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Old 10-17-2011, 12:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Retronauts: Swept Under the Rug

You love Dig Dug, right? Sure you do' just about everybody does (and the few who don't are dirty, dirty Mr. Do! fans). Well, what if we took a few creative liberties with the game? Let's say we took out the chubby excavator and popped in a buggy-eyed vacuum cleaner instead. Now let's replace the eighty feet of topsoil with a dirty living room floor, and trade those inflatable dragons and, uh, whatever Pookas are supposed to be with animated hairballs. (Er, not those animated hairballs.) Next, we'll just take out that bouncy soundtrack and replace it with the most annoying noises you've heard in your life, and' hey, where'd you go?

It's a hard sell, but it's exactly what you get from Rugrats. Not to be confused with the dozens of games starring a potato-headed toddler and his friends, Rugrats is likely to go down in history as one of history's most American-proof video games. If adding a touch of domestic drudgery to Dig Dug wasn't off-putting enough, the game was first launched in the United States with the title Wiping, making it a magnet for mockery before anyone even played it. Engrish names can often be charmingly absurd (see also Donkey Kong), but in this case, Nichibutsu really should have coughed up the cash for some focus testers. You give 'em twenty bucks and a cookie, and they tell you that you're about to make a million dollar mistake. It's a smart investment.

Ah, but as the bard once said, a rose by any other name still stinks! Rugrats is easier than Wiping, showing you all the bonus items rather than burying this treasure under a mountain of household dirt, but beyond that, it's the same game. As mentioned earlier, it's also disconcertingly similar to Dig Dug. Just like in Namco's game, you've got to clear the screen of monsters, which go from placid to bloodthirsty in ten seconds. There are subtle differences, though. Instead of pumping up the creeps with an air hose, you stun them with bubbles and suck them into your roving Roomba. Rather than fire-breathing Fygars, you get dust devils armed with spear-tipped springs. Finally, and here's where the game gets its less embarrassing name, there are rugs scattered around the room instead of rocks. Touch the carpet and it rolls up the critters behind you' and possibly you as well, if you stick around to watch the carnage.

It's a cute gimmick. It doesn't give you many strategic options, or the visceral, fist-pumping satisfaction of crushing your foes with a boulder, but it fits the theme. However, it's much harder to make excuses for the graphics, full of clashing, radioactive colors, and the music, frequently interrupted by the sound you might hear while driving a Sherman tank over Huey, Dewey, and Louie. It's also a little odd that a game this uninspired came from Nichibutsu. This was the same company that gave us Crazy Climber and the mighty morphin' spacecraft in Terra Cresta, right? Apparently the guy with all the good ideas took a vacation the week Rugrats was being designed.



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Old 10-17-2011, 12:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Swept Under the Rug

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