It was easier to think Disney's Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers was a good game back when I had little else to compare it to. Even then I knew it was the easiest game in my NES collection, and certainly nowhere close to Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario Bros. 3 in terms of quality, or even Super Mario Bros. 2, whose gameplay it most closely emulates.
Capcom made Rescue Rangers 2 with the notion that anyone interested in Disney games would be little kids who wouldn't want to play anything challenging. The problem is that it was released near the end of the NES's lifespan - most people who would still own and be playing an NES at that point would no longer be "little kids". It's not as though the game was sold cheaper because it was aimed at children who have less money than adults or teenagers. For the same price you could get Super Mario Bros. 3, which has plenty of levels that even little kids can beat, but also a gondola of stuff for older gamers. And why, exactly, are developers afraid of challenging children? When I was a kid, I didn't shy away from games that were "too hard". I couldn't beat the second loop of Moon Patrol when I was 8. I can now. Isn't it better to have something you can grow up with?
It's not enough to say that Rescue Rangers is "too easy". It's level design is a vapid wasteland and the story is so nonsensical that it's an insult to the cartoon series. See if you can follow this: In the opening cinema, FatCat breaks out of jail (!), and this somehow makes the news (!!). (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the impression that in the Rescue Rangers "universe", the human stuff and the animal stuff exist on two different levels of reality. To the Rescue Rangers, FatCat is a notorious crime boss, but to humans he would just be a cat. Albeit, a well-dressed cat who wouldn't take too kindly to being kept indoors, but still, he's just a cat, right?) He plants a bomb in a restaurant (?!) to cause a diversion so that he can steal the Urn of the Pharoah (???). Chip mysteriously knows exactly where FatCat is taking the urn, even though he's only told that it was stolen.
Eventually it's revealed that the urn escapade was another diversion (sheesh!) so that FatCat could take over an amusement park (!!!). He then explicitly tells you how to find him in the park, and when you do, you discover that his ultimate goal is not to rule the world, or cause destruction, or commit crimes, or become a rollercoaster tycoon. His master plan, apparently, was to create the world's most inarticulated robot. Seriously. The final boss is a FatCat robot that is so inefficient it can barely move. If you get behind it, it can't do a damn thing to you, and it lobs bombs that it can't get out of the way of. So, eventually it destroys itself. What an ultimate weapon! Those robot pets you can buy in toy stores have more functionality, and judging by the size of the FatCat robot in comparison to Chip and Dale, it's only about as big as one of them, too.
The gameplay remains pretty much the same as in the original, with Chip and Dale picking up crates and other objects to chuck at enemies, Super Mario Bros. 2-style. Rescue Rangers 2 has a few extra gimmicks, but they're almost always meant to make things easier (ie, a reusable baseball that can be thrown straight up to knock out overhead foes, or the ability to throw crates diagonally.) The boss fights are marginally more difficult than those of the original game, but that's not saying much. Some are complete jokes, like a weasel on a screen that continuously scrolls upwards. Once you get ahead of him, he can't hit you because the fireballs he shoots go through the platform you have to stand on instead of over it. Just like the FatCat robot, the first boss will self-destruct if you stay out of his way and let the crates fall on him. Other boss fights are too drawn out, as they take forever to become vulnerable and then about a gazillion hits to kill. (The mummy in particular comes to mind.) I'm guessing it's like this so that you wouldn't beat the bosses too quickly if you were playing a 2-player game. I'd say that they should have adjusted it for a one-player game, but it really wouldn't have mattered much overall.
Stages are generally set up so that there's a lot of empty space and a few sparse enemies. There will sometimes be one spot where things are a little more difficult, but it's no big deal since the ability to increase your life meter makes it possible to "rambo" through them. There's usually a life refill just beyond any such parts, too, so you never have to worry. This is even true of the final level, which is devoid of anything to distinguish it from the other stages, let alone as the most challenging one. Another problem with RR2 is that it rehashes level designs from the first game. Here we have yet another retread of a restaurant with barstools, a kitchen, and a blue sewer area with pipes. This seems all the worse when you realize that there are fewer stages in this game, and not even any optional ones.
RR2's graphics are more colorful than the first game's (which I remember having a lot of grey), but they're not spectacular, either. There's a cool effect in the haunted house where a painting looks like a normal man in a top hat when the lights are on, but when they're off, it becomes a skeleton. That, and some of Capcom's trademark large and colorful bosses are about as good as it gets. Just like in the first Rescue Rangers game, there is a huge problem with size inconsistencies, caused by the designers desperately trying to stay within the confines of the "small chipmunk in a human-sized world" idea. In the original game, the size of Chip and Dale compared to the trash cans and potted plants in the first level seemed about right. But when you entered the building, there were test tubes and pencils that were larger than the trash cans outside were. By the time you got to the final areas, there were thumbtacks that were bigger than you. In Rescue Rangers 2, when you find the bomb, it's smaller than Chip and Dale. How much destruction could it have possibly caused? The Urn of the Pharoah is also smaller than Chip and Dale, making it the approximate size of a thimble.
The cinema scenes between levels go on forever...and ever...and ever (and you can't skip them!). I trust the cartoon had better writing than this, even for a kids' show. Along with how utterly stupid it is, we're treated to not one, not two, but THREE of the most prolific cliches in amateur writing:
1. A scene where a bomb is about to explode and the characters have to decide which wire to cut - red or blue?
2. A great "James Bond" moment where FatCat has the Rescue Rangers trapped and could easily dispose of them, but instead, gives them a chance to escape and even tells them how to do it.
3. "Oh no! The building has collapsed! Our friends didn't make it out in time!" And of course, several moments later, they walk on-screen. Judging by the direction they come from, the panicking character should have seen them long before he finished his sentence.
The music ranges from annoying (the Western World theme) to forgettable (just about everything else). There's nothing as good as the FatCat Factory (final level) theme of the original Rescue Rangers game, which is probably one of the reasons I was not as hard on it as I should have been in my old review. Before the days of NSFs and midis, I remember playing through that game many times just so I could hear that song. There is no music, or anything else, that is worth playing through Rescue Rangers 2 to experience.
Capcom's Disney games have a reputation for being amongst the best games on the NES, but the truth is they aren't. They really aren't. DuckTales and Rescue Rangers are much too short and easy, TaleSpin is downright terrible, and Rangers Rangers 2 combines all of those attributes. Although their respective TV series received accolades from critics and fans alike for being intelligent kids' entertainment, the simplicity and condescending nature of these games is a direct insult to that intelligence. Sometimes, when we look back on shows and games that entertained us as children, we can clearly see why we liked them, and may even be surprised at how well they hold up. Other times, we wonder why we ever liked them in the first place, aside from being young and not knowing any better. The craziest thing of all is that Rescue Rangers 2 was released after the TV series had its run. At that point, what kid in the targeted age group would have seen the show and wanted a game based on it? And what person who had grown up with the show would still want a game based on it and think this one was adequate?
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