Rascal

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Rascal
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Tank Controls are not suited for a platforming game
Genre: Platform
Platforms: Playstation
Release Date: March 31st, 1998
Developer: Travellers Tales
Publisher: Psygnosis


Rascal (known as Bubblegun Kid in Japan) is a 3D platformer that was released for the original Playstation in 1998. It was developed by Traveller's Tales and published by Psygnosis.

Plot

Professor Casper Clockwise is in his lab making the final adjustments to his time travelling device, but a large shadow creeps up behind him. Meanwhile, his son Callum "Rascal" Clockwise is walking through a secret route under the house to get to his father's lab when suddenly the lights go out and an alarm sounds. Rascal rushes down to see the problem, but to his horror two aliens in spacecraft appear and chase him down the corridor.

Rascal finally makes it to his father's lab by going through the safe door entrance. He sees Chronon the evil master of time torturing his dad and holding him at gunpoint with another of his dad's inventions called the "Bubble Gun", but the villain accidentally activates the controls for the time machine and he and the Professor are sucked into the portal. The Bubble Gun manages to be released from the portal and lands at Rascal's feet, he picks it up, vowing to save his dad.

Why It Sucks

  1. Executive Meddling: During development, Rascal was designed to use normal analog control, however the publisher demanded to change the control scheme to tank controls, which are ill-suited for a platforming game. It makes controlling Rascal stiff and awkward, which in turn makes even the most basic of jumps frustrating.
    • You have to wait for Rascal to slow down to a complete stop before turning him around otherwise he'll keep running, even if you've let go of the forward button.
    • The tank controls also make it near impossible to dodge projectile attacks.
  2. Broken camera that often doesn't let you see where you're supposed to go.
  3. The graphics in the opening FMV look worse than the in-game graphics (everyone apart from Chronon literally looks like a blob of polygons).
  4. The in-game graphics themselves aren't much to look at; every level is a decent looking but generic indoor environment split into several tiny rooms, the lighting is often so dark you can barely make out anything and the characters and enemies (one of the selling points on the back of the box says they were made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop) all look either generic, ugly or both.
  5. The game over screen has without question the worst graphics in the entire game.
  6. There's only five levels but the game makes you go through each of them three times (each level has a past, present and future version) in order to pad out the length. Even with all the padding the game can be completed in little over an hour if the player has the whole game memorised and can put up with the controls.
    • Once you complete a level's present version you can't go back to it, so if you happen to finish the last level of the game while low on lives it becomes impossible to get more lives.
  7. You're immediately thrown into the game's hub level after the title-screen (which appears over literally the first frame of the game) with no clear indication of what to do/where to go.
  8. Much like Bill and Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure the game doesn't allow you to choose which of the levels to play first.
  9. You get three lives and no continues, and extra lives are very rare.
  10. The game can only be saved in the hub and you have to go to a specific part of the hub to even access the load/save options at all, this can easily be forgotten by the player which could cause them to accidentally lose all their progress.
    • It is even possible for the game to lock up and say "No controller connected" when you try to save, causing you to lose your progress even when you remember to save.
  11. Rascal's weapon is lame (a gun that shoots bubbles?), is weak against enemies and is almost impossible to aim due to the terrible controls and lack of any sort of targeting/lock-system or first-person view. You run out of long-range ammo very quickly, after which you switch to a short-range ammo that's even worse.
  12. The ground-pound is only useful for killing smaller enemies which is difficult due to their small size and speed.
  13. Parts of some levels are unnecessary to completing the level and can be skipped by just going back the way you came in.
  14. Rascal can only take a few hits from enemies before he dies and lava/water can kill him in just a couple of submersions.
  15. Rascal takes damage from touching the surface of water even though in parts of the same level he can swim underwater just fine.
  16. Many enemies never stop spawning.
  17. The soundtrack is mostly just mediocre (with a couple of exceptions), the main problem with a lot of the songs is that the instrumentation sounds very off-key.
  18. Sometimes enemies drop damaging pick-ups when killed.
  19. All five of the future levels and the final level after the Corridor of Time consist of the same easy boss fight with Chronon and in the same tiny area that's supposed to be the world having been destroyed but just looks like an ordinary quarry.
    • The Chronon boss fight is used six times.
  20. Unsatisfying ending.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The idea of revisiting levels in the present with the layout changed is a creative idea.
  2. The game's frame rate ran at 60fps without any stuttering. This was very impressive for a PlayStation game in 1998.
  3. This game also had shining reflections on suits of armor and shields. This was also unheard of for it's time.
  4. Rascal is so 90s-looking it can come off as charming.
  5. It was one of the few 3D platformers with non-noticeable dynamic loading times.

Reception

This game received mixed to overwhelmingly negative reviews, as it is also often considered to on par with Bubsy 3D in terms of awfulness.

This game, along with some of Psygnosis' other poorly performing titles such as Retro Force, O.D.T., Formula 1 98 and Attack of the Saucerman!, contributed to Psygnosis' downfall before they were fully absorbed by Sony in the Summer of 1999, in when their distribution duties for the PAL markets were handed over to them.

SomecallmeJohhny said: "If you want a textbook example of how not to do a 3D platform game that isn't Bubsy 3D, you look at this."

The game's director Jon Burton stated that he wanted the game to have proper analog controls. However, the publisher demanded them to use tank controls in an attempt to mirror the success of the Tomb Raider franchise or they would refuse to publish the game. This was ultimately why everyone else on the team virtually gave up and threw the game together. They knew it was going to be a disaster.

Videos

Comments


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WG8686

17 months ago
Score 5
Rascal on the game cover, almost looks similar to the Fallout Guy
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Lake's Wild World

8 months ago
Score 1
This game had quite a bit of potential. I kinda wish this game was good.
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Obi-Wan Skywalker86

4 months ago
Score 0
Or average at best.
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Pacsonic9000

4 months ago
Score 0
I think a director's cut of this game would be a good idea with fixing the game's problems and even using analog controls.
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Master Chief

4 months ago
Score 0
Maybe Jon can make another Director's Cut patch for this game like he did for Sonic 3D Blast and make it better, because Jon even admitted that letting the team use tank controls was probably one of his biggest regrets.

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