The Snake Becomes The Key

Retro Gaming Humour

International Ninja Rabbits: Rabbits in a half-assed game, rabbit power!

Words:Stuart Hunt

What is it that the video-game industry has against ninjas, particularly 8-bit ones? I’m slowly realising that if an Amstrad game has the word ‘ninja’ in its title then it must be avoided like shampoo soaked contact lenses. We’ve reviewed two ninja ‘themed’ games so far on this blog: BMX NINJA and NINJA SCOOTER SIMULATOR. Both of these titles rolled with the ridiculous ninja-extreme-sports hook. However, reality sussed out that classifying these games as ‘extreme’ was like saying that a tattoo of Gene Simmons on your tongue is both tasteful and painless.

OK, so we can pretty much guess what happened here. Seeing those ‘heroes in a half shell’ and the impact they were having on the eyes and vocabulary on impressionable young minds, Microvalue felt they could achieve a similar success story. They substituted four dynamic, pizza-loving, sewer-surfing turtles, with one lethargic, carrot-chomping, hutch-dwelling rabbit and this was the less than remarkable result.

Perhaps so as not to be sued for false advertising, the creators of International Ninja Rabbits were meticulous in making sure that every word in its clusterfuck title earned the right to be there. It’s ‘international’ in that you traipse around the world. Beginning in China, the game sends you jetting across to America before taking the convoluted, fuck the planet, flight back to Japan. Cultural stereotypes proudly greet you in the airports. Touching down on American soil you’re met by graffiti-strewn walls and two buildings on loop that constantly change their signage from ‘Movie’ to ‘Food’, and the oriental-themed levels are littered with dojos and trees, giving the impression that everyone in Japan is either a karate expert or a tree surgeon. However the impact of these stereotypes is somewhat deafened by an odd yellow haze which swathes the game’s graphics. This means that if you’re more than two feet away from your monitor every stage looks like it’s taking place on the toilet floor of a nightclub, with a white bunny sloshing around like it has just contracted myxomatosis.

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Aquamarine isn’t even an official karate belt!

The ‘ninja’ aspect in the game comes from the fact that your character is wearing a baggy pair of bright white pyjamas (don’t ninjas usually wear tight black suits for concealment and agility?) He’s also wearing a headband to tie up his big floppy ears – useful hearing devices which would otherwise hinder his ability to blend into any environment other than a rabbit hutch or the Playboy mansion.

The controls and action in this game are painful – painful to watch and painful to execute. You’re given three measly moves, yet forty minutes to decide which one you want to use against an enemy coming at you with what can only be described as crippling arthritis. They waddle towards you with their robotic, two-animation movements and invoke about as much immediacy into the game as pressing the pause button in slow motion. Enemies range from bloodhounds with their cubes out, turtles that transform into crocodiles when they get hit and creatures that look like nothing your eyes have seen, or will ever see again. They are God’s creations however, so we must love them all – even if we’re eventually projecting a pixelated paw into their freaky faces.

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Wow a rabbit fighting a Rabbi, how feckin awesome is that?

To dispose of these circus freaks requires the infuriating method of pushing the joystick in a direction while simultaneously hitting the fire button. Forward, while batting fire, results in the bunny doing a kick which fells most enemies with two goes. To punch is back and fire, and usually results in your character walking backwards to the start of the level before an actual hit is achieved. Salt adding, most of the enemies will absorb a colossal six punches before they work out they’ve been hit and fairly collapse, so only the foolish Shinobi will ever opt for this ridiculous attack method. As for the jump kick, with such teeth grating collision detection, trying to land an ice-cube onto the surface of the sun while holding back an army of mountain gorillas would probably prove less taxing.

If you’re ever find yourself hankering for a side scrolling kick-em-up with weird visuals and strange premise, that looks suspiciously like it’s been caked in rabbits piss, here’s £2.99 well spent I reckon.

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August 2, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments