Packing The Rabbit Punch

By Jim Rossignol on September 19th, 2008 at 8:17 am.


Lugaru was an independently-developed third-person fighting game in which the central character was an anthropomorphic rabbit. That’s actually a bit better than that it sounds, and the fighting itself was actually relatively convincing. It’s one of those indie games that you don’t expect to be any good, but you install anyway, only to discover that it’s, y’know, okay. Why not download the demo (top of the page there) to see what I mean?

All of which preamble leads to the announcement that there is a sequel incoming, Overgrowth, which already has a spectacularly pretty website. Once again, it features the man-rabbit, and some combat. The development team are gunning for a commercial launch on this one, and I have to wish them luck. Rabbit’s feet at the ready, eh?

, , .

31 Comments »

  1. yns88 says:

    I remember playing a demo of Lugaru several years ago. Like many indie third-person PC action games (looking at you, Mount&Blade, but Lugaru was definitely worse), the combat got incredibly awkward once you had to deal with more than one opponent at a time.

    Then again, maybe the game has considerably changed over the last few years.

  2. Voidman says:

    For a moment there my synaptic matrix got all lit up by a wild thought of Gamma World CRPG, but then I spotted the “third-person fighting game” bit and it sunk again back to morning-office-on-Friday-autopilot-mode…

  3. DSX says:

    Nice to see “Mac, Windows and Linux” prominently featured (in that order) as the OS platforms on which the game will run.

  4. Fat says:

    I love little indie games like Lugaru… it can get incredibly hard fighting against Wolves and you really need to be smart and use weapons if possible to weaken some mobs or you will have a really hard time.

    Every friend i’ve shown this to has lol’d at the fact it’s like a 3D beat ‘em up starring a rabbit. It’s great fun but can be tricky.

    Protip – You don’t need to ‘CLICK’ your attack button when in range, if you hold it down BEFORE you get in range, then you will pull off your attack as soon as possible and not have to worry so much when fighting against wolves.

    Also, i have still not perfected certain moves that are spoke about on the forums… like where you jump over an enemy while doing a backflip with a knife in your hand and slit their throat while aerial. Yeah, srsly.

    Also Also, much like Mount & Blade, another great indie game you posted about, there are some player-made campaigns out there.

  5. faelnor says:

    In before the first “Furry” comment.

  6. Esha says:

    I’d hope the RPS crowd is better than that, faelnor. In fact, the complete absence of the lowest common denominator here is why I keep reading. Compared to most of the internet, this is like a little corner cafĂ© where growing geniusi gather.

    As far as Lugaru goes, I wanted to like it because of the theriomorphic content. It’s been a long while since I’ve played a great game that had lots of theriomorphic content and all my mind kicks up when I try to remember one is either Shining Force or Wizardry.

    Still, the game was only okay-ish… but I’ll certainly check out the sequel. If there’s one thing the first Lugaru game was full of, it was promise, there was potential there.

  7. Fringe says:

    Woah, that’s an impressive website!

  8. Meat Circus says:

    @Esha:

    I think you’ll find that Alec’s the Lowest Common Denominator here. It’s his ‘affectation’.

    BACK TO WAR.

  9. Esha says:

    @MC

    That I’ll believe when I see.

    @Site

    I forgot to talk about the site, especially considering that I did check it out. I have to say that I dig their art style, it’s very reminiscent of a more grody, gritty version of Redwall, I definitely get mental riffs off Redwall when looking at it. That’s not a bad thing though, considering that I absolutely loved all things Redwall to bits. It’s just a shame that there’s not been one decent thing based off the Redwall books yet, but I digress…

  10. Chis says:

    Leaving the furry argument aside (it makes me shudder too, ugh), I’d like to give these devs some props for doing something vaguely unique with their in-game characters. I’ve seen far too many grizzled, muscular space rangers, soldiers, warriors etc in games.

    Starfox wouldn’t have half the charm it has without Fox, Peppy, Falco etc.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    Um, now everyone thinks that I’m insulting Alec. I didn’t mean it that way. To clarify, I was trying to make a slightly jokey reference to the RPS dynamic:

    * Gillen the pompous one
    * Walker the disdainful one
    * Rossignol the aloof one and
    * Meer the man-on-the-street one-of-us one

    I didn’t mean to imply that Mr Meer is our very own Jade Goody. Apologies for any broken egoes caused.

  12. Esha says:

    @Chis

    You speak truth, though the image of grizzled Space Rangers always leaves me with the recollection of Republican Space Rangers from GTA IV. Thanks for that, Rockstar. In fact, I can see 80 per cent of Spore-players going that way at end-game, instead of the happy, hippie, mind-control-leads-to-ultimate-happiness route that my werewolves in top hats took.

    Still, enough Spore, bad Esha, damn you Kieron!

    That’s one of the things that draws me to games like Lugaru anyway, it’s the fact that there’s some escapism involved. I happen to be a human every day of my life, and whilst the connection to entirely human characters in games is nice (because, y’know, they’re human and I’m human and naturally that makes having a connection with them easy – sarcasm alert for those whose radars are off at the moment), it doesn’t mean the market has to be entirely saturated with them.

    Games have the potential to show people unique things, to allow them to explore the myriad facets of life in general, it doesn’t only just have to be books and comics (along with the amazingly rare movie) that does this. So when I’m given the chance to play as something really unique, I jump at the chance, I’m all over the opportunity to do so.

    There’s nothing I love in games more than immersing myself in a new form of life, with a peculiar yet interesting culture, and generally playing as a member of a race of peoples that does things differently to pretty much everything else.

    …okay, my mind just flashed the tangent alert, so I’m going to leave that right there.

    @MC

    Ahh, now I see what you mean. Then I apologise for the misunderstanding, as the err was clearly mine. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s misinterpreting intentions. The internet helps with that though, hard to know when someone’s joking and ribbing or actually having a go.

  13. James G says:

    Thinking about this it raises the question, has character design got less imaginative? If you think back to the late 80s, early 90s non-human characters were common, and often even human characters would be interestingly removed from the grizzled macho characters that are so common today. I’m not suggesting that all characters today lack imagination, but developers do seem to be less willing to take risks than they used to be. (I mean can you really see a developer deciding to use an anthropomorphic egg as a main character nowadays?)

  14. Chis says:

    Perhaps the perception is that, nowadays, athropomorphic characters are somehow “childish” in their conception, compared to realistic humanoids.

    Example: Faced with the possibility of finally being able to watch the “SatAM” Sonic The Hedgehog series (thanks to the DVD reissue), despite being 26 years into my life and losing all interest in Sonic as a video game character, I found it an attractive prospect. Escapism is enjoyable once in a while. :P

  15. Esha says:

    @Chis

    Oh dear, I remember those.

    I have to admit though that I have moments like that too, and not too long ago I found myself watching Willy Fog, just because I hadn’t seen it in an eternity. It was a surprisingly well written show for the time, and I wish cartoons were still that well-written. But that was a more innocent time for television, when the UK was collaborating with France to provide educational and fun television goodness.

    I do agree with your sentiment and realisation, though. It does seem to be that hard-nosed realism is being taken as the only way to go these days, eschewing anything that might slight that realism. The shame of that though is that these days, there are fewer things which really ignite the imagination.

    For me, the last one was Mask of the Betrayer. But that had a blue-skinned spawn of a hag, an angel (just to dumb it down so it’s understood), a mage with a sentient pet built out of mud and sticks, and a talking technicolour Bear. Now that sparked the imagination, and really drew me in.

    I’ll keep citing MotB, I will forevermore, at any given oppurtunity… because there needs to be more like that.

    But anyway, that aside, I do worry that imagination is being set aside these days. I’m really not sure why, whether it’s because people are uncomfortable with having their imagination engaged, because it challenges them, or whether it’s simpler for developers to create things which aren’t imaginative, and therefore require smaller budgets.

    I don’t have the answer to this.

    It’d make a great breakfast topic at some point, somewhere, though. But as I see it, grand bouts of escapism are becoming more few and far between, this is why I’ll take whatever I can get, generally.

  16. Zaph says:

    I love Lugaru actually! The combat is just so fun and satisfying when you get the hang of it. I remember playing the demo a couple of years ago and going “Oh snap son” and I promptly whipped out my (dad’s) credit card. It was the first thing I bought on the internets. I also agree that the whole Redwall-ish theme is very fresh. What other game lets you jab a knife into a rabbits throat, or kick him into someone else with such force that they both die? There’s enough also some of crazy details, like how it’s only possible to sneak up on a wolf if you go against the wind.
    The game was made by one dude, David Rosen. His brainpower is frightening. Anyways. Definitively looking forward to this! There has been some tech stuff posted on the blog (from when the game was still Lugaru 2) that’s fairly impressive.

  17. Jonathan says:

    Lugaru, is it you?
    Hmm hmm hmm
    Lugaru, is it you?
    Doo de doo
    Mmmmm neh neh neh
    Nur nur nur nur
    Nur nur nur nur nure
    Oh yeah!
    Lugaru, is it you?
    Hmm hmm hmm
    Lugaru, is it you?
    .
    Altogether now!

  18. James G says:

    @Esha

    You’re right. MotB was absolutely excellent in terms of imagination. While the MotB characters may have lacked some of the light heartedness of those in the OC, their depth of character meant that they proved far more interesting company. This was met with a campaign which was satisfyingly different from the whole overdone ‘save the world’ idea and seamlessly wove several threads together. SPOILERS SPOILERS
    I also loved the misdirection that caused some players, including myself, to believe that they could achieve more that would be possible. Sure, it was a bit of a sucker punch, but it fitted in with the context of the world and actually made sense. The fact that it happened with one of the first goals that I’ve ever actually cared about made the move brave, but ultimately even more effective.

  19. Shamanic Miner says:

    This bought back memories of Samurai Warrior Usagi Yojimbo on the 64. Twenty years is a long time to wait between anthropomorphic fighting rabbit games.

  20. thaddeus says:

    if “watership down” or “redwall” were a game …

  21. Bassem B. says:

    I played the demo a couple months ago. I remember it was pretty cool – the controls simple and intuitive while allowing for a wide range of actions.

  22. Jeffrey Rosen says:

    :) Glad you like the website! We worked really hard on it and the game is going to look just as cool.

  23. Lorc says:

    I love the look of the art. I hope this style carries through to the game proper.

  24. Marcin says:

    I liked the concept, but was intimidated by the controls. I felt like I was flailing with no possibility of improvement. I signed up for the newsletter for Overgrowth, though :)

  25. Esha says:

    @James G

    [Oops, you're right... I should warn about these. Okay - Spoiler zone, skip to the next @ if you haven't played Mask.]

    Your analysis is quite true, because the overall goal was quite hefty. It was, after all, to basically dethrone one deity and undo the works of another. And to have neither achieved at the end was … heart-rending. But that too was one of the things that made the game stick with me, and I have to admit that my mind played out no end of “What if?” scenarios, mostly in regards to approaching the City of the Dead and onwards.

    And that’s just part of the magic of Mask, much of the game is designed to make the player think, and when the player isn’t thinking, possibly to have them dream a little, too. This is something that’s usually only ever accomplished by books and a damned talented writer, to see it have been done in a game makes me long to see it again. To know it is possible and that it may never happen again is horrid, and this is perhaps why I look upon the more unimaginative fare released today with a more cynical eye than I would otherwise.

    And it’s funny, because as much as I loved Fallout, Planescape, and Baldur’s Gate II (along with the mod Westley did, I think it was), none of them hit me as strongly as Mask did. And I realise that as technology increases, so does the ability to tell an absolutely amazing tale, to tell fantastic tales. And the fact that we’re having the same old tripe shoveled upon us frequently is … well, tragic.

    These are just my feelings on the matter, of course. But it might help the RPS crowd understand my attitude towards games, and that’s a good thing.

    Anything that shows even the slightest bit of imagination, I’m all over. Anything that looks like it could go beyond the realms of simply being a game, and touch upon that hallowed goal of being an experience which the gamer may never forget. So thus do I shamelessly encourage imagination.

    I’ve derailed a bit here, but I think it was worthwhile.

    @thaddeus

    Redwall would be grand, as would Watership Down. I’d even settle for a continuation of Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb (which was loosely based on ideas presented by both). If that happened though, they’d have to bring the respective writers on board just to make sure it does become the same kind of experience the books are.

    I could only begin to wrap my mind around how wonderful an RPG done in Bioware’s new Aurora engine might be. And it would introduce the humble gamer to something a little different, as being primarily a British series of books, the heroes and villains aren’t the usual fare that one would expect to find in games. The villains especially can be intriguing, clever, and quite eloquent.

    If nothing else, it would make for some enrapturing dialog.

    @Jeffrey Rosen

    I’m going to hold you to that! I’m actually looking forward to Lugaru almost because of the fascinating art-style. If you manage to capture that within a game, then you can count on one happy camper.

  26. Tally says:

    I for one would like to say that I loved the original Lugaru. The fluidity of combat it achieved would have been impossible in the multibutton, more typical fighters. I also felt thet the combat was never “awkward” against multiple opponents, just incredibly difficult. I’ve managed to beat multiple opponents on hard at once just by dodging plenty, keeping most of them on their backs with a healthy amount of low kicks and never allowing myself to be surrounded. Complain if you want, but being able to easily defeat multiple enemies crowded around you because they take turns attacking just seems bizarre.

    Holy sh*t! Lugaru, developers on RPS! Jeff, I love you guys, keep up the good work.

  27. Nate says:

    I loved Lugaru too. Combat felt difficult and deadly, and yet once you got the hang of it, nothing felt really impossible.

    The fact that you were a rabbit was actually pretty important. It’s one thing for a cop to throw away his badge and hunt down his family’s killers– cops, video game cops at least, are accustomed to violence. A meek rabbit that’s driven to slit throats and fight wolves just has a lot more dramatic potential.

    Plus, animals have tons of symbolism attached to them. Tolkien-based stories (which, let’s face it, involve killing anthropomorphic pigs) always reek of an unhealthy racism to me: the orcs live only for war, and must be exterminated. A wicked sorcerer (and long noses are common) is behind the invasions. The good guys are the ones protecting a civilization remarkably similar to that of Western Europe. Oh noes! Saruman is interbreeding the “savage race” with the pretty pretty elves! Revolting! I wonder if there’s pics?

    But wolves? We’ve been using them in fairy tales for years. They’ve got personality, and they’ve got reason to kill rabbits.

  28. Chis says:

    Okay someone give the Overgrowth web designer a few awards? That is, hands down, the most striking, pretty and unique site I’ve seen in far too long a time. Someone add v-sync support to Firefox, please. :P

  29. Jonathan says:

    Just wanted to mention that Overgrowth was on the front page of Gamespot. Can anyone here say breakthrough game?

  30. The Shed says:

    @Zeph: Damn right brother. I remember playing the demo and liking how simple yet deep the gameplay was. “Oh snap son” is positively correct. This new one has been in Dev for flippin aaages, it almost felt like it was dead for a while there.

  31. Bobic says:

    There really needs to be a new post about this. Lugaru was one of the most compelling games that I have ever played, and most of it was just how strange it was. Why were there giant stones, perfectly square, in the desert? Why did skipper kill them? It also seemed like the only game that wasn’t a linear series of challenges (even though it was). They just had a free deal on it recently…