THQ makes a killing on Game Boy games, and it’s not just because they work hard to snag the big licenses like Disney and the RugRats, they also make some good Game Boy games. The RugRats Movie game is a platform hopping adventure where the player gets to control all of the diaper clad RugRats and guide them through the same locations as were featured in the movie: the house, the hospital, the forest, etc.
Despite my ingrained dislikes of frustrating platform hopping adventure games and of smelly diapers, I have come to admire this little game. It is a top notch example of Game Boy platforming, both graphically and audibly, which albeit isn’t saying much. Even more impressive, the developers have taken that wretchedly fatiguing platform gameplay and given it a little twist. The levels are full of items to collect (nothing new here) and also full of dangers like spiders, monkeys, boulders and rats (nothing new here), not to mention vehicle levels such as mine carts (nope, not new either). However, what I haven’t encountered before is that it isn’t enough just to safely traverse the level, the babies have to collect minimum numbers of items, and often a special item to open the gate to the next level. Also, the babies are not able to combat or defeat the dangers in any fashion. In true crybaby, toddler fashion, they must avoid them while collecting the bottles, rattles, keys and so on that comprise the desirable objects. These objects are plentiful enough, but so are the dangers and each contact with a danger causes a RugRat to fumble all of the items that he or she was carrying. Thus, even though the levels are restricted in size by Game Boy limitations, the time that it takes to complete them and the amount of platform hopping (and in my case frustration and cursing) that you can get in is much greater than in many similar adventures. There are even higher difficulty levels to try if you get feeling cocky.
I really only have one actual complaint, and that is that the camera follows the character too slowly. Whenever the character changes direction, there is a lag period when everything in front of you is off screen. This causes even more frustrating brushes with enemies and fumbles of the precious objects.
In the end, despite interesting twists on gameplay and excellent craftsmanship, RugRats is still a dull platformer made doubly dull by the inability to combat the plentiful enemies. The added twist of having to re-traverse the same areas looking for items again and again will either increase your enjoyment or your frustration depending on how much you like platform hopping. RugRat enamoured children will get their parents' money's worth. Everyone else steer clear.