Friday 19 February 2010

Toxic Bunny

Time to test out those slightly bigger blog dimensions!

I like Jazz Jackrabbit. You'd be hard pressed to find a DOS fan that didn't give it (or its sequel) some credit. But as great as Jazz is, I've always felt that the game would be greatly improved if the character had some sort of psychotic addiction to caffeine, and if he spent more time running around underground shooting mutants and aliens in an attempt to get revenge on Margaret Thatcher (because who else would interfere with designated break times set by the unions!?). Thank goodness that Celestial Games heard my request made fourteen years into the future and created...

Toxic Bunny. Is it all coming back to you now? Didn't think so. That's because Toxic Bunny was released in 1996, at least three years after Doom decided to render all 2D PC platformers unsellable and cause a twenty year long chain of constantly improving first person shooters. Toxic turned up for both DOS and Windows computers, but it wasn't long until it was sent to the bargain bin to eventually make friends with Jimmy White's Cueball and various old Worms games. Celestial pointlessly changed their name to Twilyt Productions, attempted to release a sequel on the original Xbox, failed and seemed to disappear off the gaming map.

The core mechanics of the game are as follows; you're a rabbit named Toxic, and you run around throwing or shooting things at god's creations for no apparent reason. You explore large, detailed maps in the hopes of finding objects to allow you to progress, and in the mean time you find yourself collecting various items to restore health, gain points or allow you to conduct CHEMICAL EXPERIMENTS. Imagine Metroid crossed with Sonic the Hedgehog in Starbucks and you'd get a similar experience... assuming you then covered everything in slime and allowed the characters to become malnourished and unwell.

Of course with extreme speeds you get some extreme problems, and in Toxic Bunny's case, that problem is the collision detection... or the lack of it. Screenshots of the game tend to look great - even the ones in this post and they've got some of the lighting effects turned off for DOSBox's sake, but gameplay is broken and awkward and certainly wouldn't have pleased the console fans who had grown up with solid platformers. When I first played this game, this didn't concern me, but these days every jump reduces my life expectancy, because it's almost impossible to tell exactly where you'll land. The purposefully dirty graphics don't really help convey the idea of a well-built platformer either, but in Toxic's defense, most playable characters aren't addicted to some form of drug.

However Toxic Bunny is still riddled with interesting and original ideas, which is why I've brought it to your attention. While other developers were aiming to create the next Sonic, Celestial created a game about coffee-drinking rabbit. You don't get games like this anymore. TB is also the only game I know of with a "boredom" mode, which stars some magnetised hamsters floating about with some funky backgrounds. This obviously wins the game some more points, even if I'm not sure why.

Overall it's a strange little platformer, but it has its moments of comedy and it's not like Jazz Jackrabbit has a perfect gameplay track record either. There's also supposedly a free port to Java in the works. Because as we all know, Java was founded by fans of tea and coffee.

No comments:

Post a Comment