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If you head over to Google right now and run a search for Rabbit Rush you’ll find… absolutely nothing, because it’s no longer available. But if it were available, you’d find one of the most interesting games you’d ever play.
It goes like this.
Rabbitville is overpopulated, and it’s your job to command its excess rabbits and conquer neighbouring towns. It’s very simple – click on the rabbits here then drag to a nearby building, and you see them moving. They fill up the building and it’s yours. If the building is occupied by another town’s rabbits, send more of your own to take it over.
Then onto the next one, and the next one. It’s so gloriously compulsive. The glowing lights, the sounds, the cheer of your rabbits when they take a house, the flare when you grab a power-up. It entrances you as you spread your little empire.
But before long, someone sends you a message – “hey how’s it going” – and they say, click on the carrot in the store for a quick hack.
Once you do, the game breaks and you exit into this eerie arcade. You find these notes scattered around from a dear friend you keep missing, and outside, a line of shops light up as you pass – “all that you see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
What follows is a dream sequence based around different forms of media – some are types of games, others are types of photography or literature, and so on. As you cycle through these different scenarios, you learn more about your relationship with your missing friend, as the world repeats and degrades. Every now and again you return to the arcade game, Rabbit Rush, to find some solace, but always it’s more warped, more traumatic.
It’s only a short game but it’s so full of joy, sadness, hope, and paranoia. Each transition from one media form to the next carries such a complexity of emotion.
I love this game for how it uses the form of each sequence to convey a narrative of self-discovery and the dangers of retreating into nostalgic dreams of the past.
Stephen Beirne talks for two or so minutes on one of the best missing games from the past ten years, Rabbit Rush.
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Composed By: Kavinksy
Composed By: Susumu Hirasawa
Album: Philosopher’s Propeller