Monday, 23 November 2015

Ruff 'n' Tumble (Amiga)

Ruff 'n' Tumble title screen
Developer:Wunderkind|Release Date:1994|Systems:Amiga

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).



Oh it starts with a sinister floating head.

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?

They range from creepy to terrifying. It seems that Amiga game artists just couldn't help but put in as much shading as possible, no matter how cartoony the design. Ruff's eyes are so shiny and blue that I feel like plucking them out and seeing what I can get for them at a jewellers.

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.

Or straight to the loading anyway.

HANG ON LITTLE FELLA---!

Look at those graphics! Just look at them! The game came out near the end of the Amiga 500's lifespan and it's hard to believe that a machine that predates the Sega Mega Drive is able to put out visuals like these (mostly because a lot of the system's games look like ass). Platformer forest levels rarely look so beautiful.

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

You can see the biggest flaw in the visuals here as I edge forwards: there's no parallax scrolling. You can also see a Gauntlet-style monster generator pumping out shiny metal foes until its power runs out. The game really loves these generators and they're all over the place

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.

If I remember right the plot is basically 'robots have stolen Ruff's marbles and now he has to get them all back', so I have to hunt for no less than three sets of coloured marbles on every stage before it'll let me out. You wouldn't confuse the game with a straightforward run and gun like Contra or Metal Slug, it's more sprawling like 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.


LEVEL 1-2.


Wasps! Waaaaaaaaasps!

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.

Wow I forgot the game had locked doors. This first barrier's not a huge test of my memory though, seeing as the blue key's just above it on the same screen.

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.

Checkpoint! Also tiny wasp!

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).

Wow, nice reflexes there.

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.

Monster generators man....

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.

Damn... I am so so glad I aimed upwards just then instead of jumping into him. I gotta get Ruff firing first to lock him to the spot before aiming, it's awkward. Oh, the robot only died so quickly because I put a few bullets into him earlier. I'm shocked this actually worked to be honest.

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.


LEVEL 1-3.


That's probably the shiniest looking screw jump pad I've ever seen. I’ve no idea where that red light's coming from, it doesn't seem to be shining on the enemies or that Gatling turret on the right, but it looks great so I don’t care.

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.

Or I suppose I could just stand here in perfect safety.

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.

Awesome, an extra life... I hope. It could just be a shrunken severed head discarded under a pile of fruit and sweets. I haven't actually lost a life yet, due to the full set of five hit points containers I've collected, but I'll never say no to a 1UP.

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.

Oh crap, that was a bit of a tactical error there. I am really really bad at reacting to incoming fire (though I really should've reacted to seeing the robot lean down to shoot his plasma blunderbuss).

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.

Whoa, surprise saw blade to the crotch! Where the fuck did that come from? That thing really did just pop up out of the floor to steal my hit point from me as I was minding my own business.

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.


I... have no excuse for that, my first death must have totally thrown me off my game. Now I'm two lives down on the same level.

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).

Yeah, this flame thrower will definitely do. I'll be holding onto this for the 20 seconds it lasts for sure! The trouble with the high damage weapons though, is that the machine gun has to be low damage by comparison, so for most of the game I have to sit and chip away at enemy armour.

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.


LEVEL 1-4.


Damn, I just cleared that Gatling turret by half a pixel! I'm on my last heart on my final life so if I'd screwed that up I'd be learning whether the game has continues right about now.

Now I can land on the flame thrower power up, swing around, and blast the turret from behind before it opens up.

What the fuck...

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.


I'll just be sitting here holding the fire button down then shall I?

Oops. I was doing really well on this run too.

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.


BOSS FIGHT!


Holy shit, look at that bronze robot owl! That's the most impressive pixel owl I've ever seen outside of a Psygnosis game!

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.

Whu?

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.


So world 2 is a cave level huh? Not exactly a shockingly original concept, but these have to be some of the prettiest looking rocks I've ever seen in a platformer.

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...

There you go! There's a proper rocket launcher for you.

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.


SOON.


Wow, it turns out that sometimes you shoot things underwater as well! I had no idea this had swimming in it.

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.


BUT THEN...


I was so focused on dodging the mines and torpedoes when I should've been watching the fish!

Still, I had a good run, better than expected, and the level code means I never have to play world 1 again! I can fight my way through the game world by world, by surviving just long enough to get that next password as a new starting point for next time.

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?


CONCLUSION

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.


Super Adventures will return with some other game next week, but you can read all the comments about Ruff 'n' Tumble right now! Unless there aren't any yet, then perhaps consider leaving one for someone else to read. It's the fun way to share opinions and demonstrate that you exist!

8 comments:

  1. I love the pick-ups in this, they’re proper random objects that have no business being in a cave.

    Is that a pint of Guinness? How old is Ruff?

    I must confess I have no memory of this game, and I loved my A1200. Perhaps I was still obsessed with Syndicate and wasn't paying attention to anything else. It looks amazing.

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    1. Guinness was my first thought as well, but it's probably just a glass of really flat cola.

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  2. Great game :) I love that hard metal-techno music and graphics are mind blowing too. Few years ago somebody made fix to this game for 2-fire joysticks so You have one button for shooting and joystick for direction, and there's second button for jumping - so there's no more problem with diagonal and up aiming :) Another fun fact that this game have demo with one large level based on Forest theme but design is different. Second fun fact game was joint-venture, I mean it was made by people from different developer teams that decide to make own game so they form Wunderkind.
    Ruff'n'Tumble is one of that type of game You finish one day, and after some time back to play it again, even if You lose You will enjoy Your time.When I finish it - I fell that I want to see more levels and different stuff, but not because game's short (it's not), it's because everything is on right place - game always have something interesting to show.

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  3. I was never into Amiga, but does anyone else think the games on this system all look the same? From Gods to Cyberdogs everything has that "polished gradient" look.

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    1. There is a fair bit of orange-and-chrome on the Amiga, yes -- check out Perihelion! -- but not every game looked like it.

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    2. I think part of that is due to people wanting to show off the prettiest games, so those are the screenshots you tend to see. There's plenty of low contrast flat looking games on the Amiga but no one wants to talk about Bad Cat and Doodlebug.

      But yeah the system's got more than it's fair share of shiny metal looking games, and I love it for that.

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  4. This is indeed one of the finest platformers on the Amiga. It's pretty, slick and fast, and to be able to impress at a time where everything was going 3d, is no small feat.

    I did start my blog with this game, so you can tell how important is to be. Here's the blog, in case anyone wants to take a look.

    http://amigamemoirs.blogspot.pt/2013/12/chapter-i-ruff-n-tumble.html

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  5. Ruff 'n' Tumble Remake never finish.......
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDeagJfv9fg

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