The iPad is not a Dreamcast, but it plays Chu Chu Rocket. It runs an upcoming port of the classic well, Sega proved when they brought it to New York this week.
Chu Chu Rocket is one of those classics I never played. A favorite of fans of Sega's final gaming console, the Dreamcast, it is a frantic puzzle game enjoyed solo or against friends. The playing field is a grid on which cartoon mice and cats scurry. The player needs to lay path-defining arrows on the grid to get the mice — and not the cats — into a goal. In multiplayer the player wants to sends cats and no mice to the other player's goal. This all happens briskly. On the iPhone and iPad this all happens by touch.
Above: Footage of the original Dreamcast version of Chu Chu Rocket, not this month's visually-similar iPad update
The iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone versions of Chu Chu Rocket launch later this month and are, a Sega rep told me as I played, faithful ports of the original game's mode than 140 puzzles and 25 challenges. The presentation has changed and the controls are new but the content is not.
To play the game on an iMachine, the gamer swipes their finger on the grid square where they want to draw an arrow, in the direction they want it drawn. Simple. Perfect.
The game can be played over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection, though buyer beware how well that works. The venue where I played the game had a weak Wi-Fi signal which, Sega people said, was why the lag during a head-to-head match was so bad that they only let me be a host, not a guest. Host systems had no lag. Hopefully this was only the fault of that weak signal.
The iPad version I played also supports single-system multiplayer. Up to four players can compete on one grid thanks to the system's support for lots of simultaneous taps and swipes.
Chu Chu Rocket is new to me, but for gamers who have played through all of this content on the Dreamcast already, there is hope of something new. Sega reps said they would like to offer new levels via free and paid downloadable content.
The game controlled superbly on the iPad, as if it was conceived for the system. It could prove to be one of the rare fantastic iPad games, good progress for a young machine lacking top titles.