Chuck Rock Review (Sega Genesis / Mega Drive)

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Chuck Rock was a cartoonish platformer developed by Core Design back in 1991. The same studio who were later responsible for the creation of Tomb Raider. Unfortunately, this title didn’t quite reach the same level of success, spawning only two more games related to the series. So is it any good? Let’s take a look, shall we?

The game opens with a very funky intro tune and throws you straight into the action. As soon as you press start, the game begins! No story, no true introduction, you just go in and start chucking rocks about.

The actual story is that Chuck’s wife (Ophelia) has been kidnapped by a jealous dinosaur who goes by the name of Gary Gritter (Haha!) and you’ve got to travel through jungles, swamps, icy mountains and even a dinosaur’s insides to save her!

As the name suggests, Chuck Rock involves you throwing rocks about to aid your progress, such as to kill enemies and reach higher areas. If you’re not holding a rock, you can still hit enemies with a kick or even slap them in the face with your belly. Great stuff!

For an early Mega Drive title, the graphics are pretty good. There’s a fair amount of variety in the levels and enemies throughout and the art style fits well with the fun and cartoony feel to the game. It’s not the best looking game on the system by far, but you can tell effort went into it and it’s certainly got character.

With regards to the music, this was something I really enjoyed. The tunes aren’t quite as memorable as those found in early Sonic games, but I certainly found them catchy and well suited to the game. The music on the last level feels a little bit out of place for a dinosaur graveyard, but it’s actually one of my favourites to listen to.

There’s also a lot of charm in the simplicity of the controls and streamlined gameplay, which makes this one of those titles that can be fun to just pick-up-and-play. There’s a fair amount of challenge here too, which keeps you on your toes and often you will need quick reflexes to avoid damage.

In some areas, the placement of enemies or sheer number of them can feel a bit “cheap”, as they are either hidden behind objects or in areas that are almost impossible to avoid, but personally I don’t feel this is too bad. I think it’s more to do with level design in general back then and the limitation platform games had for providing challenge.

There was only one enemy in the game who really frustrated me, which was the boss at the end of level three. The hit detection can be a little hit and miss anyway, but the way the boss moves and how Chuck controls under water made this much harder than it needed to be. Luckily, I had my Sega Mega Drive Power Tips Book at hand to work out what I was doing wrong, and just kicked the crap out of his stomach until he died.

One more issue is that the game can be a little bit on the short side. There’s five levels to play through which are each split into three areas with a boss at the end. It is possible to complete it in under 40 minutes, but there is plenty of variety in the areas, enemies and boss battles to make this game fun.

I’m not entirely sure if continues are point-based, but I was only given one continue per play though no matter how many collectables and points I tried to get. It would have been nice to have the option of three continues or earning more, especially with some of the tougher boss battles and later levels.

Chuck Rock Review Summary

B Recommended
Overall I found Chuck Rock to be an enjoyable but short adventure. I felt that they didn't quite fully utilise the rock throwing mechanics, as they could have possibly included them in puzzles instead of the overwhelming use of enemies to provide challenge.

The collision detection isn't quite perfect and there are a few minor frustrations, but if you approach this game with a little patience, I feel it's an enjoyable distraction. It's got quite a good retro arcade platformer feel to it and makes for a fun game to play in short bursts from time to time. If you can find it cheap, I'd certainly suggest you give it a try.

Matt has been hooked on games since he received his first console (a SEGA Mega Drive) for his 7th birthday. He now spends most of his time on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Nintendo 3DS, but will use any excuse for a retro gaming night.


Posted on March 29, 2016 | Last modified: 29th March 2016