|Platform(s)||Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Mobile phone, Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch|
City Connection[a] is a 1985 platform arcade game developed and published by Jaleco. It was released in North America by Kitkorp as Cruisin'. The player controls Clarice in her Honda City hatchback and must drive over elevating roads to paint them. Clarice is constantly under pursuit by police cars, which she can take out by launching oil cans at them, temporarily stunning them, and then ramming into them with her car. Jaleco was inspired by maze chase action titles like Pac-Man (1980) and Crush Roller (1981) while designing the game.
City Connection was ported to several platforms, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In Japan, the game has maintained a loyal following, with the NES version being seen as a classic for the platform. It has since been re-released through several Jaleco game collections and services such as the Wii Virtual Console. These versions attracted more mixed responses in North America, with critics disliking its simplicity, lack of replay value, and poor controls. Some felt it possessed a cute aesthetic and unique concept, and was entertaining to play. Jaleco produced a sequel named City Connection Rocket for Japanese mobile phones in 2004. The game is credited for having one of the first female protagonists in a console game.
In City Connection, the player controls Clarice, a blue-haired teen driving an orange Honda City hatchback, as she travels around the world in the quest of finding herself the perfect man. Clarice traverses through twelve side-scrolling stages that take place within famous locations around the world, including New York, London, and Japan. To clear these levels, the player must drive over each of the elevated highways to change their color from white to green. The car can jump over large gaps to reach higher sections of the stage.
Clarice is constantly being pursued by police cars that follow her around the stage, and must also avoid flag-waving cats that block her from moving past them. Clarice can collect and launch oil cans at police cars and traffic vehicles to temporarily stun them; ramming into them while stunned will knock them off the stage. Cats are invulnerable to oil cans, and cannot be killed by any means. If the player remains on the same stage for an extended period of time, spikes extrude from the ground and instantly kills them. On occasion, a red-colored balloon may appear in the stage, and collecting three of these warps the player to a new area and grants them bonus points.
Development and release
City Connection was developed by Jaleco and released in Japanese arcades in July 1985. In North America, the game was licensed to Kitkorp and published as Cruisin'. The song used when Clarice hits one of the flag-waving cats is "Flohwalzer", known in Japan as "Neko Funjatta" (lit. "I Stepped on the Cat"), while another stage features a remix of the song "Highway Star" by Deep Purple. City Connection is credited as being one of the first to use new music tracks for each stage as opposed to recycling one song. The car the player controls throughout the game is a Honda City hatchback, which is believed to be the source for the game's title. Jaleco based the game's concept on Namco's Pac-Man (1980) and Alpha Denshi's Crush Roller (1981).
City Connection was ported to several consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), ZX Spectrum, and MSX. The NES version, which was Jaleco's first release for the system in North America, replaces Clarice with an unnamed male protagonist, alongside other minor differences. The Japanese Family Computer (Famicom) version is included in the compilations Jaleco Collection Vol. 1 (2003) for PlayStation and JaJaMaru Jr. Denshoki Jaleco Memorial (2004) for Game Boy Advance. Both the NES and Famicom versions were digitally re-released for the Wii Virtual Console in 2008, and the 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console in 2013. A version for Japanese cellular phones was published in 2002 through i-Mode devices. Mediakite produced a port of the arcade game for Windows in 2003, while Jaleco produced a remake titled City Connection DX for mobile phones in Japan. Hamster Corporation released a digital version of the game under their Arcade Archives series for the PlayStation 4 in 2014, and for the Nintendo Switch in 2018. The NES version is also available through the Nintendo Switch Online service.
City Connection has maintained a loyal following in Japan, where it became one of Jaleco's most successful and beloved games. The NES version, in particular, is viewed as a classic title on the system for its accurate portrayal of the arcade original. In 2003, Yuge listed it as being among the console's greatest games, through its unique gameplay, colorful visuals, and memorable soundtrack. The magazine staff described it as being "a game that fulfills the dreams of children who want to play arcade games".
The NES version and its digital re-releases received mixed reviews in North America, by comparison. Critics focused largely on its overall simplicity and poor controls. A reviewer for Computer Entertainment US felt that the game was hindered by its lack of replay value for older players. IGN and Nintendo Life reviewers Lucas M. Thomas and Marcel van Duyn respectively both believed the game didn't age well and was too simplistic; Duyn described it as being "still well below par" compared to other NES ports of classic arcade games. Agreeing with them was Nintendo Life's Steve Bowling (now part of Good Vibes Gaming with Ashton Paulsen (Rob Paulsen's Son, and Derrick Bitner), who claimed the Wii U version was a shallow conversion of an arcade game he considered "already lost to the ages", specifically for its ill-conceived controls.
Critics felt City Connection, in light of its flaws, possessed a cute aesthetic and unique gameplay. Computer Entertainer US believed its cute visual style would appeal to younger players and its challenge to older ones, and said what little the game had to offer was enjoyable. Christopher Michael of AllGame likened its gameplay to Pac-Man and similar maze-chase arcade games from the era, writing that its graphics and gameplay made it a must-play for the platform. Reviewing for Eurogamer, Dan Whitehead compared its gameplay to Q*Bert and its horizontal-scrolling to Defender, and made for an addictive game that justified its price tag. Thomas and Duyn agreed that City Connection's gameplay was simplistic and enjoyable, though constrained by its controls and high difficulty.
Clarice is credited as being among the first female protagonists in a console game. She appears as a playable character in the PlayStation game GUNbare! Game Tengoku (1998), misspelled as "Claris" and bearing little resemblance to her original design, and in the high-definition remaster The Game Paradise Crusin' Mix (2018) as downloadable content.
In 2004, Jaleco released a sequel named City Connection Rocket for Japanese mobile phones through i-Mode. The game places Clarice in the role of a spy working for a secret organization to capture criminal leaders from around the world. Rather than painting sections of road, Clarice must now collect briefcases placed in specific areas in each stage while avoiding police cars and other types of enemies. Rocket was bundled with City Connection DX for a 2015 re-release on the PlayStation Vita under Hamster's Appli-Archives series, available through the PlayStation Mobile service. PlayStation Mobile closed in September 2015, delisting the game from the PlayStation Store and other supported devices.
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