Chuck is a caveman, .and he's got a problem. It's a problem familiar to anyone who's played a Japanesey arcade/adventure game before. And this is what it is: his chick's been kidnapped and he's got to go and rescue her. Well, actually he hasn't got to go and rescue her, but you know what we mean. (After all, it'd be a waste of 20 quid if you sat there and watched his unmoving body standing at the begging of level one for hours on end).
Anyway, after that brief 'aside', we can get back to the fact that Chuck is indeed going to try to win his love back. And to get you in the mood for the game that's about to come, Core has bundled a demo in with the two game disks. A nicely animated and jolly demo too, which shows all the events leading up to the actual kidnap.
There's Chuck lazing about in the lounge watching telly (and throwing beer cans at it). Then there's his chick Ophelia, who's out in the garden hanging up the washing (with not a 'New Age man' in sight to help her). And then, da-da, there's the snatch itself, Garry Gritter, the villain of the piece, sneaking up on Ophelia, chucking her over his shoulder, and making off into the distance. ("You get to see her pants, it's brill" - A French person).
And so it goes on, with Chuck realising something is amiss and giving chase - in the nude, because his strides are still in the wash. ("Ooh la la!" - Another French person). It's all a bit like a 40 second episode of The Flintstones that would go down well in Le Touquet, really.
And you can watch it again and again until you decide you don't want to any more whereupon you can re-format the disk for your own use - it's just like a 'get a quid back free' special offer. Anyhow, now you know about the kidnap demo, you'll want to know about the game, won't you? Yes, of course you will.
Dunc: As a genre paints at least 200 words, I may as well start with Chuck Rock's very own genre: it's a viewed from the side hit and kick 'em up platform-cum-maze-game. There are five levels (with underwater segments where your breath can run out), and each of the five levels is split into a further five sub-levels.
So you can take that as five levels or 25 levels (depending on how your mind works - I personally see it as nine levels, but that's because I'm completely crap at counting).
So what makes Chuck Rock stand out a bit from the crowd of platform games? The humour in the visuals, that's what. It's a sort of cross between Terry Gilliam's Python stuff and early sixties Hanna Barbera, and there are loads of 'neat little touches' scattered about throughout the game (such as, while trying to walk under the nether regions of a stationary Diplodocus, it goes ploppy plops on your head)> (Stop being so childish. Eed.)
Anyway, so now you know that it's an amusing platform game, what else do you need to know? Well, I suppose Chuck's fighting moves and a little bit of info on the enemy sprites would help.
Here goes. Chuck can do a flying kick or a tummy-butt. The flying kick's self-explanatory, but the tummy business probably needs illuminating. (It doesn't actually, but go on anyway. Ed.). Imagine what would happen if obese, beer-gutted dart player Jocky Wilson pulled his stomach in till he had a figure like, I don't know, Linford Christie or someone. Mmmm? All that fat packed in, denser than 10 gold ingots. Now imagine Jocky simultaneously letting go of the gathered flesh and doing a forward pelvic thrust. Yeah?
Imagine being on the receiving end of that. You could probably knock a bridge down. Maybe two. No bridges for Chuck though - he has to knock down dinosaurs.
There are loads of the basts, from weeny (and quite pathetic) newty-type things all the way up to ginormous mammoths, sabre-tooths and so on. (And don't write in and say 'mammoths and sabre-toths weren't dinosaurs, because they were. They lived in the same time period. Anyone who's seen Four Million Years BC starring Raquel Welch will know I'm right).
As well as the nasties (all with their own various idiosyncrasies), bits of the scenery can fall on you as well (the aforementioned jobbies being a case in point). As you progress through the levels, the maze element becomes tougher - there are only so many ways through. Oh, and like a clot I've forgotten something crucial - the rocks.
While stumbling along picking up bonus points and energy icons, Chuck may happen upon a rock. It might be a massive boulder or it might be a teensy-weensy pebble, but Chuck can pick it up and throw it. Or he can hold it above his head and use it as a shield. Or, more importantly, he can bung it on the floor and use it as a stone-age step-ladder to help him reach those platforms which would otherwise be out of reach. And sometimes he needs to balance one on top of another. And you know when you really, really need a rock?
Yup - they're just like taxis. They're incredibly difficult to find. Oh, and incidentally, while I know it's hardly a major feat of programming expertise, the rocks have 'weight'. They affect Chuck's jumping abilities (if he's holding one, of course) and tend to send him plunging down into the dark depths of the water--filled caverns more efficiently than if he'd bought a ticket for the Titanic's maiden voyage.
Some games fall flat on their face in overcrowded genres like this one, some games provoke a sort of "yeah, well, tum-de-tum-de-tum", while others entertain you with their original approach and draw you in to the point at which you realise you're a teensy-weensy bit hooked. Chuck Rock falls into the latter category, with the blend of humour, action, mapping and logic slotted together in such a way as to produce a very enjoyable Ice Age romp. It definitely gets a big thumbs up from me!