Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ultra Review Roundtable: Chip'n'Dale Rescue Rangers (1990)

Ed.:  This is a neat idea hatched by one of my fellow retro gaming bloggers over at  We're all playing a retro videogame and commenting on it, with the assembled, hopefully entertaining results cross-posted on all of our blogs/sites.  The project kicks off with a review of Capcom's Chip'n'Dale Rescue Rangers, published for the 8-bit NES in 1990 based on the popular Disney animated TV series.  We're doing it EGM-style as a group, with most of the heavy editorial and layout lifting done by HagenDragmire.  The bulk of the material is below the fold -- enjoy, and please visit my fellow contributors' sites!


In 1990, Capcom released Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers for the Nintendo Entertainment System, a platform game featuring single and two player cooperative modes. Players are allowed to choose which levels to access via a map, giving them access to various locations in the city in whatever order they choose. Each individual stage is set-up as a side-scrolling action game where Chip and Dale battle enemies and bosses. The overall plot starts simple having the rangers rescue a small kitten but it quickly expands to Gadget being kidnapped. It’s up to Chip and Dale to rescue her and stop the nefarious feline kingpin Fat Cat's schemes.


In Rescue Rangers you can play as either Chip and/or Dale. Both Chip and Dale have exactly the same abilities which includes running, ducking, jumping, and throwing objects until you get to the end of each stage. Some objects restrict movement and jumping, while boxes and blocks allow you to hide inside them. Hiding allows you to be safely hit but you then lose the box you are hiding under; blocks stick around after being hit to be picked up and used multiple times. Throughout some stages
there are various things you must do to get through; such as using the wooden boxes to hit a switch, stacking blocks, or jumping up and down on something to be able to progress. The two player co-op mode was a given and pretty nice for whenever you had a friend over to tag along and
enjoy the game with you. You do have to be careful though since you can hit each other which can lead to “accidental” deaths.

Graphics and Sound

Rescue Rangers uses a decent array of colors and each stage has its own theme so it never gets boring to go through a level. No two stages feel exactly the same. The bosses are a treat to look at since in most cases they are pretty huge and have their own music. This makes it pretty epic to be at the end of each and every stage. Both Chip and Dale are basically just a sprite swap on one another with minor differences.

The music as with most Capcom games on the NES is extremely catchy. The main theme though is something that alone is worth listening to all on it’s own since it was captured perfectly in all its midi glory. The sound effects work well for their intended purposes, though sometimes the actual pitch of them is pretty horrific if you have your television up too loud. This is especially noticeable when collecting items or when you get hit.

Tag Lines

“Rescue Rangers is without a doubt one of the best licensed games that has come out.”

“Challenging enough to keep a skilled gamer occupied for a hour or so.”

“Throwin' stuff solves everything.”

“The most damning flaw is that Rescue Rangers is far too easy.”

“Does Gadget have big sexy boobs?”

Published and Developed by:
Capcom U.S.A.

Released: June 1990

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

Genre: Action

Perspective: Platform, Side-Scrolling

Mr.Armitage from
Likes: Racing/Driving Games, Arcade, Puzzle
Dislikes: RPGs

When you put Capcom and Disney together you usually get a wonderful gaming experience.  Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers is yet another that you can add to that list.  A very enjoyable platformer game with excellent control, great sprites, not to dumb of enemies, and good music. Although the music can get a tad annoying after half an hour.  I know very little about the Rescue Rangers but I do know Chip and Dale used to just annoy the #@$@ out of Donald Duck and Pluto.  They where only really into helping themselves and not others, so Rescue Rangers is a new concept to me. I guess I am just showing my age.

Playing through single player mode, I was able to get up to the 2nd level boss on my very first try, so it’s not too much of a challenge.  With the three continues the game gives you, it doesn’t take long to finish. There are a few negatives to the game play. First off, the scrolling background is fixed to a point so when you move right you can’t go back left. This becomes particularly annoying when heading up a stage which creates instant pitfalls on everything below you.  I also don’t understand the map, which is reminiscent of  Super Mario Bros 3. You can skip three levels in the game and there is really no need go back and complete them whatsoever, other than just to beat them.

The 2 player mode can turn into a “bonk fest” if you aren’t into playing nice with your partner. If you throw stuff at them, it will make them dizzy which allows enemies will kill your partner.  This usually starts out as a mistake but then erupts into something more sinister!  Really the game is a little too easy and not really long enough, so I guess I should not have skipped those three levels! Rescue Rangers is one of those games that can be enjoyed by those of all ages and skill levels, as there is not a huge learning curb, but also is challenging enough to keep a skilled gamer occupied for a hour or so.

4 out of 5 Fat Cats

HagenDragmire from
Likes: Action RPGs, Platformers, Beer
Dislikes: Sports Games, Strategy Games

Playing Rescue Rangers for the first time since I used to rent it as a kid was refreshing. All the great memories I had of this game came flooding back to me in an instant. I chose Dale so I could reek some havoc since he was always an ass-hat. Of course both Chip and Dale control the same, but it's just the principle of the matter, I have be the nitwit of the pair. Right off the bat, Rescue Rangers seems a lot easier than I remember growing up. The optimal technique is rudimentary, just keep throwing boxes at everything that moves until you came across concrete "boxes"; I say boxes because apparently you can go inside concrete and hide. Concrete is ace because it is infinitely reusable. All the bosses are ridiculously simple and if you throw the ball across the screen on the
same level as a boss you can usually get in multiple hits making them even easier.

2 Player co-op on the other hand is the bane of my very existence! The fact that you stun each other whenever you throw an item makes the game virtually unplayable with a friend. Instead of taking on the game as a well oiled chipmunk machine of awesomeness, co-op ends up being a race to get the most stars and 1-Ups to recover from the multiple unavoidable unintentional deaths. Those unintentional deaths quickly end up turning very intentional where the world is transformed into a mini version of Fight Club where you are throwing each other off of cliffs just out of spite! Rescue Ranges co-op must have been the reason why some of my friends never wanted to play games with me as a kid as I know I would be hitting them with boxes nonstop. Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, the destroyer of friendships....If I was rating Rescue Rangers just based on my single player experience, no doubt it would be a 5, but I must base my score on everything the game has to offer and the co-op knocks it down a peg. 

3 out of 5 Fat Cats

Sushi-Xpired from 

Likes: Adventure, RPG, Platformers
Dislikes: Racing Games, Sports Games

Good grief! It's not bad enough these Chippendale guys are always dancing around with their pants off in public, unlike decent human beings! Now they have to sully our cart-holes with their... What? Disney? Chipmunks? Well, whatever. They ain't wearin' no pants, neither! Why, when I was your age, we'd have to sneak stealthily through the bushes outside the YMCA, uphill, both ways, in the snow, fighting off Siberian tigers and ethnic types, just to ride the school bus. And by "ride the school bus," I mean, "get a glimpse of some homemade man-sausage!" No, wait. I meant to say "big sexy boobs!" Does Gadget have big sexy boobs?

Also good advice for playing Halo online

Seriously, I was in college when DuckTales debuted, and had graduated by the time Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers arrived, so I was a little out of the target demographic. But I’ve always appreciated Disney's commitment to quality TV animation, and I’m a fan of the Carl Barks comic book adventures that inspired these shows. I had to look up a few clips online to confirm that the game’s title screen uses the show's theme song, which I had never heard and now have stuck in my head... Ch-ch-ch-Chip ‘n Dale....Rescue Rangers!

Truth be told, this NES game proved more difficult than I expected. The bosses aren’t bad and while getting to each of them, I found the plentiful stars and 1-Ups very handy. The old Capcom coin-op two-player continue trick doesn't work for Rescue Rangers and the scrolling is locked, forcing both characters to stay in the same part of the map. So I sallied forth in single-player mode as Dale. I liked that some levels have no bosses at all, presenting platforming challenges with tricky timing and fatal falls instead. Also, it was interesting that after Fat Cat's apparent defeat in Zone G, three new zones open up. Capcom’s cartridge has polished Mega Man-style level design, colorful Disney cartoon visuals, and some challenging game-play.

4 out of 5 Fat Cats

AlphaOmegaSin from Likes: RPGs, Beat ‘em Ups, Action/Adventure
Dislikes: Sports, Girly Simulation Games

Being a big fan of the Rescue Rangers show when I was little made it a guarantee that I would be getting this game. What was nice was that Capcom gave this the sort of special care and attention that Duck Tales got, which was another cartoon I was watching at the time. Disney pretty much had us all glued to our TVs and Nintendo games were for when the cartoons were over.

The controls in Rescue Rangers is spot on. Jumps are tight and the fact that you can throw up, down, left, or right, makes it so that you don't ever get into a situation where have no choice but to take one for the team. The level design within the game was always neat, especially for a little kid, because it made you feel as small as they were. Being in a stage where you can hop around on pencils and water faucets and the like while fending off enemies always felt really cool. The puzzle aspects are a nice addition to the stages and keep them from growing stale by not doing the same things over and over again. 

My only complaint with Rescue Rangers is that, when playing two player co-op, the difficulty seems to stay the same as the single player mode. I personally would like a little more challenge since its much easier to decimate the game with a friend tagging along. The bosses are never extremely hard as they always have the traditional set pattern to learn. After you learn the pattern it’s a cake walk.

All in all, Rescue Rangers is one of the best platformers of the NES era. It really is a lot of fun. With a good amount of stages, catchy music, fun level design, and awesome control, it’s hard to say anything but good things about it. Plus it’s licensed after a cartoon that many of my friends and I watched religiously. Rescue Rangers is without a doubt one of the best licensed games that has come out. If you were a kid that watched the show and never got to try the game then you owe it to yourself to play Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers.

5 out of 5 Fat Cats

NathanRadness from
Likes: Final Fantasy series, Chrono Trigger, The Famicom, Persona series, The Genesis, Mario World, JRPGs

Dislikes: MMORPGs, Online Gaming, First Person Shooters (except Bioshock), 75% off all new video games

Rescue Rangers, while certainly a staple of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s large and varied library, is noticeably lacking when compared to Capcom's most famous and greatest Disney title, the near flawless Duck Tales. The most damning flaw is that Rescue Rangers is far too easy. The entire game can be conquered in 25 easy minutes, with 9 stages in total with two being completely optional. With absolutely no incentive or reward for completing these two stages, the game is essentially 7 short stages. There are few boss fights, all of which are basically the identical fight with boss sprite swaps; even the final battle against Fat Cat . The addition of a two player mode is a novel concept, however the screen size is too small to do much more that knock each other unconscious and hinder each others' progress.

The main draw of Rescue Rangers is that Chip and/or Dale are miniaturized, and as such, all of level design in the game reflects this. Whether it be switching off giant water taps, jumping on ceiling fans, or throwing apples five times your size at mechanical mice, the bright and varied environments are fun to play through. The main attack mechanic is that you can pick up, throw, or hide in these tiny crates that seem to be scattered throughout each level. Again, this mechanic was pretty uninspired, even by the standards of that day, especially when compared to the pogo stick in Duck Tales. All in all Rescue Rangers, is still a must have platformer for the NES. Just don't expect the level of greatness based upon hype it has garnered over the years.

3 out of 5 Fat Cats
NintendoLegend from Likes: RPG, Run 'n' Gun, Sports, Quirky Games, Overhead Adventure Games, Platformers, Beat ‘em Ups
Dislikes: Shoot 'em Up, Puzzle, Time Limits, Item-Finding

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, not to be confused with Power Rangers, is the game that should be pointed to when someone thoughtlessly blurts the sentiment that all licensed games inevitably suck, i.e. “AVGN blah blah LJN blah blah X-men is horrible!” Although many licensed games were especially bad back in the 8-bit days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, I find Rescue Rangers to be very enjoyable. This action platformer is highlighted by fast-paced slick gameplay, subtle innovations such as crouching under a box to become a booby trap for enemies, and overall high-quality design.

Alien Starships?
Good thing this baddie is stupid enough to leave a Red Ball of Boss Death lying around...

From the box-tossing madness in Fat Cat's lair to the flying-squirrel-dodging frenzy in the trees, Rescue Rangers delivers on all counts, to a satisfaction that stands somewhere between Darkman and Mega Man. Capcom knew what they were doing, and despite the oddity of the pervasive Red Ball of Boss Death, scrape away with a winner. Seriously, pick up a controller and give the Rangers a shot. Or has Fat Cat, clearly an analogy for rampant capitalism, bought your heartfelt allegiance? The moral: Throwin' stuff solves everything. Rescue Rangers gets four Fat Cats out of five in my book; fortunately, my book is relevant to NES reviews, with insightful footnotes pointing out
Capcom's tendency to include level-selection over-worlds in their titles.

4 out of 5 Fat Cats

Ultra Review Roundtable

Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Fat Cats
Last Updated on January 19, 2011

Here is the ratings scheme for all reviews. Everything is out of 5, no half points.

- Near Perfect, no collection should be without it -

- Must Play, not perfect, but excels on many levels -

- Still a good game, but could be better -

- Decent game, has a lot of flaws, but is playable -

- Bad game, but may have one quality that redeems it -

- God awful game, don't even look in the direction of this otherwise you will turn into stone -

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