Ninja Rabbits review

Happy Easter! With all the painted eggs and rabbits and whatnot. So, instead of writing an article about Retro Easter Eggs (too much work and I’m lazy as hell), I’ve decided to just review a game with rabbits in it. And unfortunately, the first game with anthropomorphic rabbits that came to my mind is Ninja Rabbits.

Ninja Rabbits is an action game made by Microvalue and originally released in 1991 for Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64. It was re-released the following year for DOS.

And yes, this game was made to capitalize off TMNT’s fame back then. And no, it also has nothing to do with Usagi Yojimbo, an anthropomorphic rabbit SAMURAI.

But let’s look at the cover, shall we?

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It looks like they never saw an anthropomorphic rabbit with a karate gi before.

As one can see, the cover shows our titular “ninja” rabbit doing a weird Karate Kid pose and scaring a couple of punks, in the middle of a highway or bridge. Kind of uninspired, but it conveys well what the game is about.

Time to hop to this genin, shall we? I recommend turning off the sound, though:

For those brave enough to hear the entirety of the title theme, I apologize for the damage suffered to your ears. Don’t ask me what that aural atrocity was, but this is perhaps the first time I’m happy for a game NOT having any more music. The title screen might be the only good screen in the entire game, graphically speaking.

According to the game manual (a booklet actually), there was a toxic leak from a chemical plant that turns humans and other anthropomorphic beings into aggressive beasts, which prompts our protagonist to face them and travel to the plant to shut down the leakage. For that, he needs to travel from his home forest to the city and finally to the plant itself, facing all kinds of humans, other anthropomorphic animals, birds, etc.

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The game is only 3 levels long: the countryside (with good animations in the background), the city (full of punks, sewers and god-awful birds that will kill you in an instance if you’re not careful) and the chemical plant (with robots and some platforming).

You start with 3 lives and a carrot that serves as a life bar, which if fully depleted, you’ll lose a life. But don’t worry, there are some carrots distributed throughout the levels, which will grant extra lives.

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Underground versus other ninja… animals.

You control the protagonist with the arrow keys (if not using a joystick) and the space-bar for hitting your enemies with your stick. To perform other attacks, you need to combine the space-bar with any other arrow key. The stick attack is the most powerful attack but also the slowest one.

And talking about speed, our protagonist might be a rabbit but he sure moves like a turtle. He’s incomprehensibly slow compared with the rest of the enemies. You need to properly time your attacks or you’ll die fast! I don’t know if the controls are unresponsive, if the attacks use too many sprites or if the rabbit was programmed to be slower than the rest. Anyway, it makes the game almost unplayable.

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Those birds overhead are the worst enemies in the entire game!

The game has very few sounds, but they serve their purpose, I suppose.

But the worst part for me is that the game not only lacks boss fights at the end of each level, but after finishing the last level, the game puts you right back at the start of the first level without any rhyme or reason. Not even a congratulations text or whatever!

With just 3 levels, you’ll finish the game in no time, even with the hard difficulty. In fact, this feels more like a demo than a proper game. It’s painfully obvious that this game was made with as little effort as possible.

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I assure you. You won’t find any turtles down here.

The Amiga version is slightly better, with a proper title theme and a difficulty select screen, which is absent in the DOS version.

In other words, not only I don’t recommend this game (not even to furries) but I strongly tell you to avoid it. It’s without a doubt, one of the worst games I ever played! AND SOMEHOW IT HAS A SEQUEL! HOW?! WHY?!

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here, experience this atrocity in your own browser.

So I apologize for this being my Easter present to you. To make up for it, next time, we’ll take a look at a much better game! Another true cult classic, I promise.

Until then, leave your comments below and have a happy Easter and keep on playing (just not this game).

Alley Cat for DOS review

Hello and welcome to Retro Freak Reviews, where we take a look at PC games from the 80s and 90s and today we’re going to take a look at mine and several people’s 1st PC game: Alley Cat for DOS.

Alley Cat was created in 1983 by Bill Williams, based on a concept by John D. Harris and originally published by Synapse Software for the Atari 8-bit computers and one year later published by IBM for the MS-DOS.

But before taking a look at the game, let’s take a look at the box art. Unfortunately, my version of the game came in a simple floppy disk containing several games, which was offered to me when I got my very 1st PC. So instead, let’s look at the cover of the Atari version a friend of mine send me:

Alley Cat - Insert Front + Back Cover [side A].jpgAs one can see, this cover shows what the game is about: a lonely black cat against the injustices of modern society. Actually, it’s just a collection of mini-games. And this cat must be the most hated animal around, look at the faces of the people in the windows! Come on, the poor cat is hanging in there for his life! Have some sympathy!

And I just love the title screen and its tune. Check it out!

Even in a PC speaker, this little tune is great! And the title screen is quite nice, with the top score and everything as graffiti. Better than having the title of the game over a black background.

Aaaaaand speaking about black backgrounds, there’s the menu screen. It is pretty basic, with the joystick config and the difficulty levels, which I have to admit, naming them after cat names is just adorable.

According to the game description, you control a black cat named Fred, who has to climb trash cans, then a fence, and then hang on clotheslines with mice while avoiding the dog and objects thrown through the windows when open. And your objective is to get inside one of the windows.

In each window there’s one of the several mini-games waiting for you.

My favourite ones are the giant cheese room and the one with the fish-bowl. I mean, look at the size of that cheese! And you have to get the mice that live inside it! Holy Cheddar, Batman!

The other mini-games are also pretty good, especially the one with a room full of dogs, in which the cat has to eat all the food in the bowls WITHOUT waking the dogs. Easier said than done.

And after winning 1 of these mini-games, you end back in the alley, but now, each window that opens; it shows a white female cat calling you out.

So again you climb on the trash cans, the fence and the clotheslines to enter 1 of the opening windows, but this time you enter the most pink and hearty thing I ever seen in my life. Several rows of hearts surrounded by Cupids shooting arrows. Man, even Liberace would say to take it down a notch!

The objective here is to reach the top kitten while avoiding the other cats, the arrows and the broken hearts. Fortunately, you can use the present to offer to 1 of the cats on your path. And if you fall through the bottom row, the white kitten apparently insults you and end up back in the alley. But if you get to the top cat, they kiss and somehow it causes an explosion of hearts in your computer screen. Not even a St. Valentine’s parade has these many hearts!

And then you go back to the alley, but notice how the setup of the alley changed and you also have gained an extra life. This means you have restarted the game but in a higher difficulty level.

This is known as an arcade style gaming, where you play until all your lives run out. This game has around 30 difficulty levels and basically continues indefinitely until you reach game over. These types of games basically have no ending. Depending how good you are, you can play to your heart’s content.

So, does this game aged well or not? Graphically speaking, although the sprites and the animations are ok, the CGA graphics didn’t age well.

The gameplay is still pretty solid and believe it or not, this game was programmed to analyse your computer’s speed and run accordingly. Yes, you can run this game in a Pentium PC without using any CPU slowing program. Now that’s impressive!

There was even a fan made sequel called Alley Cat 2, which is more or less the original game but with better graphics, more colours and even some new mini-games, but not as well animated.

But back to the original game: Alley Cat is a fun little game, easy to get into and just perfect if you want to kill 1 or 2 minutes of your time, but don’t want to play anything more complex.

Does this game deserve a remake? Yes! It might be a bit challenging for casual players, but an easier remake for smartphones would be perfect! There are a few remake projects around the internet, but nothing definitive yet.

And luckily, you can try it in the Internet Archive.

And that was my 1st Retro Freak Review. How do you think it was? If you liked it, share it and leave your comments below or even a suggestion for future reviews.

Well, see you guys around and remember to keep on playing!