Release Date: 1983
Genre: Arcade – Maze
Alternate Title: N/A
Model #: N/A
Programmer: Mike Schwartz
This is quite possibly the first (and only) example of a video game being based on a television commercial.
You take control of Chuckie the Dog as he gets to live out every 1980’s dog’s dream and chase the chuck wagon. Unlike the TV dog however, it’s relatively easy for Chuckie to catch it.
Rather than start out in the family living room like his TV counterpart, Chuckie begins his quest in the middle of a maze that must be completed in under sixty seconds (thirty if playing on the difficult setting). There are four different stages that consist of mazes that were deemed too easy for the back of kids menus. In fact, the only challenge at all comes from the incredibly narrow entryways that will cause Chuckie to get hung up if he doesn’t hit it just right.
Standing between him and the chuck wagon is the world’s lousiest dog catcher and some random haunted items that float across the screen. The haunted item can be something that resembles a meatball, a severed cat head, a bone, or a rival dog. If it comes into contact with Chuckie he will be frozen for a few seconds, which usually isn’t a big deal unless the trajectory of the item causes it to hit him multiple times, resetting the freeze counter with every hit. This isn’t a huge deal unless the dog catcher is nearby, which is highly unlikely due to him being absolutely terrible at his job.
Apparently good help is hard to find, because there really isn’t any other way to explain how this guy got the job. Instead of actively pursuing Chuckie, the dog catcher randomly moves around the maze. Often times he will pace back and forth down a single corridor, giving the chuck wagon pursuing pooch free reign over the maze. The only time the dog catcher becomes dangerous is when he decides to patrol the lone pathway to the exit.
When you successfully complete the maze you are taken to a bonus level. A bowl of dog food descends from the heavens at a rapid pace, forcing you to press the button when it is parallel to Chuckie. If you hit it just right, you have a happily fed puppy. If you don’t, Chuckie watches helplessly as his dinner falls to the abyss below.
If you want to see a prime example of just how insane the early 1980’s video game landscape was (i.e. a mail order game from a dog food company based on one of its commercials) then you should check this out. If you are looking for a fun game, you should look elsewhere.
More in the Atari 2600 Encyclopedia on great games like this! Plus subscribe to Old School Gamer for FREE by clicking here!