One of the most unique racing games you will ever come across, Chair Chaser is an intriguing freeware game from a team of students at Konami's computer gaming school in Japan's Osaka (which is Japan's equivalent of Digipen, except it has been around for much longer and is funded by a major game company). The game won the 4th CESA Award in 2002, and deservedly so. (CESA is short for the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association - Japan's equivalent of the IDSA in the US).
If you think you have seen everything there is to see in racing games, Chair Chaser will change your mind. Instead of racing expensive race cars, you race... office chairs. That's right: Chair Chaser brings to life one of the clandestine office sports that many people participate behind their bosses' backs. The game even has a wacky explanation of why you are doing this: a company has decided to appoint as its next president the winner of chair racing. Your goal, therefore, is to win all the races held on various office floors.
You first choose the character you want to play - ranging from a nerdy-looking guy, to a weird green penguin (how a penguin could manage a company I have no idea - but then again, this is the company that decided to pick its president from a wacky sport). Each character has different strengths and weaknesses. Once you are done, you are whisked off to the actual race - the maze-like corridors in an office. Like other racers, you are seated astride an office chair, relying only on your two legs and some devious tactics.
The game's graphics is not very detailed, but more than adequate and appropriately wacky. The actual gameplay is quite fun: you basically move the chair as quickly as possible by paddling with your legs, but you can also drop bombs and other obstacles to slow the other opponents down. Unfortunately, I found the game far too easy to merit a Top Dog tag, and there are some graphics glitches that mar the experience. The tracks are also too similar to each other, and once the novelty wears off, there is not much point to play the game again. But still, if you are looking for a very unique racing experience, you can't go far wrong with Chair Chaser. It is a pretty big download (90MB+), and it's all in Japanese, but you don't really need to understand the text, and the novelty is worth it. Here's hoping that some programmer would come along to take this wonderful concept to new heights - perhaps it won't be long until we see a more varied and more challenging version of this neat little underdog :) Reviewed by: Underdogs