|One of Sega's early and much-hyped DC games, from their golden boys at Sonic Team, I can't help but think that this fell a bit flat. It did the whole online thing with Sega.net, and you could even make and trade your own stage designs made in Edit mode, which I'm sure thrilled a small group of really, really hardcore manic puzzle fans, but for the rest of us--wait, why am I trying to speak for other people? I don't really like it, and that's that.|
The game has a sort of cute look, straight down 2D-style on a bright checkerboard playing field, with cute little cartoonish and simplistic gouraud-shaded cats and mice running around little mazes. The shamelessly bright and flat colors look cute in a kiddish sort of way, but the forms lack the design sense of, say, Namco's Driller Team (see entry 332, for instance), and sometimes end up looking downright ugly and amateurish. The menus in particular are unattractive, looking like some scrub just slapped down a few generic fonts and colored boxes in a word processing program.
The sounds probably annoy me more, though: the mice give off constant little shrill chirping sounds as they zip through the mazes. There are other sounds too, I think, but they're pretty boring and indistinct, if my poor memory of them serves correctly.
Multiplayer Battle mode is just insanity. You click a button on the D-pad corresponding to the direction you want mice to flow through the maze square you're highlighting, and this lays down an arrow indicating your order. You can only have a few of these arrows around at once, though, and they'll fade out on their own if you try leaving them. You want to guide the mice to your "ship," and keep the cats away (since these will sort of explode on your ship and lower your mouse total), but the cats, the mice, and your opponents move so ridiculously fast, and you have so little control over their movement, that to the uninitiated such as myself it seems like a crapshoot--particularly since as soon as you lay down an arrow, your opponent can lay down their own that cuts it off, so you would just end up in this endless loop of counteracting arrows, and the winner would be the one who happened to have their arrows in front when the valuable "Mouse Mania" mode occured (Mouse Mania, Cat Mania, and other modes occur seemingly at random intervals). I wouldn't be shocked if there was a little strategy to it, but there doesn't seem to be enough--or at least it isn't apparent enough.
I like the Puzzle mode stuff a little better. Here, you aren't bothered by random events or opponent moves; rather, you have a limited set of arrows to place before unleashing the mice and cats around the maze: set the arrows right and the mice all make it to your ship; set it wrong and some mice die or get stuck and you have to try again. I'm not sure how many stages there are, since 25 more unlocked after I beat the first 25, but they go pretty fast. You can make more in the easy-to-use Edit mode, but would it really be that fun to play your own puzzles? No. If you had a buddy who was into it, you could swap, and that might be sort of interesting, until one of you got tired of trying to come up with new ways to arrange grid-based 2D mazes on a fairly small screen area.
|Download added: puzzlestage5.gif (84596 bytes)|
"Puzzle stage 5, I think I've got it."
... I was going to say, "how can the DC render all those frickin' mice?! It's a gaming powerhouse!" but then my pinkie finger hit Enter a bit early.