Licensed To Kill: 1990’s ‘Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers’

NES 'Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers'

Some of my earliest memories related to video games involve sitting around trying desperately to play the 1990 NES video gameChip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, a platform game developed by Capcom and based on the Disney cartoon of the same name. I was never very good at it, and I suspect that this has not changed in the intervening years.

The gameplay for the title mostly consisted of jumping from spot to spot across side-scrolling stages as Chip (or Chip and Dale if playing the cooperative mode) while avoiding various enemies — like robot dogs — and any projective they might happen to shoot. Similar to contemporaries like Super Mario Bros., some enemies could easily be swatted away by tossing stuff at them. In Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, said “stuff” was often small boxes that little chipmunks could lift for whatever reason.


For its part, the story of the game goes a little something like this: there’s a missing kitten, so the Rescue Rangers go off to, err, rescue it. Turns out this is all a ruse for the evil Fat Cat — a villain from the cartoon who is literally a fat cat — to kidnap fellow ranger Gadget. Luckily, she’s eventually able to contact the heroes, who then rescue her. To recap: the Rescue Rangers rescue a ranger in the Rescue Rangers video game based on the Rescue Rangers cartoon. They then take on Fat Cat himself — who shoots … ash, it looks like? From his cigar. That’s how he attacks.

Really, it’s hard to fault the game for sticking with the two most recognizable characters from the show while sidelining the three others. Gadget, Monterey Jack and Zipper aren’t exactly household names, and they still make appearances throughout. Of the group, Monterey Jack arguably receives the most useless cameo — a piece of cheese has him punch holes in walls that the player then walks through. On the other hand, the original theme song translates pretty well to the NES, so that’s a plus.

Despite largely being regarded as a decent or good game, the main complaint over the years has been that it’s just too easy. This is not my complaint, mind you, as we’ve already established that I’m terrible at it. It’s also often overlooked for the more popular DuckTales, another Capcom-developed Disney game for the NES. An archived version of a 2007 webpage featuring sales figures for Capcom puts Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers at 1,200,000 NES units moved, while DuckTales sits at a slightly more comfortable 1,670,000. In fact, even the Game Boy version ofDuckTales performed better, and the combined stats across platforms dwarf anything Chip ‘n Dale did.

On the other hand, Capcom did put out Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2 for the NES in 1993, so they clearly approved of how well the original did.

Licensed to Kill is a new weekly feature all about the weird world of licensed video games — in other words, games based on existing properties from movies, television shows, comic books and more. Sometimes, they’re great, sometimes they’re terrible, and sometimes, they occupy the plane of existence between the two.