The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Chuck Rock

There’s some kind of weird intrigue into cavemen, maybe it’s fascination as to how humanity evolved, maybe it’s us looking at the simplest times in the pre-Starbucks days when we were animals and fighting for our survival instead of checking e-mails. Or maybe we do it because of how stupid they look. Watch this clip.

Look at this guy, he’s not even wearing clothes and his hairs a mess, we should get Gok Wan to style this guy. Look at them, hunting for food, they haven’t even got an Aldi nearby, you call that living? Of course, for some reason at some point at some time, someone decided that actual cavemen doing cavemen things was boring, so they said “let’s modernise cavemen for a hip young audience” and gave us The Honeymooners goes prehistoric in the boring sitcom The Flinstones. Here was a family that drove cars, had dinosaurs as household tools, despite the fact that humans and dinosaurs never co-existed outside bad scientifically inaccurate fiction and humans had no need for cars or menial jobs moving rocks because they’re not lazy, couch potatoes who drink beer all day and watch the football. Except Fred Flintstone, but then he is American…

And having angrily crusaded against that sort of thing, this weeks game is…well, it’s just that. Chuck Rock is one of those novelty platformers that comes along every so often and by coincidence I always end up reviewing. BOO! Now, as far as bad concepts go, this is pretty much right at the bottom of the barrel. You play as Chuck, a caveman who’s in a rock band and HUR HUR Did you see what they did there, because rocks = stone age and look, there’s rock and roll music. Do you get it? Do you get it? DID YOU SEE THE **** JOKE IN THE TITLE? Anyway, so Chuck is your standard cartoon caveman, he’s hairy, he solves mysteries with teenage girls and he is actually the star of an unrelated Hana Barbera cartoon featuring a hairy testicle. I may have made that up. The plot of the game is your standard video game Mario rip-off excuse plot of the 2D platformer, Chuck Rock’s girlfriend has been stolen by fellow rock star and the father of bad pun names Gary Gritter, who later in life will be arrested for being a Neanderphile, and Chuck goes to get her back. Personally I’m surprised they didn’t take this further and add in other musicians in stone form, we’d have “The Red Hot Chili Pebbles” “Rock Stewart” or maybe even “The Rolling Flintstones” I wonder if a caveman of Ronnie Wood would even look any different…

Ok, so intial confusion sets in when you start playing and die a lot. Why? Because you can’t jump on enemies to kill them. Right, within 5 seconds, platforming rule 101 is out the window and it takes a couple of minutes to get used to Chuck Rock’s beer belly attack, let alone realise it’s there if you’re a old school platformer fiend who operates without a manual LIKE A BOSS! And only uses the D-pad and jump button. So you can be expected to go through the games learning curve at a less than steady pace. But don’t worry, Chuck’ll be ok if you pick up food in the form of hot dogs, boar heads, ham and other pre-made food that someones dropped from their trip from Tesco. Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the happy cartoon aesthetic of the design though. It’s like The Land Before Time V combined with early Earthworm Jim. With cavemen. Someone’s clearly taken some time in designing the backgrounds, unlike the poop smearing that was Home Alone 2. It’s a real shame they didn’t take that approach with the main character. They could have done caveman Ziggy Stardust, but instead we get middle aged balding beer belly, permanently dribbling character. That’s not relatable or cool. Then again, how do I know what’s relatable or cool, I’m playing games that are nearly 20 years old that no-one’s heard of…so how about them JLS’ and their dubhop?

Other than that, the platforming is relatively conventional with some quite good ideas, like putting a rock on a crocodiles face to trampoline you to higher platforms, believe me, it makes sense in context, and also being flown on pterodactyls to reach other parts of the level is pretty good, even if it does sink its talons into your face.

Chuck Rock is just a fairly average game. I got bored playing it. The music’s irritating, it’s references are dated (I told someone the Gary Glitter reference and they replied with “HE WAS A MUSICIAN?”) and the gameplay should feel instant, but requires trial and error at the very start of the game and suicide bombing in certain sections. The main character says Ooga Booga at the start of every stage, which I’m convinced is Caveman racism (go up to a caveman and say it, I guarantee you’ll get a punch in the face…oh wait) Now it’s not the worst platformer in the world, it doesn’t do anything particularly badly, apart from the aforementioned, enemy squashing, but at the same time, doesn’t do anything particularly well. And that’s it’s problem, it’s merely so average, it’s ok. Which is a shame, Chuck was supposed to be the face of the company, then they created this girl;

And we all….forgot about Chu…rock…excuse me…

Thanks to @Shiigua on twitter for some of the stone age puns.


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