Fur Fighters: Viggo on Glass
Can this old Dreamcast game find new life on the iPad?
We're starting to get used to nice little back-catalog surprises turning up on the App Store. Back in June it was the wonderful Uplink that came out of nowhere and got us all excited, then Myst grew an extra dimension on the iPad last month. Next up, we have a Dreamcast classic Fur Fighters, rescued from the ashes of Bizarre Creations by two former developers at the studio.
Fondly remembered as much for the platform it launched on in 2000, this 3D action-platformer game also impressed gamers with its generous selection of characters, each of which bring something a little different to the third-person adventuring, and can be selected sporadically during levels.
Roofus can dig holes in the ground, while Chang can squeeze through tighter gaps, and Rico can swim underwater. If you need to scale a wall, Juliette can climb over it in short order, while the Australian Bungalow can jump higher and further than anyone else.
Spread across a series of 3D environments, it's not hard to imagine how these mechanics might be brought together as the team battle to rescue their furry families from the clutches of the thoroughly unlikeable General Viggo. Exploring pastiche locations such as the New York-esque New Quack City or Cape Canardo, the space-program inspired area, you'll need to take advantage of every character's quirks if you're to bring everyone home.
These stages are populated with various grunts and underlings of the General, and they can be dispatched with a satisfying array of weaponry, from shotguns to machines guns, flame-throwers to rocket launchers, and plenty more besides.
The disconnect between the move and look virtual sticks is rather extreme on the iPad, and you'll find yourself thumbing over and over again to get the view angle just right, while a gentle nudge moves your chosen character pretty sharply. It's a pity that there's no option to adjust control sensitivities in the option settings, and we'll have to hope that an update remedies this. Fortunately, the auto-aim is at least solid and does a good job of sorting through the targets.
As a technical proof of concept, Fur Fighters delivers in grand style. There certainly are less angular, far prettier games on the iPad, but to moan about that would be to miss the point. This is a straight port from the Dreamcast version, and the transfer is uncanny, proving that games from the much-loved, under-selling console can (publishers willing) enjoy a new lease of life. If the potential of that doesn't send ripples of excitement down your spine, then I'm sorry to say you have a heart made of stone.
This is every inch a Dreamcast-era game, albeit one using tweaked PC code, and for some that will be enough to justify the price of admission on its own. Nostalgia aside, it also can't help but remind us that in terms of content and depth, games have come a long way in the dozen or so years since the original game launched. It also serves as a reminder that while touchscreen gaming has advanced a great deal, there's still some work to be done yet.
What's Hot: A great selection of weapons mixed up with some classic console gaming.
What's Not: Cantankerous controls take the shine off the game.