Radical Rabbit Stew is an interesting proposition, mixing puzzling action with some comedy violence to make a delicious mixture, best served on an Xbox near you. Coming from Pugstorm, Radical Rabbit Stew is a retro-styled action puzzler with cute pixel graphics, a whole universe of rabbits to see off and fast-paced action from start to finish. At least, that’s what it promises. The question is, can the game live up to expectations?
The story of Radical Rabbit Stew is suitably bonkers, with a whole gang of the universe’s best chefs being kidnapped by some dastardly rabbits. The story is presented in an amusing series of still images, thoughtfully narrated by a rabbit, and it transpires that the only person left free when the rabbits attacked was a lowly kitchen boy. Seizing a wooden spoon, our hero swears that he will avenge this dishonour and free his chef friends, while spanking all kinds of bunnies along the way.
And there is quite a selection to choose from! Rabbits come in many different flavours, from small, cute fluffy ones, through giant rabbits that need a special spoon and a powered up attack to use, to bunnies that look like they are made of stone and explode after being hit. There are many more after that too.
The purpose of the game is for our hero to gently “encourage” the rabbits on a level into one of the many casserole pots dotted around. These pots are rocket powered, for some reason, and once a rabbit is knocked into it it blasts off into outer space. Now, in order for the rabbits to go into the casseroles, they have to be smacked with a spoon, which will not only stun them (and since these rabbits appear to be carnivorous, that’s always a good thing) but will blast them through some walls, off spring pads and finally into the target pot. Setting up trick shots with rabbits is encouraged, and there’s nothing funnier then getting a rabbit stuck between two spring loaded bounce pads, watching it get faster and faster as it bounces before exploding.
Now, the challenge in Radical Rabbit Stew is that every level is different, and there are a lot to choose from. As you’d expect, early levels are pretty straightforward, acting as a warm up to the later levels which get very challenging indeed. In the later stages of level two, for instance, not only do you have to deal with the killer bunnies but bombs being fired from cannons and exploding rabbits as well, to name but a few. Luckily the spoon can whack bombs away just as easily as rabbits, so hopefully you can keep your immediate area relatively explosion free. Figuring out how to get the rabbits to the pots, while avoiding them vanishing off screen, drowning, being blown up or just plain missing the target is where the challenge comes in. And as an extra layer of complexity, there are also some blue coins to collect on a lot of the levels, usually requiring you to break down a wall with a rabbit or a bomb. Grabbing all of these is a puzzle in itself, never mind the bunnies and their destinations.
Luckily, as you continue on your journey you’ll find new tools to help you out. These range from an upgraded spoon that allows you charge attacks and not only move the heaviest bunnies, but also bounce yourself off the spring loaded buffers to cross large gaps; you’ll also find a grabbing spoon, which allows you to grab either blocks and cross gaps, or can be used to grab rabbits and drag them across gaps too. New spoons and also extra hearts – allowing our hero to survive more hits – are found in large casserole pots after a set number of levels have been completed, and these are always a welcome break from the action.
The other thing that appears after a set number of levels are the obligatory bosses. Each stage seems to have two – a mid-level “mini” boss (not really that mini, to be honest!) and an end of level, defeat-me-to-free-one-of-your-friends type boss. These are a varied bunch, with equally varied tactics needed in order to beat them, whether that be hitting other rabbits into them, hitting them with their own bombs, or even derailing trains in order to beat them into submission. These bosses are really quite challenging, and require a good amount of thinking in order to take them down.
Couch co-op is included in the package as well, and racing around a maze, trying to pot the rabbits before your friends do, is quite good fun. The game runs just as smoothly when playing with other real people as it does in single player, and all in all it is a great way to settle arguments about whose turn it is to do the washing up.
So, what we have here is a lovingly crafted puzzle game with real pick up and play mechanics, but with the hook to try and get past the next level to see what’s around the corner. The constantly evolving bunny threat, your expanding arsenal and variety of level sizes – from large and scrolling to basically fighting in a phone box – keeps the game feeling fresh and never less than challenging. If I’m picky, the levels do get a bit samey after a while, but other than that the time I’ve spent with Radical Rabbit Stew on Xbox One I’ve really enjoyed. If you like puzzles, or hitting rabbits with spoons, give it try.