Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck (Game Gear)

It looks like we’ll be heading back down memory lane with another of my Game Gear favorites. Today we’ll be looking at what was one of the first games I ever beat on my own, Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck. Growing up, I know I beat this game quite a few times. I remember it being a fun, but fairly easy game with a lot of charm. Unfortunately I can’t remember a whole lot about the game past the first few levels. Let’s hope it comes rushing back to me as I play.

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I’ve never played the original Chuck Rock game, I should probably pick that game up at some point to review too. Anyway, in Chuck Rock II, you play as Chuck Rock’s son, Chuck Rock Jr. It would seem Chuck’s archrival Brick Jagger has captured dear old dad, and now it’s up to you to save him. And so Chuck Rock Jr puts on a clean diaper, grabs his wooden club, and sets out on his own adventure. Do you have what it takes to survive the harsh prehistoric world to rescue your father? Let’s find out!

Gameplay

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The game starts with no introduction. Instead you’re simply thrown into the world and expected to find your way, which was a common opening for most games back then. You’ll quickly find yourself coming across some of your caveman neighbors who for some reason act as enemies in this game. Most of them seem to be minding their own business. Especially this guy who’s wig doesn’t seem quite dead yet.

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Even if the enemies aren’t all that threatening, the environment will be. In addition to smashing your enemies, you’ll have to use your club to smash down a few brick walls as well. You’ll also have to hold on tight as you swing over the occasional spike pit. But it’s all for the sake of saving dear old dad after all.

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Before we get too far, I want to point out that the game is just full of hidden surprises even right from the start. There are tons of hidden passages full of treats to find, and lots of invisible platforms to reach even more treats. Even out in the open, many of the flowers will give you points if you attack them. They look like just plain scenery, and really serve no other function, so it’s kind of impressive that they hid some points inside them.

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Anyway, the journey ahead is going to be full of many dangers. Landslides could happen at any moment causing rocks to come tumbling down the hills on top of you. You’ll have to swing across tons of vines, and risk your life over the spike pits. You’ll even face off against fierce dinosaurs hungry to make you a meal.

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…or at least your neighbors dressed up as dinosaurs for some reason. But don’t let any of that stop you. Face every danger head on and before you know it you’ll have made it to the end of the stage. We’re one step closer to saving dad now!

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There are of course great dangers lurking just around the corner for young Chuck Rock Jr. It seems he’s caught the eye of a hungry dinosaur, a real one this time. Despite being what looks like a brontosaurus, a plant eater, this dinosaur is eager to make a quick meal out of our diaper wearing hero.

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Chuck Rock Jr isn’t going to be quite the easy meal however. With his wooden club in hand his swings are strong enough to knock the teeth right out of the hungry dinosaur’s head. Next time he should pick a safer target for dinner, especially now that he’s lost all his teeth. It would be kind of hard to gum a creature to death.

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We may have escaped being eaten alive, but now it looks like we might be cooked alive instead. Just around the corner our young hero finds himself surrounded on all sides by red hot lava. Not only that, but the volcanoes in the distance are erupting, sending flaming balls of lava into the air.

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It would be hard for anyone to survive in these harsh conditions, yet alone a baby. However, the local dinosaurs seem to have figured it out. Equipped with full body fire retardant suits, these dinosaurs are perfectly safe from the heat. In fact they are so well adapted that they have come to master the flames with the use of their flame throwers. Wait a minute. Fire suits and flame throwers? What kind of dinosaurs are these.

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With genius dinosaur enemies like this, it’s good to know you have some friends on your side. In this case it’s a small turtle that seems to rather enjoy the lava. If you ask him nicely, he’ll be willing to ferry you across the lava to safety on the other side.

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Curiously, we seem not to be the only person here in the scorching waste. It would seem a mother is dragging along her children as they try to cross to lava fields no doubt in search of the greenery of the stages we just left. Unfortunately she becomes very hostile at the sight of our young hero and must be dealt with. Sadly this leaves the infants alone and vulnerable. They will no doubt soon die as well without their mother.

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Though we have become surrounded by death, these lava fields are also capable of breeding new life. Such is the case with the giant bird egg we find and witness hatch. Normally a bird would imprint on the first creature it sees and treat it as its mother. Sadly that is not the case with this bird. It is born with an instinct to kill by dropping flaming hot rocks on its enemies. This is something we can’t simply ignore, and we must teach this bird a lesson.

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This newborn sure does grow quickly. After a few dips in the lava, the creature seems to have grown out its feathers and even its beak looks more birdlike. No longer one to drop boulders on its prey, the bird now dive bombs at our hero in an attempt to finish the job personally.

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Again, we can’t let such actions go unpunished, especially from a newborn. With some quick actions, little Chuck Rock Jr brings his club down on the new born bird and sends it sinking back down into the lava where it belongs. Let’s hope mama bird wasn’t around to see any of that. I’m not sure we’d be able to handle her at our age.

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We made it out of that lava field and back to the safety of the green forests. No longer in the safety of our own neighborhood we won’t find any other humans out here. We will however find many of our distant cousins, the monkeys. These guys will constantly be jumping around, and throwing their bananas around at you. At least they aren’t throwing poop at you. Still, it’s very rude of them, and there’s only one way to stop them for good, a nice strong bash with your wooden club.

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Other than the monkeys, these levels are very similar the first stages. Swing from a few vines, try to avoid spikes and rocks, and just get to the end of the stages. The only new element I think worth noting are the giant ants you can occasionally ride to get across the spike pits.

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The monkeys of the forest may have been only a minor annoyance, but they’re no match for Ozric’s tentacles. This octopus like creature is ruler of the water, and a major threat to the life of young Chuck Jr as it spits water and throws small swordfish at our young hero.

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In a situation like this, there’s only one thing to do, grip up on that club and swing away at those swordfish. If you hit them just right, you can knock them into the air and arc them back to hit Ozric right in his oversized head. A few hits like that and he’ll be down for the count.

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Swimming past Ozric brings us down into the sewer systems. The idea of a sewer system on its own is very advanced for these cavemen, but where did they get all that toxic waste? That stuff doesn’t exactly occur naturally, especially not in clearly marked barrels like that.

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Also where did all of these pipes and conveyer belts come from? Am I missing something here? Did we travel into a different game entirely? I thought we were following a little cave baby rescue his cave dad. Are we working under Flintstone rules here where everything is stone age but somehow also futuristic?

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Survive the polluted horrors and you’ll finally find Chuck Rock and come face to face with Brick himself. At least I think that’s Brick. Is Brick a green fish bird thing? I have no idea who Brick is because I never played the first game. Whatever it is, it will regularly shoot its head off straight into the air as gears and springs come popping out. So I guess this must be some kind of robot controlled by Brick. Again this is very advanced for cavemen.

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After a few hits the green fish thing will disappear to be replaced with a somewhat more human looking thing that must finally be Brick himself. I think it’s supposed to be a seat back, but it has always looked like he has a massive tail like a kangaroo or something. With his robot fish thing destroyed he’ll try to finish you off himself by rising up and hitting you from below.

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Step out of the way when Brick goes for the kill, then swing away at his stupid face. How dare he kidnap your father like that? How dare he make a child travel across that treacherous world to get here. Bash him good until he can take no more and you’ve saved dear old dad.

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Just like that dad is safe, mom is happy, and brick goes to jail. All’s well that ends well.

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Verdict

Gameplay – 8.5 / 10

The gameplay is fun, but admittedly very simplistic. Each stage is fairly short and straight forward, but there are tons of secrets to find if you feel like looking for them. Then the controls are very responsive and everything is very intuitive. There are also a few standard mechanics I thought the game handled really well. For one thing, many of the spike pits are set up in a way that they won’t constantly damage you. After the initial damage you can safely walk among the spikes without fear of death. Finally there are the boss battles which are the cornerstone of any good action game. They all telegraph their attacks very nicely and make for fun but fairly easy fights.

Graphics – 9 / 10

I thought the graphics were very impressive, especially for a Game Gear game. The environments are all very vibrant and detailed. All the characters also have a lot of expression and humor to them, like the people dressed like dinosaurs or the dinosaurs with flamethrowers.

Audio – 9 / 10

I love the soundtrack of this game. All the music is very upbeat and fits the game perfectly.

Story – 3 / 10

The story as described in the manual is a fairly interesting one. Unfortunately none of that is really portrayed in the game. Really, you could go through the whole game without ever knowing what your goal is. However, that was common place for games of the time.

Total Playtime – 0h 40m

It’s a really short game, and even with all the secret areas there really isn’t much you can do about that. It’s kind of to be expected though. The game has no save system, and the Game Gear can only stay on for about 2 hours on a full set of 6 batteries.

Total Deaths – 12 Deaths

The game isn’t very hard, and most of my deaths were from simple carelessness. Like I said, I used to be able to beat this game legit when I was a kid. As it is, I only died 2 times more than would have been allowed in a legitimate playthrough. I’m sure I could beat it for real if I played it again right now. On the subject of deaths, I would like to point out how well this game handles dying. Any time you die, you get to continue playing right from where you died without much interruption to the gameplay.

Overall Score – 8.5 / 10

I loved this game as a kid, and I still love it now. The game is very short and easy, almost to a fault, but what little game is there is a fun one. The graphics are great with a lot of humor on the little screen. Then the music is fitting and memorable. Possibly most importantly are the fun boss battles. They were all easy if you paid just the slightest attention, but they still felt like epic battles. The first boss in particular has always been my favorite. There’s just an odd thrill to knocking its teeth out and seeing as his face became bandaged and swollen. If you still have a working Game Gear, do yourself a favor and pick up this great title. If not, there’s also a version for the Genesis which has extra levels in it. Honestly I’ll have to pick up that version for myself at some point too. Whichever version you end up playing, you’re almost certain to have a good time.

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Yay! We’re a family again!

 

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