This week on Super Adventures I'm playing the first (and last) game ever made by Wunderkind, run 'n' gun platformer Ruff 'n' Tumble! From what I can tell it's an Amiga exclusive released only in Europe during the end of the system's lifetime, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's probably fairly obscure to anyone who's never booted up an A500.
I used to play the crap out of this back in the day though. Well, I played the demo mostly, but I was young and that was enough for me... because I couldn't beat the damn thing. If I make it to the end of world 1 today I'll be shocked, and you should be too, but I'll give it my best shot.
Will it start with a forest level? Place your bets now! (PS. the game's also called Ruff 'n' Tumble in the Fantasy Forest).
So Ruff's his actual first name, not a nickname? Wow, poor kid. With a title like Ruff 'n' Tumble you'd expect a cute teddy bear called Tumble to show up as player two, but nope, Ruff's gotta do this on his own.
What is it with Amiga game heroes by the way?
Anyway the game has a story, but it's all safely contained within the manual. Like the platformer classics of old, the game skips showing an intro and gets straight to the gameplay.
HANG ON LITTLE FELLA---!
Just to mock early Amiga games further, the game's also playing music and sound effects at the same time, and making it look easy. Weirdly the gun is absolutely silent, but that just makes it easier to hear the bullets ringing against robot heads. Speaking of music, the soundtrack's by Fire & Ice and Uridium 2 composer Jason Page and it somehow manages to sound exactly as the game looks (ie. shiny, metal and very 1994): Fantasy Forest theme YouTube link
Oh I found a plasma gun power up for my submachine gun by the way. Ruff and Judge Dredd have a number of things in common, one of which is that they carry a gun that fires a variety of fun projectiles. It's not a case of picking the right weapon for the job though, as I'm stuck with this until either the green power meter at the top runs down, or I collect a different power up.
When I've got a weapon power up active like this the power bar basically functions as a timer, as the game loves to tempt me to rush ahead into danger. Seems that if I kill enough enemies in a row a (P) orb may appear to give me more happy awesome weapon time, but the catch is that I have run over to where the enemies are spawning to grab it before it disappears.
Global Gladiators or Turrican.
Though saying that, level 1 is actually is just a straight run to the right and I've already gotten the exit open. It'd behove me though to jump over and grab that max hit points extension first though.
These heli-wasp drones are a real bastard as they don't need enemy generators to spawn and they can come from anywhere. They only appear when they're scripted to, they don't just pour in infinitely, but I can never be sure I'm safe.
I know you're dying to know what I found on the other side of the forcefield, but to be honest there wasn't much besides a few pick-ups. I probably had to get it open though to reach my marble quota.
You can see here how where I'm standing has a big impact on what I end up hitting, as Ruff is a 2D platformer hero and is therefore incapable of tilting his aim down just a couple of degrees when he's shooting over a robot's head. Still, I can aim upwards 45 degrees at least, which is handy for taking out incoming robot wasps and their metallic nests (as long as I'm willing to stand perfectly still while I do it).
To be fair it's not entirely my fault as it's Amiga game, meaning that the controller comes with four directions and one button. So to jump I have to let go of the fire button first, else he'll just aim upwards. Same thing if I want to duck.
These little walking mines are a pain in the ass by the way as I have to walk over and trigger their proximity detector before they become killable, and my ability to react to incoming shrapnel is laughable.
Hey this gives me an excuse to talk about how my standard submachine gun works! When I'm using my regular weapon I've got unlimited time and infinite ammo, but the firing rate slows down as the gun power runs out until it's only putting out a pitiful spray of bullets. Submachine gun power will refill if I let go, I don't need (P)s, but putting bullets into enemies slows them down so it's in my interest not to let go.
Also moving out of the way would usually be smart, but I was fortunate enough to grab something that looked like it might be a shield power up earlier so I figured I might as well use it while it lasts. Shame it doesn't play a catchy invulnerability jingle, that always helps.
One thing I can't complain about is the camera, mostly because I haven't had reason to pay any attention to it. 9 times out of 10 I can always see what I need to see. I suppose it'd be nice if it could slide the screen over when I press the trigger to show what I'm firing at, or let me drag the camera down when I duck, but it's not been something bothering me.
Wait, there's a Gatling turret down there? Man I hate these things. They pop open when you get close so you have to do hit and run attacks to whittle down their health without getting shot. Either that or find a better weapon type.
It seems to me like the trick to this game is to find the right place to stand where you can shoot things without them shooting you. Ruff's got pretty typical jumping mechanics so he can get around just fine, but he has to stop to aim and that leaves him vulnerable.
I love the pick-ups in this, they’re proper random objects that have no business being in a cave. Most platformers in the 90s tried to stay on theme, but this just throwing anything in, it's awesome. I'm hoping if I keep playing I'll eventually find some floppy disks, maybe even a couple of joysticks.
Getting Ruff killed knocks off all my bonus heart containers, so now I'm back down to the standard three, (putting me two hits closer to my next major fuck up). But at least the last checkpoint is close to where I left off and all the marbles I've collected so far have stayed collected.
Well there goes hit point #1 on my second life. It’s all going to crap for me now since I got him killed.
A FEW SECONDS LATER.
The dumb thing is that I've no reason to be up here yet as the exit’s still locked shut. I'll have to jump off and see what's underneath (hopefully not spikes).
Oh, here's another problem with the game. Notice how my gun fires at a 45° angle? Now redirect your gaze to the 27° angle of the hill (and every other hill in every other screenshot). It means I have to get close enough to stare right down their black hollow eye sockets before my bullets will connect.
Now I can land on the flame thrower power up, swing around, and blast the turret from behind before it opens up.
I guess half a pixel wasn't good enough. That's game over, though if I want I can restart from the beginning of the world, which in this case is also the beginning of the game.
Well it's a difficult game, so I wasn't expecting to make it very far anyway. I'll give it another few tries but like I said earlier I'll be surprised if I can even reach the first boss.
LATER, ON LEVEL 1-4 AGAIN.
Well at least now I know that the spikes are instant death. That's definitely going to factor in to my future decisions regarding spike pits. I still have ambitions to see the first boss and that's not going to happen if I keep throwing all my lives away like this.
I'd say it's a shame I have to blow the thing up but we both know that's not going to happen, I'm losing two hearts for every two bars of health I strip off him. Still, it's a honour and a privilege to get wrecked by something so damn pretty.
What the fuck? I beat the owl boss?
HOLY SHIT I BEAT THE OWL BOSS! I've never beaten the owl boss before! It wasn't through skill though, I just brought enough lives to burn through... though I think I could've probably avoided taking damage if I'd ducked into the left corner whenever it flew over and got all shooty.
Those coins are all going to disappear before I get over there aren't they? Yup I'm an idiot.
WORLD #2: ROCKS AND STUFF.
I thinking this is a good place to turn the game off as I've gotten further than I ever expected to get, achieved more than I ever expected to achieve and blown up more robot owls than I ever expected to blow up. Hang on though, speaking of blowing things up, I just realised there's something I still haven't got a screenshot of yet...
I realise that most of my GIFs so far are of me standing still and shooting robots, but there's plenty of platforming I promise! I can even run while I gun, though I usually don't.
I should probably just leave the thing alone and dodge its mines, but it'd be nice to have room to run away from the torpedoes. I'm down to my last hit point so I need to play cautiously, and it's not like the game has a time limit.
Hang on, it mentions something about the pass code system in the manual:
"codes allow you to play the next world only"What?
"Remember: The only way to complete Ruff 'n' Tumble is to play all the way through from the beginning. So get that joystick pumping!"WHAT?
Despite being bastard hard at times, Ruff 'n' Tumble is easily one of the finest Amiga platformers I have ever played. In fact out of all the 'n' games released in the mid 90s, like Crash 'n' Burn, Wiz 'n' Liz and Bubba 'n' Stix, this is probably my favourite of them! Though I think they could've chosen a better title, like Young Duke Nukem Chronicles for instance.
The graphics are fantastic for the system and more importantly they're clear and instantly readable. But more importantly they're fantastic. The gameplay is definitely competent and it's well designed, but the visuals are probably the selling point on this one and if you tend to like Amiga game music you'll likely like the soundtrack too.
It's definitely not a perfect game though. For one thing the one button controls are always waiting to trip you up even when you think you've gotten the hang of it. Jumping when you want to aim or aiming when you want to jump can get frustrating when the gameplay's hard enough as it is. Plus the trouble with the game is that a lot of the enemies have to be worn down, there's a lot of enemies to get through and the levels are a bit on the lengthy side for what it is. I was starting to get a bit sick of it all by stage 2-2 and you can't just quit and carry on later because the pass codes are only for practice! Shorter stages, more levels and a world map is what I would've preferred.
But if you like 16-bit platformers where you shoot things, you'll probably want to have a go of this at some point.