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GamingOnLinux Reviews - Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot
Posted , 4 July 2012 at 9:47 pm UTC / 5508 views
Game Information:
Name: Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot
Released: August 26, 2005
Developer: Wolfire Games
Rating: 8/10

Hardware Specifications:
Processor: AMD Sempron 140 2.7 Ghz
Video Card: Diamond AMD Radeon HD 4670
Memory: 4 Gigabytes DDR2 1066
Hard Drive: 2 TB Western Digital Caviar Green

System Specifications:
Distribution: Fedora 16
Kernel: Linux 3.4.2
Graphics Driver: R600 Gallium3D Driver
Desktop Environment: Xfce with compositing

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There is nothing new to the idea of fighting games. Violence has, even in its most diluted and minute forms, been a strong staple in almost every game made within the past thirty years. A wide variety of titles have sprung up with the specific purpose of showcasing increasingly inventive levels of gore and destruction. So you may be forgiven for thinking that most of the avenues open for violent feats of fantasy had already been explored many times before Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot came along. But when you first discover that it quite proudly describes itself as a “Kung-Fu Rabbit Adventure Video Game”, you will start to wonder if you might have been a bit too quick in deciding that notion.

Lugaru certainly is a different beast, most notably for its choice of beasts with which you will do battle with, control and converse with throughout the game. In an apparent cross between Mortal Kombat (1992) and the film Watership Down (1978), you take the role of Turner, an anthropomorphic “crazy fighter bunny” who must avenge the death of his also strangely humanoid family and reveal a wide ranging conspiracy that threatens to undermine and destroy the entire Rabbit Republic. Yes, you did read that right, and it is the opener to one of the best fighting games available for the Personal Computer.

While fighting games have had a long history on video game consoles and arcades (it was after all games like Street Fighter (1987) and the aforementioned Mortal Kombat that helped popularize these devices and helped Sega rise to prominence despite strong competition and market domination from Nintendo due to the former's more liberal restrictions on violent and controversial content), they have only ever had a limited appeal on desktop computers. This is largely due to the differences in control schemes, with the mouse-keyboard combination offering a greater opportunity for precision but also diminishing the visceral thrill of button mashing that made fighting games on consoles so attractive.

Lugaru sets out to solve this problem by looking at the genre in a different way. Instead of relying on extensive combinations of button or key presses, Lugaru takes its own path by making use of only three context-sensitive action buttons, the effect of which varies based on the situation and Tuner's current position or status. You move in a manner similar to first-person shooter games or some other third-person adventures such as Rune (2000) by utilizing the WASD keys for movement and the mouse for orientation and attack. To attack an enemy, you simply walk up to them and hit them by pressing the left-mouse button. This admittedly simple default belies a much deeper and extensive combat system.

As well as basic movement and attack, you can also jump by pressing space and crouch by pressing shift. The crouch key can also be utilized to block or reverse enemy attacks, a trick which can come in especially handy when battling larger more powerful creatures such as wolves. From there, the success and failure of your attacks depends on your position, state and the timing of your key presses. Their usefulness does not just end there however; by utilizing different combinations of these keys you can also access a variety of others moves. My personal favourite is when you start walking while crouching, and then release the crouch key while still moving forward to begin running “animal style”. You you can then gain speed and maul over your opponents.

Some moves are also environmentally sensitive. For example, you can perform a wall jump by jumping towards a wall and pressing the jump key again upon contact to utilize your momentum to move away from the wall again at speed. This in of itself is of limited usefulness other than for showing off, but when an enemy is near a wall you can perform a wall kick by pressing the attack button upon contact as well, which can result in devastation for your opponent. Walls and heights can also be useful in other ways, as you can land on someone from above or escape an ambush by leaping above to temporary safety. Trees and rocks can also be used as cover for when you are sneaking up on your fellow varmints.

Stealth adds a whole new element to the game, allowing Turner to instantly kill opponents if timed and executed right. You can sneak simply by walking while crouched, and by doing so you can silently walk up to enemies and, if you are lucky, take them out quickly by pressing the attack key. This is generally a good idea when trying to take out enemies one by one, as it can be risky when they are formed into larger groups. Be prepared to run like hell when challenged by more than one or two foes; it is difficult but possible to loose them with enough dodging and running, especially if you zigzag and run around obstructions or jump over heights. Executing rolls while jumping and running are also good defensive tactics.

If this was not enough variety, Lugaru also has a fully developed weapon system that adds even more to the action. Your knife, which you will gain fairly early in either the Campaign or Challenge modes, is your basic utility weapon and can be used for basic slashes. By crouching and swiping you can also knock an enemy over and quickly take a powerful stab to end their lives instantly. The knife is also the only weapon or attack in the game you can use from a distance, as you can throw it if you have any enemies in range. The sword is like the knife, offering more powerful stabbing and slashing power, but can not be thrown and is more easily reversed. Both of these weapons can be sheathed and unsheathed, allowing you to decide when you choose to use them or put them aside if you chose to use another weapon or want to resort to using your paws.

The third and final instrument is a wooden Bo staff which can easily be described as the most powerful weapon in the game. With the Bo staff, you can run up to people and whack them off their feet, and once they are down you can then repeatedly whack them again and agin in a savage display of malice until you are satisfied they will never be able to raise their furry little heads again. The Bo staff has very few drawbacks, but it can unfortunately break fairly easily, though this only happens during active combat. You can spend an infinite amount of time whacking an adversaries brains out once they are dead and the staff will continue to hold up fine throughout the entire ghastly performance.

The bodies of your foes themselves can also act as a fourth weapon, by crouching and pressing the attack button you can chuck them at speed in the faces of your opponents. If they are the right distance away, this can mean certain death. If they are not, you can at least be sure that you knocked the wind out of them. I won an entire map in this fashion, using one corpse specifically placed at an intersection of several of the antagonist rabbit's patrols. Basic attacks can also be enhanced using supplied weapons, such as the sneak attack, which normally would result in Turner flipping the enemy over, breaking their back. If you have a knife in hand, you get to see the even more gruesomely rewarding spectacle of Turner holding the knife to the enemies throat, and then quickly slicing it, with the triumphant message of “Tracheotomy” displaying on the screen.

If all of this seems like too much, or you could not be bothered to read the last few paragraphs, have no fear. Lugaru comes with a full in-game tutorial to help prepare you for the fight ahead, and it does a good job covering the fundamentals and introducing you to some of the more advanced moves. That being said, do not expect to learn the game overnight. I have been playing the game for well over a year now and still have not come close to mastering all the nuances of Ninja rabbit combat. From the tutorial on, you have the choice of the Campaign, which will give you a proper introduction to the game world, and the Challenge modes, which allows you to battle your way through fourteen separate missions, with each being of increasing difficultly.

All of this is the brain child of David Rosen, who became well known in the independent gaming community beforehand for his entries into various game development contests. Some of these games, such as Black Shades (2002) and be downloaded for free online and even have some community enhanced versions. Rosen would then create his first commercial game, Lugaru, while still in high school. Upon its release for Mac OS X on January 28, 2005 and Microsoft Windows on May 10, 2005, it soon met with success and, despite suggestions by some that these people were merely “furries” from those who continue to fail to be amusing, it soon grew a cult following. Respected coder Ryan C. Gordon would later port the game to Linux, with the original port being released on August 26, 2005.

From there, several fan campaigns and mods have been produced with one in particular, a set of high-definition textures for the game created by Tim Soret, later being officially incorporated into the currently sold version, titled as Lugaru HD. Wolfire Games would also in 2010 devise the Humble Indie Bundle and, alongside many of the other games included in that multi-platform package deal, would have its source code released under the GNU General Public License on May 11, 2010. In many ways, the Humble Indie Bundles have become the games most lasting legacy, as if it were not for its initial success, Wolfire would likely never have conceived or would have even been able to attempt such an idea.

Returning to the game itself, I mentioned that the game had two modes, the Campaign mode and the Challenge mode. The Campaign mode can be toggled by selecting various missions from the menu that appear as dots on a large display of Lugaru Island. Those dots correspond with the locations of each mission, as it is from here where you discover the game's plot. The game starts off with you and the rest of your family and friends hanging out near a large rock structure. You can talk to and interact with your fellow rabbits by walking up to them and pressing the attack key, and they will tell you various scraps of information, setting up the plot for the events to come. The plot itself is surprisingly rich given the premise, although it is not always implemented with the most skill at times.

Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, gamer, writer, and farmer currently living in Alberta, Canada. He is a strong advocate of both DRM free Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and more information on him can be found at his icculus.org hompage where he lists everything he is currently involved in.

Comments on this article are now closed.
Cheeseness commented on 4 July 2012 at 11:57 pm UTC

Fantastic review, Hamish

Fantastic review, Hamish :D
0 Likes
whizse commented on 6 July 2012 at 7:36 pm UTC

Agreed, this is a phenomenally well-written review! Can we expect more of these?

Agreed, this is a phenomenally well-written review! Can we expect more of these? :)
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Hamish commented on 6 July 2012 at 11:45 pm UTC
  • Editor

Check the Shoutbox, I stayed up rather too late last night working on another one. No promises on when I feel it is ready to be posted though.

Check the Shoutbox, I stayed up rather too late last night working on another one. No promises on when I feel it is ready to be posted though. ;)
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whizse commented on 7 July 2012 at 7:26 pm UTC

Have you had a chance to check out Overgrowth? I know it's too early to do a review, but I expect one could write quite a lot about it already.

Have you had a chance to check out Overgrowth? I know it's too early to do a review, but I expect one could write quite a lot about it already.
0 Likes
Hamish commented on 8 July 2012 at 4:35 am UTC
  • Editor

Nah, in general I do not do pre-orders (just a personal thing), and Overgrowth has only been on Linux for a few months.

Nah, in general I do not do pre-orders (just a personal thing), and Overgrowth has only been on Linux for a few months.
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