Rat Attack


Review by Nathan Dunsmore

Pure Ent.


Graphics: 4

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 5

Overall: 5


Cancellations were a common sight on the N64 scene; some garnered tons of publicity (Earthbound 64), while others bit the dust with not a spec of anticipation to take to their graves. Announced in early 1998, Rat Attack didn’t catch a second of hype and soon entered a quiet catnap. Two years and nine lives later, Rat Attack peeks out of its hole in the wall and lands a less than rackety release in the N64’s twilight years.

ratattack1n64.jpg (38291 bytes)Dogs may be crowned “man’s best friend,” but when an invasion of mutated rats come out to play on Earth, the Scratch Cats, a team of forgettable felines, rise to the prowl when the rat leaders snatch one of their own.

Player’s take control of one of the six members (with two unlockable when the game is completed) of the Scratch Cats, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and attitude. The role of the rats is to demolish every last object that they can gnaw their teeth into, leaving nothing but landfills to the Earth’s dismay.

Rat Attack prances through some of the most uninspired level concepts in the world of gaming. A garden, a haunted house, a temple, the only theme missing is a snow stage. What is not an uninspired concept is the gameplay. Armed with an expandable electrical net for trapping rodents, it’s up to players in each round to capture the required amount of rats and reach the transportation pad unscathed, sending the mutated pests packing before the room is uprooted or before the time runs out.

With enough already conspiring against you, specifically colored scum are capable of summoning sometimes indestructible plagues when their own pads are activated. Effective power ups are abundant for counter clawing the vile varmints, as well as the ability to slash, stunning critters for a short period and making them vulnerable to capture. Like a sly cat, Rat Attack is all about pace and reflex. As the rounds progress, the number of rats to capture goes up, the clock winds down, the plagues get nastier, and the rats get craftier. Decisively, the game doesn’t get more endearing.

Blocky designs and colorful textures catwalk hand and hand, almost giving the empty environments that rare eye-candy appeal. As the graphics purr for attention, there is nothing for the eyes to cling to. Mutated rodents possess a choppy two-dimensional look, but the N64’s trademark blur and fogginess have been completely aired out of this game.

Tight controls are hazardously affixed to lazy camera angles. Placed at an overhead view, the camera has an unsupportive habit of zooming in and out when least essential. Once two or more players join the mouse hunt, the camera suspends too high to keep up with all the motion, creating a workout for the eyes and exterminating the entertainment when the screen becomes clustered with rats. Collision detection is sharply sensitive, slashing is trial and error, and colliding with one rat will usually ricochet you into another. Since the learning curve is slim, the difficulty resides with these camera and collision issues.

The soundtrack energetically rattles off a range of franticness and mellowness that is deeply reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoon fare. Though it slinks graciously with the graphics, for most its redundancy will loom thin on the ears. Rat squeaks are generally overused and the sound effects of environmental hazards, such as lawnmowers and vacuums, are kept to a minimum.

As great as it is not having another N64 title meet the mousetrap, Rat Attack’s innovative concept simply grows moldy, and the camera isn’t entirely at fault. Even if it’s a worthwhile game of rodent roundup for puzzlers, it’s hard to comprehend where all those years of development shenanigans went for such a nonaddictive and overly simplified game that doesn’t come remotely close to piercing the system’s hardware limitations.


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Last updated: Monday, July 17, 2006 02:02 PM