Fury of the Furries & Me

By Alec Meer on November 22nd, 2007 at 6:49 pm.

“Fury of the Furries.” Snort. D’y’know, that wasn’t funny back in 1993. Now, though, hoo-boy. Angry men defending their rights to dress up in teddy bear suits is a game that simply must come to pass. 1993’s Fury of the Furries, though, was a platform game about cute fluffy things with goo-goo voices fighting for their right to exist. Oh.

On with the story, anyway. A warning: this post is more nostalgia than restrospective, I’m afraid, but everyone has a unique gaming heritage, so maybe it’ll be at least a little interesting in that respect. Maybe. I suspect it stands a better chance of being the longest piece of writing about Fury of the Furries on the entire internet.

This French-made puzzle-platformer found its way into my life by simple dint of my being able to afford it. I’d had (or rather, my mother had) a PC for about a year by that point, and it duly took over my life: that was it, I was now a PC gamer. What I hadn’t ever had in that time was a game in a box – y’know, a real game. The soundcard I was given for my birthday came with a free copy of Monkey Island 2, but it was just floppy discs and that codewheel in a jiffy bag. Everything else was pirated from friends. With no pocket-money to speak of, and parents who faintly disapproved of my new hobby, buying games was simply an impossibility to 12-year-old me. Fortunately, I became a founder-member of ‘The PC Club’ at school. The sole purpose of this short-lived fraternity was to copy games from each other. The poorest child of the group, I was looked down on for being unable to provide anything myself, but somehow I got away with it. Thanks to these affluent teenage acquaintances, I played most of the big PC games of the early 1990s as they happened, and that’s probably the major reason why I am who and where I am today.

Despite all the freebies, I was jealous and resentful of not having my own games. On one of my many maudlin, futile visits to the local game shop, I spotted Fury of the Furries. It was £12 – a price, for once, within reach. Something about its cover art – I’m getting to that very shortly, and boy, are you going to judge me for it – got into my head, and I knew I had to have it. I saved and I saved and, after what felt like years but was probably weeks, I got there. I owned my first game in a box. It felt like an item of absolute luxury – I opened it, closed it, reopended it, read the manual, read the back of the box, hundreds of times over. I don’t own it anymore, and I’ve no idea when or how I got rid of it. Odd, as it once mattered so much.

I just looked up Fury of the Furries on Wikipedia and, once I got over my surprise that it was on there at all, I spotted that the cover was there. Bam. Like a punch to the stomach. I haven’t seen that image for maybe thirteen years. The second I did, I was back on the bus that took me home from school, clutching tightly onto my freshly-bought game. A boy in the seat in front asks to look at it. I refuse, and clutch the game tighter to my chest, sneering. Sméagol becomes Gollum. I truly believe he won’t give it back. He wants it for himself. Precious game. He just wanted, of course, to look at the screenshots on the back of the box, and I feel an odd guilt now for denying him that.

The box looked like this:

Eek. If a single, hand-drawn image of a giant, boss-eyed, gurning yellow ball with hideously ugly feet isn’t enough to make someone buy your game, then really, what is? It’s pretty painful to look at that thing now. Christ. How dumb I was. But in 1993, that was it, I was off. For months, scrappy biro recreations of that image found their way onto almost everything I owned, and into the margin of every page in every school book, which caused at least one uncomfortable confrontation with an exasperated teacher. Probably the same one who’d suffered me doing the same with Dune 2 Ornithopters in the previous year. In the game itself, these characters (though the box called them Furries, in the game they were known as Tinies, which confused me to the point of headaches at the time) came in – count ‘em – four different colours, so my hideous attempts at fanart knew no bounds. It was pretty much all I talked about for some time, and played a fairly major part in developing my burgeoning high school reptuation as Weird Geeky Kid.

When I wasn’t drawing it, or writing incomprehensibly awful comic strips about it, I was playing Fury of the Furries. I do remember it as being fairly inventive: the central mechanism was that you could change the colour of your Tiny. Each colour had a different ability. Yellow throws fireballs. Blue can swim. Green has a grappling hook. Red eats walls. Cute. I think. Tiny had to overcome various obstacles and enemies by ensuring he was the right colour at the right time. It was a little like era-mate The Lost Vikings, in that, as well as the platforming action, puzzling out a logical, safe route around the level was the only way to complete it. Go that way and you’ll pass through a beam which robs you of the Green you need to be to grapple up to the next ledge. Go that way and you’ll fall onto spikes. So, find another way. I seem to recall it being bastard hard, presumably a frustrating fusion of the pixel-precise requirements of that era of platform game, and of my not having the innate aptitude at gaming that so many of my contemporaries seemed to. I certainly played a lot of the early levels again and again, but I don’t think I finished it. I wish I had, as Wikipedia informs me it involved this: “In this last final region, you will have to fight characters from other games and from movies, Batman, Battletoads, ninja turtles and terminator are some of them.” My heavens. That’s brave.

I never knew anything about the game beyond what was in the box, either. I barely even knew what a developer was back then, so had no interest who made it and what else they’d done, beyond quietly wishing for a Furries 2. Now, of course, I get to look it up, and it’s a fairly fascinating tale. Clearly Furries didn’t do that well, as the next year Namco bought it and re-released it – but with Tiny replaced by Pac-Man. Bloody Pac-Man! How did I not know this until now? Pac-in-Time was a moderate, multi-format hit, and, infuriatingly, its Wikipedia page is about four times as long as Fury of the Furries. PAC-IN-TIME IS A LIE, PEOPLE.


Fury of the Furries…


… and Pac-In-Time. Subtle.

Selling the hell out aside, clearly Fury of the Furries meant a fair bit to developer-publisher Atreid Concept (later, Kalisto Entertainment, later still Mindscape Bordeaux, and finally Kalisto again) too, as they’d visited the Tinies before. Tiny Skweeks, aka The Brainies, was a puzzle game starring the familiar red, yellow, blue and green hairy-ball line-up. And, unbelievably, the Tinies returned in 2001, with ‘Tinies Farter.’ Yes, Farter. I’ll defer to the description on Moby Games here:

“The Tinies are little hair balls with 2 big eyes falling from the sky. Their life is pretty short since their only destiny is to crash on the floor. If they don’t want to die, they have only one solution, fart in order to reduce their falling speed and land on a smart zone where nothing can hurt them. Help the Tinies to navigate in this dangerous world where everything can kill them. Press the fire button to fart and up left and right to have the tiny rotate on itself.”

Farting Furries were not my Furries, dammit. More interesting and less gaseous is where the developers went after Furries/Pac-in-Time. The much-reviled Fifth Element game was theirs, as was Nightmare Creatures and New York Race, and Al Unser Jr. Arcade Racing, the game Bill Gates used to first demonstrate the gaming abilities of Windows 95. Where are Kalisto now? Well, they went bankrupt in 2002, were found without fault for it in 2006, and currently their website is just one of those ad-lead fake search pages that tend to feed off lapsed sites. Guess that means no Fury of the Furries 2 then. Sorry, this is all a bit tedious isn’t it? I’m just finding it fascinating to only now discover the chequered history of the people behind a game that briefly took over my life.

Anyway, of course the game’s available for free up on The Underdogs, so I’ve just spent a very unsettling afternoon doing something I’ve not done since 1993. The intro movie is uniquely batshit – first a spaceship, then cavemen Tinies, then a crystal ball and a kidnapped king. Helpful. Then, there’s the language select screen. I’m about to hit English, when the bottom-right option captures my eye. Fremen? Hang on… Isn’t that… Yes. Fremen as in the desert people who drink their own recycled urine in the Dune books. And they get their own made-up language in Fury of the Furries. This is a uniquely weird game. One of the loading screens confirms the game’s Frank Herbert fanboyism:

Once I’m in to the game proper – mind still reeling from all these scenes I used to draw everywhere as a callow youth – I begin to be a little bit impressed, the awful midi soundtrack aside. It really is hard, in a way that would probably be considered unforgivable in a new game today. Within seconds, I collide with a cactus and die. Spikes and acid and running out of time inflict similar fates, time and again. The inexplicable inertia of Tiny (he’s mostly fur! He doesn’t weigh enough to slide around like that!) makes him monstrously hard to control, each new jump requiring precise timing and control if you don’t want to start the level over. But, for all that, it’s fun. Actually fun.

The puzzles are thoughtful – gauging which colour you need to be for each situation works well, and I felt proud for each level I finally mastered. He’s contrived, and I can’t work out why I spent all the time drawing him, but Tiny’s definitely got character, marvellously well-realised in the 256-colour, jerky animations of the day. It is Not A Bad Game. It’s mildly heartening to realise I wasn’t totally wasting my time all those years ago, even if I remain hideously embarrassed about what Fury of the Furries did to me.

I do wish I still had that box, though.

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34 Comments »

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  1. Lorc says:

    Funnily enough I was musing nostalgic about this just the other day. I definitely have fond memories of the game.

  2. Matt Dovey says:

    I had completely forgotten about this game until I saw that top image, and it all came flooding back in a heady and clichéd wave of nostalgia. I’m not sure I even had the full game to play, mind; I had a similarly restricted access to games back in the day and subsisted purely on the demo floppies taped to the front of my beloved Amiga magazines. This is excuse number one for my short attention span these days.

  3. Phil says:

    I had a similar Proustian moment about a year ago when I randomly saw a screenshot for Yo!Jo on the Amiga, a solid platform game I remember primarily as one of the first I actually paid for and one in which you could wield a brutal lead pipe against both cutesy nasties and player two.

    I never completed it, went to gamefaqs out in search of spoilers and discovered what I now use as my gold standard for worthless message boards.

  4. Pod says:

    That codewheel is for MI 1.

    Ps, I loved Fury of the Furries on the old amiga and that box art was my PC background for a while. I thought the image was pretty cool….

  5. Pidesco says:

    This reminded me of the first that I bought at a store. Chip’s Challenge for the PC, in 1991 around Christmas at, of all places, Selfridges. I had to whine at my mom for a good while for her to finance my addiction, too.

  6. Emil says:

    You know what they should make a sequel for?

    Benefactor! It was kind of similar, fantastic old Amiga game.

  7. Phil says:

    Benefactor – sort of like more puzzel based Flashback but with smaller sprites and a sense of humour, if I remember it right.

    How about a next gen Walker – giant ED209 versus teeming hordes of comedy Nazis – that could be a win.

  8. Dan says:

    I had this for the CD32, and was immensely proud when I completed it, despite the derision of several of my school friends for owning something not concerned with reducing aliens into bloody chunks.

    Thinking of the CD32 also reminds me how amazed I was by the intro to Alien Breed: Tower Assault. Just watched it again courtesy of YouTube. Graphics are pretty smart in a sub first-series B5 fashion, but the acting… “Toast those Mothers!”

  9. groovychainsaw says:

    I’ve still got this on my CD32 somewhere, wonder if i should dig it out. One thing the CD32 was good for was picking up a quality library of games for about £1 each as it rapidly died… I must have about 40 of them!

  10. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    Jesus….I can’t remember the first game i actually owned…. basicly everything on my 486 was copied….or just demos. I’m ashamed to say i think it was tiberian sun. followed closely by Unreal, then Mechwarrior 4……i came in slow…..but god damn i was in love with Doom and Commander keen.

  11. Caaln says:

    This is eerily familiar. Fury of the Furies was the first game I ever owned. And though it seems rather pathetic now, I don’t think I ever actually made it even a 3rd of the way through the game, because the damn bees in the forest kept blowing me up. I’ve since found little to compare with bouncing a ball of fur frenetically around a secret room in a desperate attempt to collect any remaining coins/plates before the timer runs out.

    The Pac-Thing, and Tiny sequels strike me as Abominations though, and the world seemed a brighter place before I read this article. So RPS be damned. (Although having said that, I have a feeling the main reason I got it was so I could have something to trade for my friends copy of the Jurassic Park game – what seedy origins PC gamers seem to have.)

    I still have all my old disks on a random corner of my hard-drive actually. To Dosbox!

  12. Emil says:

    “How about a next gen Walker – giant ED209 versus teeming hordes of comedy Nazis – that could be a win.”
    Hahaha! Yes!

  13. Sire404 says:

    I loved this game, mostly because of how much fun you could have once you mastered the grappling techniques of the green furball. The other characters just felt like a waste of time until you got to play green again. I wonder if this contributed to me later becoming a master grapple-monkey in Quake 2 CTF… :)

  14. David says:

    Does anyone have the old password list for Amiga?

    I got a moment of nostalgia and plugged it all in, but couldn’t find my list. Any help would be so much appreciated.

    My email is info@davemooney.co.uk.

    Cheers,
    David

  15. James T says:

    Oh man, that image is way better than any existing visual adaptation of Dune itself…

  16. sylvainulg says:

    So you were drawing furries too ^_^ It is surely a game that i’d love to see revived on a real gaming system such as the Nintendo DS, (as the always-decalibrating joypad of my childhood were all pads, and no joy) but at the same time, i fear what a commercial port would do to it. All the pixels are available to the subtle geek that knows of deluxe paint and owns the game … all the songs from Moby (now known as el Mobo) are available in their original .mod format for the Amiga version, though i definitely prefer the sound of my AdLib sound card.

    Yeah. /me nostalgic too :P And fortunately enough for me, my brother has nice music skillz, is found of the game too, and did remix two of the brilliant tunes of that game.

    Anyway, thanks for this furry moment you shared.

  17. Silvereye says:

    “fluffy balls red green yellow blue swim aliens game” was what I typed in a last desperate attempt to find out the name of this game – thank you! It’s been driving m crazy for weeks. I seem to recall getting stuck on an island with a blue and a yellow… probably pathetically far into the game, I wonder if it’s still about so I can try and finish it!

  18. CMaster says:

    Oh wow. Realise this is an anient article but feel the need to comment. I also had Fury of the Furries as a child and thought (and still think) the game was excellent and much deeper than most games of the time. It got a fair amount of critical praise, but limited commercial sucess I think.

    I may still have the box – I threw away most of my old big game boxes, but kept a couple of the more special ones I think. I definitley still have the manual, floppy disks and code books somewhere.

    The thing is, the game really is painfully hard. As a child I’ve never got beyond the forest and my attempts to return as an adult haven’t even managed that.

    One thing you don’t mention about the game is how unbelieveably full of secrets and bonus levels it was.

  19. Fury White says:

    The best game to match Fury of the Furries was perhaps original Dungeon Keeper.

  20. KillahMate says:

    Although no one will ever read this I feel compelled to write it; I was one of the heretics who knew this as Pac-In-Time (in my defense, I didn’t have the Internet to inform me of my error back then, and they really are almost identical). A brilliant game, fondly remembered from my youth. The graphical artistry on display was obvious even to my inexperienced eyes (did you know that the actual levels, outside of splash screens, only use 16 and not 256 colors per level? You didn’t, because it looked amazing), and the game design was as wonderful as I could have hoped for when I started the game up for the first time. Also one of the not too many games I actually completed (took me months, but I only recall a few spots being truly hard), and I’m very proud of it. I’m sorry more people didn’t get to play it… at least I’ll make sure my kids do, some day.