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Fur Fighters
Platform:  Dreamcast
# of Players:  1-4
Developer:  Bizarre Creations
Publisher:  Acclaim
Features:  Rumble, 4-player Deathmatch
Ratings:  Rating Pending
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If you are like me you enjoy the simplistic plots and action of platform games but are tired of all the cutesy mascots that they feature. Plus their methods of attack are really lame. If I have to jump on the heads any more enemies in order to subdue them I am going to barf. Thankfully the good people at Bizarre Creations have taken all of those cutesy character types and fitted them with high-powered firearms so you can have the best of a 3D platform and a shooter at the same time.

Just like every other cartoon game there is this big bad evil guy who kidnaps all of the town’s children. The reason? Killing the adults just never seems to work so kidnapping their children is sure to subdue them. I don’t get it either. Well you know you have to get them back so off you go. There are six different species that live in the village and six different playable characters. Each one has to rescue his or her own species of children.

After a long intro sequence reminiscent of the opening shot in the movie The Player you have to go into training. You don’t have a choice, you have to do it. Boy does this part suck. As it goes through each characters’ abilities in painstaking detail you are saying to yourself, “Hey, I got kids to rescue. I can’t be bothered with this bullshit.” Thankfully the training ends and you finally get to go into the first level.

Each level has many different sub-levels with different missions to stop the evil guy’s sinister plans. One of the initial levels is a mock New York City complete with a Central Park, a train, and a museum modeled after the Guggenheim. The level design is great and offers a lot of diversity with nooks and crannies everywhere that must be found if all of the children are to be rescued. Though the level choice is very linear (i.e. you can’t get to level B without completing level A) the levels are so vast that it never feels like you are on tracks. Plus each level has mini-games to break up the running and shooting.

Speaking of shooting, this is where the game really takes a step away from every single other game in its class. Sure you play the parts of a cute little dog or a penguin but you are packing major Doom-style heat. There are machine guns, shotguns, and even rocket launchers. This ain’t no kiddie game. As you run around shooting countless enemies you will notice that the auto-aim works very well, which is nice considering that the control is a bit jerky. The only problem is that unseen enemies often shoot at you from parts unknown and running away from bullet fire is almost useless because these guys shoot to kill.

All is not well in the realm of gameplay however. If you take your characters into any narrow hallways be forewarned that the camera is going to zoom around like mad trying to get you the best angle, which of course only really causes confusion. As I mentioned before the camera is already jerky throughout most of the game but in the tight spots its jerkiness is turned up to a 10. Also a first person perspective would have been nice for those hard-to-shoot places. The individual tasks that must be accomplished are often unclear as well. There is a helpful Walrus that gives pointers like “jump on the train at the right time” which doesn’t help much.

Overall the selling point of this game is in its concept. It bridges the gap between realistic and cutesy games taking the best of both worlds and combining them in a strange new world. If you can brave the training and learn how to manipulate the camera you will have yourself a very fun romp through a land of maniacal stuffed animals. Relying on equal parts action and puzzles, Fur Fighters does a good job at creating a playable experience that is fun for the simple gamer. That is one that does not want to be bogged down with political espionage story lines, but still wants to shoot stuff. It is a formula that is surely going to be copied with even more edge and satire. I can hardly wait for Sonic and Crash to pick up semi-automatics and go at it.

Chris Shade

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