some item nearby to put them down. You can also get a powerup that summons Zipper, the little mosquito or hornet guy, or whatever he was supposed to be. Not only are you invulnerable while he stays on screen, but he flies around stinging the shit out of anything he can reach, which can clear a screen pretty quick.
A small gallery of the lunacy our eensy-weensy heroes must endure to rescue their friend and stop Fat Cat. Click an image to enlarge it (a little bit).
Both this game and DuckTales got sequels on the same console, and those titles were fairly popular as well. A completely unrelated Chip n Dale game came out for mobile in 2010, but I wasn’t able to find much about it anywhere. Also of note, the game was ported to Nintendo’s PlayChoice10 arcade-style console.
I grant Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers for the NES 7 out of 10 stars. It’s a really fun game to play with two players, it’s respectably difficult but approachable, and overall it’s a memorable Capcom title. It also deserves credit as another example of a licensed game that isn’t utter shit.