Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bad Rats: The Rats' Revenge (PC)

The first game I'm checking out in 2013 is physics puzzler Bat Rats! I'm bringing in the new year in style. I don't know much about this, except that it's got a bit of a reputation for being slightly sub-par and that it ended up in my Steam library over Christmas thanks to a generous friend.

Thank you generous friend! (You bastard.)

Whoa, a CGI intro looking like something out of the 90s, featuring suicide bomber rats complete with turbans; this one's a winner right out of the gate! The guy isn't actually exploding or doing anything, so I guess the intro's just showing off the characters. There's a firework rat, a baseball bat rat, a cannon rat, a Robin Hood rat....

... and a concerned looking cat. The poor guy's under attack by rodent daredevils, bandits, terrorists and the army all at once, he's got good reason to be worried.

And it's apparently crashed. I tried writing 'Super Adventures' with mouse pointers, but wasn't coming out very clear so I gave up halfway. Well anyway that was Bat Rats, fun while it lasted but nothing I'll ever want to play again. Next game!

Actually my new year's resolution is to start writing posts that I won't look back on in 12 months time with despair and disgust at my laziness and lack of content, so I'll restart the game and give it another shot.

Okay this is the actual game; I've got this one screen which I can't seem to scroll around, and these items lying in the street nearby I can pick up and place on the level.

The goal is to place the items in a way that gets the ball (circled in green) over to the safe (targeted in yellow), so that it knocks it down onto the cat currently praying for his life on the bottom right. Only by murdering the helpless prisoner can I proceed to the next stage, so I'm basically creating an automatic execution machine. Rats are apparently forbidden by the rodent code to attack the cat directly.

Anyway, my plan here is to build a ramp out of a box and a plank, so that the ball rolls down towards the baseball rat, who'll then bat it up into the safe, sending it toppling over to crush the panicking pussycat. Once all my pieces are in place, I click the 'go' button, which locks the level down and activates the items.

Well that didn't work out. Physics has betrayed me. Fortunately all the pieces are reset when I click the stop button so I can take another turn working from the same set up.

Okay I think my plan's theory is sound, I just need a steeper incline. I can rotate any object freely, but I think I'll need a taller base to keep the plank stable. The barrel should do the job.

Oh, the poor creature. Blood and eyeballs everywhere.

The batter rat has no reaction, he just stands and stares. If he takes any pleasure in this slaughter, he doesn't let it show.

Onto level 2. Bad Cats is... damn I keep accidentally typing that, that one's an entirely different crap game. Bad RATS is so retro it uses passwords instead of a level list and there's no autosave so I have to remember not to quit before saving or writing down the code.

Oh hey that's nice of them, they've given me hints AND a solution plan. I suppose this is because chose to play tutorial mode at the start.

This solution looks more like a football play.

Right, I need to get the blue ball to the cat murdering device again and I think I know what I'm doing here. I'll use the bulldozer rat to push the ball off the edge on the left, where a baseball rat hanging from a balloon can hit it across into the bomb on the right.

Oh damn, the poor bulldozer rat! These creatures are like lemmings, each with their own job to do and zero instinct for self preservation. The sad thing is that the ball missed the bomb, so I'm going to have to adjust the position of the floating baseball rat slightly and try again. Time to bring in another baseball rat.


Still only the one screen, huh?

Now the puzzles are getting trickier, with more to choose from in my box of toys, and I've turned the solutions off. I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to use this vacuum rat to lift the ball up, but I'm not sure what to do when I've grabbed it. I only get one of most the items so I can't just set up another plank underneath for the baseball rat to stand on.

I know, I'll attach the vacuum rat to a balloon and float him over the ball, freeing up to the plank to be used for the baseball rat! Oh fuck it, I'll just go with the simple solution.

Plank of wood and a bat, problem solved. Another helpless feline faces its final fate. Though it's only level five so I suppose it could have a few lives left.

By the way, the game has a really cheesy rock soundtrack, but I can't help but like it anyway. It's.. catchy. This track especially (youtube link) suddenly makes me feel like playing Need for Speed 2 again for some reason.


I took a break from the game then used a password to continue, and now the solution checkbox has vanished. I guess there's only one password for each level, regardless of difficulty, so I've been kicked out of tutorial mode.

But that's fine with me, I wasn't using the solutions anyway and I still have the hints. I'm sure knowing that "Runner can have am use" will be a big help.

Oh damn, this difficulty mode's given me a full box of toys. I'm spoilt for choice. Rocket rat, suicide vest rats, cigarette smoking rat, fat rat... so many options.

Alright, I'll stick a bulldozer rat at the top to push the ball down, put a plank across the gaps at the bottom and then a suicide bomber at the bottom right to blast the ball up into the air. Oh yeah, I should find a place for the runner in the wheel too.


Huh, I ran out of time? But I was so close! I can get the ball right to the end, I just need to fine tune the position of the bomber on the bottom right to send the ball flying up to the chainsaw.

So that's just game over then, kicked back to the main menu without even a retry button? Harsh.

Now I've got to put in the password and set everything up again from scratch before I can start testing iterations on the plan again. Which is a bit annoying.


What the fuck is that vacuum rat with the balloon doing? You can't just float OUTSIDE the level, it's two dimensional you dumb rat! It's supposed to be like an ant farm, with a transparent wall stopping anything from getting out.

I honestly can't believe he just floated out of the level, how does that even happen?

Oh okay fine I'll drop my balloon plan and just put down a bomber again instead. The boring obvious solution. Man I still can't believe I'm playing a cute puzzle game with stereotypical Middle Eastern terrorist suicide bomber rats in it.


What. The. Fuck? Where's the ball going? It missed the bomber entirely and rolled right out of the level!

How does this keep happening? It's an entirely flat game, there is no third dimension for anything to roll out into, at least not as far as the puzzle items are concerned. Blood and eyeballs can fly wherever they want, but that ball had better damn stay in the level, or else I don't stand a chance.


Man, I don't think I like this level. Not one bit.

I've figured out that I can use the archer on the bottom right to shoot the ball towards a bomber on the left, then blast it up towards the floating batter for him to hit it across the top of the screen. But it seems like pure luck whether the ball makes it over the yellow hill and down the inside edge, instead of just stopping and rolling back out. Every time I click 'go', there's a slightly different result, which isn't exactly ideal for a puzzle game based on trial and error, precision, and exact timing.

Took me 38 tries to get that ball to go around and into the exit in the end, clicking the button over and over The damn game's like a pachinko machine.


Oh come on, where's the ball going now? There's nothing wrong with my set up; I wasn't even doing anything clever! The ball was blown to the left by an exhale from the smoking rat, rebounded off the wall, then rolled down a ramp... how is this too much for the game to comprehend?

Well I'm not coming up with any better solutions than this, so I guess I just keep trying it until it works.


Just out of curiosity I thought I'd zoom out a bit and see what the Bat Rats world is like outside the execution rooms, and found myself facing the horrific truth.

There's nothing left. Nothing but a disembodied hand and a floating pair of glasses.

I don't know which side started the war, though it's clear now that by the time the rats had ended it, they'd lost everything. Suddenly the suicide bombers, the elaborate death traps, the vacant emotionless expressions... it all makes sense. These are the traumatised survivors of the end of the world, with no hope and nothing left to do but to execute their prisoners of war in revenge.

After learning the dark secret of the Bad Rats universe, I decided to give the actual level a try, and it didn't take me long to come up with a reasonable solution. Which didn't work.

But I know it's not my fault, as most of the time that ball doesn't get caught in that pit. Usually it makes it all the way down to the bottom floor, where it gets blown across to the right by the smoking rat. It doesn't always make it to the air jet in the bottom right corner, but it often does, and from there it sometimes gets pushed up onto the ledge with the bomber. I just hadn't put him there yet at the time.

I mean isn't an untested plan, I know that if I click play I can get the ball to hit that bomber, but only when the stars are in alignment, the omens foretell it, and the great rodent gods bestow upon me their secret blessing.


Man, I'm starting to think the rats really don't want to kill these cats. Why else would they make it so damn difficult to get the ball anywhere near the execution button? I know overly elaborate death traps are popular with supervillains, but this is just ridiculous.

Plus I can't get that bloody bomber on the inside to stand upright, and it's not the first time I've have problems rotating things in small spaces. I think I'm going to have to stop soon before I go entirely insane.

I love how the microwave's set to 'CAT' though.

You know, Bad Rats isn't really the worst game on this site; not even close. For all of its flaws, most of the time it does a fair job of pretending to be a half decent puzzle game, and I honestly did get some enjoyment out of it. You could argue that the game is based on luck at times, as the same set up will sometimes result in wildly different outcomes, but I prefer to think of it as being based on faith. If you're sure you have the right solution, then sometimes all it takes is the courage to keep clicking the play button twenty times without changing a thing until it works.

But yeah that's still either terrible game design or broken physics, so no gold star for this game. But as crap games go, this isn't so bad. In fact I actually feel like putting it back on and giving it one more try...

Hah, nailed it that time.


  1. This is obviously inspired by the Incredible Machine games. They're more varied and the Rube Goldberg machine idea is better executed. I think TIM3 is the best one, but there may be problems running it on a modern PC...

    1. The incredible machine is available on GOG: http://www.gog.com/gamecard/the_incredible_machine_mega_pack

      That could make for an interesting review, too.

    2. It's definitely a good idea, but Christmas sales have drained my 'cash I can reasonably justify throwing away on video games to keep the internet (and also myself) happy' fund dry, so I'll have to put it on the back burner for now.


    1. You hear that, Bad Rats? Someone out there loves you after all!


Semi-Random Game Box