Returning to The Disney Afternoon for this entry, Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is a classic platformer starring the titular former-B-list Disney characters. The TV series revitalized the characters by placing them in an action TV series with solid writing, real stakes and a great theme song. As was the case with Duck Tales, Capcom brought on Tokuro Fujiwara to spearhead the NES license and it definitely paid off.
Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is a very traditional platformer, borrowing the “pick-up-and-throw” mechanic from Doki Doki Panic! (Super Mario Bros. 2 in North America). You navigate multi-layered platforming stages with widely interactive environments full of dangerous traps. The varied levels are full of objects and enemies that affect the way you approach each area and a lot of care obviously went into making the gameplay flow. It is endlessly satisfying to pick up objects and toss them at targets with well-placed hits. This is especially the case since your only weapons are a few objects in the world that you can actually pick up, so if you run out of crates at the wrong time you could find yourself having to think fast, especially when that stack of crates once made up your vertical escape if things happened to go wrong. Because of this, seemingly-simple moments in later levels can rapidly become very tense. Add to this a fun and highly-exploitable co-op mode where you can pick up and throw your friends to exploit shortcuts and find new ways to approach each section of the game and you have an enjoyable, well-rounded experience.
Visually this is a very high-quality NES game. Capcom was always pretty consistent in the quality of their in-game graphics and Chip n Dale is near-perfect in its sprites while maintaining the cartoon aesthetic established in its animated originator. Detailed objects fill complex and well-designed levels and animations are varied and fluid. It’s also a very colorful game, with even the darkest environments carrying a bright, cartoonish coloring to them. As for sound, the effects are decent but the soundtrack is a little lacking, especially compared to the masterful compositional work in DuckTales.
All-in-all, I would say that Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers is one of the best platformers on the NES, and while it isn’t as good as DuckTales, it still brings with it for me great feelings of nostalgia while playing it. I still drop this cart into my NES on occasion and always enjoy it. It has recently been released alongside DuckTales in the Disney Afternoon collection and is a solid game to own if you’re a fan of great retro platforming action. As for the cartridge, it is a fairly common game but is in-demand, so it tends to hover around the $10 mark. NES owners owe it to themselves to pick this one up. It’s certainly more affordable than its sequel. Chip n’ Dale Rescue rangers is a fun time that holds up quite well in a genre that tends to feature games that do not age all that well.