“Bobinator,” you might be saying, after looking at the last two posts. At least, I hope you did. If you didn’t, this hypothetical conversation is going to get weird. “Why do you keep saying that there’s a treasure trove of games we’ve never seen on the Amiga, and yet you keep putting up crap like Body Blows?” And my answer is that I honestly don’t know. Let’s fix that, though: I’m gonna put up what’s pretty much my favorite Amiga game ever, and what I would honestly say is the best.
Why yes, that is a small child unloading an Uzi, presumably into somebody’s face just offscreen. It only gets better. I’m going to say this straight out: Ruff N’ Tumble is a good game. A REALLY good game. It’s probably one of the best Amiga games I’ve ever played, and I’m honestly shocked it never got a port to the SNES or Genesis/Megadrive. I’m not sure how. I mean, there are quite a few other Amiga games that got ports to the consoles. You’ve probably heard of The Chaos Engine/Soldiers of Fortune and Gods. And so, let’s get this thing rolling. This game’s nice enough to not make you swap disks, although you do have about 30 seconds of loading. It’s acceptable, I guess. I’ve played PS2 games that take longer to load.
So this is the game in a nutshell. You control Ruff, some kid who is, for reasons unexplained, very good at shooting things with an Uzi. He actually looks like Calvin, from the newspaper comic strip ‘Calvin & Hobbes’, if he were drawn by Disney.
The plot, as helpfully explained by manual I found on Lemon Amiga, basically comes down to this. You are Ruff, a young boy with a bag of marbles who falls down a hole into another dimension. This dimension is ruled by Dr. Destiny, some guy who plans to use Ruff’s marbles to take over the world. How he plans to do this isn’t explained. Apparently, however, Destiny is a “sporting chap”, because he leaves behind a giant machine gun for Ruff to take back his marbles with. All right, this just goes beyond “Cliche villiany” and right into “Giving the hero a gun and basically daring him to go kill you with it”. For reasons also unexplained, Ruff instantly knows how to use this gun. You saw him on the title screen, I don’t think there’s people three times his age who are that used to shooting things. Ruff has issues.
Here’s a question: How much of this plot do you think is actually going to be used in this game? If you gave an answer higher than ‘Crap all’, you’re wrong.
Your goal for every level is to run around and pick up all the marbles scattered across the stage, then find the exit. They’re generally not too hard to find, if you follow the trail of powerups and killer deathbots. Oh, yes, there will be deathbots. They all come in their own share of varities, although they all share the same dead-eyed stare. You’ve got robots that charge headfirst at you, flying robots, robots with laser blunderbusses… there’s nothing in this game that ISN”T a robot, besides you. And that’s fine, really. This game controls surprisingly well, given that we’re still dealing with a system with, for the most part, only one button. Body Blows showed the worst that could happen with that kind of setup, while this game shows you can make it work, with some effort.
Pushing up makes you jump, and the button makes you shoot. That’s all there is to it. Standing still and holding the button will let you fire in place in different directions, while hitting the button while moving lets you shoot while you’re moving. It’s simple, but it works.
Here we see Ruff unloading into a couple of robots, with one of them expoding nicely. These walking robots aren’t really all that tough, aside from the fact that weaker weapons have a chance of knocking them down, making them invicibile for a brief moment. The ‘P’ thing is basically an ammo pickup. See, Ruff’s machine gun works off the same ammo system as Earthworm Jim’s blaster thingy. When the meter gets close to empty, it fires really slowly until you let it charge back up, while having the ammo meter go over halfway will increase its fire rate.
Oh, but that’s hardly the other weapon you’ll find. Special weapons abound all over the Fantasy Forest, like this flamethrower. as you expect, it does a ton of damage, but the range kind of sucks. Special weapons have unlimited ammo, but their ammo meter basically works as a timer. When the meter at the top middle runs out, you’ll go back to your machine gun, and it’s going to need time to recharge. This is especially bad when you’re surrounded by deathbots out for your blood.
These little robots below Ruff will explode into a spread of bullets if Ruff gets too close. It’s usually not too hard to avoid, but when you get three of them bunched up like this, you’re probably going to get hit. Unless, of course, you pick up that evil smiley face down on the left. What it does is give you invincibility AND full ammo for a brief period of time, so the icon, while it looks like something you wouldn’t want to collect at first glance, is very appropriate. The thing on the left will explode into more… well, exploding robots, so you’ll want to grab that power-up quick.
Note all the point items up for grabs, too. I honestly really miss games where there was just random crap lying over you could grab for points. Food, floppy disks, diamonds… I think my favorite was Duke Nukem 2, where you could get a copy of his book, “Why I’m So Great”.
Of course, the game isn’t always that nice. This platform is right under a spring that takes you JUST high enough you can see all that stuff above, but not high enough you can actually grab any of it. If there’s a way up to grab all this stuff, please let me know.
I’d like to stop for a moment to talk about just how GOOD this game feels. It doesn’t really feel like your average Amiga game at all. There’s just so many good design decisions throughout this game, that if I didn’t know any better, I’d honestly believe it was a SNES or Genesis game. For one thing, the difficulty feels a lot more fair than most Amiga games. There’s plenty of health lying around, and every time you take it, you’re given a fair amount of invincibility time, meaning that standing over the weakest enemy in the game won’t kill you in about three seconds.
That’s not to say the game’s not challenging, that is, but it definitely feels FAIR. Any time you die, it’s your fault. Not the controls, not the game mechanics. It’s all you.
The thing on the right is a turret, by the way. It opens up and fires lasers on you when you get close, much like most other turrets. The best thing to do with it is run up to it and unload a flamethrower on it, much like you would in real life. The metal platforms are robot generators, which will spawn more robots until the light on them quits blinking. They make a good source of coins, which in platformer tradition, makes a good source of not losing.
I like the safari bot, too. I don’t usually say things like this, but this game is seriously pretty. Not just the sounds, easier, but the music. You’d expect something whimsical for a forest level, but nope. Ruff N’ Tumble is all about METAL.
And so, after four stages of robot death, possibly with more than a little death of your own considering that Ruff takes to the spike pits scattered around the forest like Mega Man…
The robot owl isn’t too tough, if you know what you’re doing. It shoots at you a couple of times, swoops around in a circle, and then drops out a few of those little exploding robots. If you don’t figure out the pattern, it can cost you a couple of lives, but with a little practice…
Like any video game boss worth its salt, the owl explodes about a hundred times before dropping about 37 gold coins to put towards an extra life. Sadly, real owls don’t explode nearly as well, nor do they drop that much gold.
And so, we move onto the next world, titled, simply enough “Rocks N’ Stuff”. And so, after eradicating all those soulless robotic kildroids in the forest, what’s next?
I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. This isn’t really the sort of site for reviews, but I’d give this game an 8 out of 10, no questions asked. Like I said, it could have easily ended up as a Super Nintendo game, with a little work to the controls, and it’s an absolute crime that it didn’t. It’s probably one of the best games on the entire Amiga, and I can dare say I haven’t found a game on that that’s matched up ever since. Even for an Amiga game, the hardware’s biggest flaws, like disk swapping (There isn’t any, at least that I’ve seen) and a one button joystick don’t make this game any less awesome.
Sadly, however, since this game ended up on a system that about ten people in the US owned, a year after the release of Doom, hardly anybody who isn’t an Amiga fan knows about this game. There’s apparently a remake in development, but since the last post about it was in November last year, I’m not holding out much hope. Still, this game is WORTH the hassle of Amiga emulation. If you like Commander Keen, Jazz Jackrabbit, Turrican, action platformers, or having fun in general, you WANT this.
But don’t take my word for it! *ba dump bum!*
Keep in mind, the video’s more than an hour long, because the guy’s going through the entire game. About 10 minutes should do to get a good idea of the game.
Or, if you don’t want to bother with Amiga emulation, there’s this alternative. Some insane genius has made a Ruff N’ Tumble fangame that’s basically Ruff shooting his way through other games.
I’m not quite as fond of it, because you only get one life before you have to restart the entire game, and it doesn’t feel QUITE as polished. But then they put in the announcer from Killer Instinct whenever you get a kill combo, and everything is forgiven.