Monday, January 28, 2013

PS1 Classic Review - Rugrats: Search for Reptar


Rugrats: Search for Reptar was a Playstation One game released back in 1998, and believe it or not, it was actually one of the games that got a lot of people to notice the PS1. Back in the 90s (and early 2000s) Rugrats was a very well known Nickelodeon cartoon, and just about everyone watched it. Kids loved it, teens loved it, and even adults loved it; it was one of the few cartoons the entire family could enjoy, and it did a lot of things most cartoons even today tend to avoid.

The show, unlike a lot of cartoons at the time, featured story progression, viewers got to see characters develop as time went on, and the show also dealt with themes such as death, and even child birth. Really the show stayed close to the real world, but they also did it in a way to avoid offending anyone, and they also kept it child friendly. The series was also well received by Christians and Jewish families as well with it's Christian and Jewish TV specials. In short, Rugrats was just about the perfect family cartoon, and the series was loved by many; so it's only natural for a video game to be based on it right?


In today's world when you hear the words "TV" or "Movie" next to the word "Game" most people will already know that it's going to be bad. The sad truth is that a lot of times Video Game companies use movies as a quick way to make a quick buck, and the games normally don't come out too good. They end up being rushed or limited by the movie's story, and a lot of the time they end up being a standard platforming game. Now sure, this isn't always the case, but it is in fact common in today's world. Well thankfully Rugrats: Search for Reptar" wasn't created in the world of today! Still, does that mean it is a good game? Well, how about we find out?

SEARCH FOR REPTAR (baah baah):

Rugrats: Search for Reptar actually opens up just like a Rugrats cartoon. The game has a video game version of the Rugrat's TV show opening, and when the game starts up it actually starts up with the well known Rugrats episode title screen. From the very start it is clear that THIS is Rugrats, and not just some game trying to be Rugrats.

The story of Search for Reptar is actually very simple, and it starts out like most TV show episodes. The babies are at Tommy's house playing like usual, and Tommy is stomping around his living room pretending to be everyone's favorite dinosaur Reptar. "Where's my Reptar puzzle!?" He roars as he stomps over to a toy Reptar. Inside the toy Reptar are pieces to a Reptar puzzle; however it seems that Tommy has lost all but a single piece. Although he is saddened by the fact that his puzzle is missing, he decides to put aside his feelings, have an adventure, and find the missing pieces!


Really the overall story is very basic, but the thing is, this is just a SMALL part of a lot of other stories! Search for Reptar just isn't a brand new Rugrats adventure, but rather a collection of most of the babies' adventures from the TV show! Every single level in this game is an episode from the show, and each one of these levels have their own story. From finding Grandpa's Teeth during the Grandpa's Teeth episode, to trying to bring the light back to the world in "Let there be Light!"

Just like in the show, the episode stories include both "actual" stories, and "adventure" stories, and they are pretty well balanced between the two. For example in the "actual" stories, Tommy and his friends are doing something in the real world (such as playing hide and go seek), while in the "adventure" stories they are going on made up adventures (such as exploring an alien space ship). For the most part these stories play out the way they did in the cartoon, but since you are in control there are bound to be some differences in them. Either way, if you have watched Rugrats, chances are you already know what you're getting yourself into with this game, and it's story.

The Gameplay:

The gameplay in Search for Reptar actually changes based on what you are doing, and because of that I will only be covering the basics in this review.

Controls -

The controls are simple. You can move with the D-Pad, Jump with the X, walk slower with square (keep in mind this was before analog sticks were used for this sort of thing), circle picks up/puts down objects, and triangle throws objects and is used to start levels (you can also use the L and R buttons for camera control). These controls are very basic controls for a game like this, but they do work pretty well. Although now days they feel a bit dated with some stiff movements, they did still do the job.

The House -

The biggest part of the gameplay, and one of the biggest features of this game is Tommy's house. This is the sort of thing you just don't normally see with today's games, and it was a dream come true for a LOT of Rugrats fans. To sum it up, Tommy's house is the hub world of this game, and you can explore every inch of it! Yep that's right! Remember all of the places you watched the babies go in the cartoon? Well now you can go there also!


Just like in the show, the house is made up of the following rooms. There's the living room with the play pen (which can be opened or closed without the use of a screw driver), there's the kitchen with the laundry room, there's the back yard, there's the hall way/office rooms outside of the kitchen (which is also where the front door is as well as the stairs to the basement and second floor), there's the basement, there's the upstairs, there's Tommy's parents room, there's his room, there's grandpa's room, there's the guest room, as well as the bathroom. Just like I said, basically every room from the cartoon is here, and you can finally explore it for yourself!

Interacting with Objects -

A big aspect of Search for Reptar is also the ability to play with the world. You can pick up toys and objects, and in a sense, play with just about everything you see. A lot of the house/world is interactive, and sometimes you will actually need to do so to complete levels. For example in "Let there be Light" you need to use flash lights to scare off the "Shadow Monster" ghosts. Although this will most likely be a completely ignored feature by most teen and adult players, it is something most kids will enjoy, and that makes it a worth wild addition to the game.

Mini Games -

Some levels of Search for Reptar are actually mini game style levels. Now although some of these really aren't worth playing more than once/are annoying (such as the circus levels mini games), some of them are actually quite good, and might keep you coming back for more; the Ice Cream Mountain stage is one of them. In this stage you get to play mini golf through a series of different courses, and it is actually pretty fun! Besides the fact that it can be played with more than one player, its a mini game that works well for single player play as well, and I personally found myself returning to it quite often back in the day. It was also something I played with my parents as well.


Reptar Bars -

Just like with most games and platforming games from the 90s, Search for Reptar also has hidden collectibles in the form of Reptar Bars. These bars are hidden allover the world, and by collecting them you can unlock some hidden bonuses.

A game EVERYONE can beat -

Although there's a wide range of levels in Rugrats, it is set up so just about anyone can beat it. Although early on your options are limited, later on a lot of levels open up and you can actually decide if you want to play them or not. You do NOT have to finish every level to get every puzzle piece, and that makes it so even younger children can make it to the end of the game. It's a pretty smart design for a kids game, and it makes it so just about anyone can enjoy it.

90s Nick and Fan Service:

Although the levels of this game are fan service alone, there's actually a lot of "fan service" hidden throughout the entire game. First of all the game actually starts up with the old "nick nick nick nick nick nick nick, Nickelodeon" show transition short, the levels and loading screens use the "baah baah" sound and show the Rugrats episode title screen, and there's a few other nostalgic little things hidden around as well; however there's a few things that really stand out, even for its time.


Even though this game actually came out before the first Rugrats movie, hidden throughout the game are little nods to it. In Tommy's room you'll find Tommy's "big boy bed" which he started sleeping in after Dil came along, and in the basement you'll see blueprints for the Reptar Wagon as well as see the Dactar glider hanging from the ceiling in the basement. These small things are actually really nice eastereggs, and some really nice fan service.

The Good and the Bad:

If you look at Rugrats: Search for Reptar from the view point of a child or a long time Rugrats fan, you will see that this game is actually pretty amazing for its time. It allowed you to enter the Rugrats world, it had hours worth of gameplay, everyone's favorite characters were there, and the game featured a wide range of gameplay types. Really it is a really good children's game, a very good TV show based game, and its the type of game you can just replay over and over again. The music was great, it was filled with fan service, and it was just a really nice Playstation One game; however that doesn't mean it doesn't have its problems.


By today's standards, the game is very dated. The 3D models really show how limited the Playstation really was, the controls can feel pretty stiff, the camera has problems at times, some of the levels are annoying and better not played, and a few of the levels felt like they were lazily designed. Chances are it isn't a game you would want to go back and play if you missed out on it the first time, but back then it was actually really good. Still times have changed, and since the show has been off the air for years, I'm pretty sure even the kids of 2013 wouldn't want to go back and play this one.

If you're a huge Rugrats fan you might want to check it out, but if not this game is better left alone. Even so, considering what this game used to be back then, I'm going to give this one a 7/10. Very dated design, but it was a really great game for its time.


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