Review: Murtop (Nintendo Switch) – Pure Nintendo

Run rabbit, run
Dig that hole, forget the sun
And when at last the work is done
Don’t sit down, it’s time to dig another one
– Pink Floyd, “Breathe”

In Murtop, you are the rabbit, and digging holes is almost all you do. This installation from Hiulit, published by Flynn’s Arcade, is a completely and delightfully old-school arcade game. While this game looks, sounds, and plays like vintage ’80s titles such as Dig Dug and Bomberman, it offers plenty of unique fun on the Nintendo Switch.

Review: Murtop (Nintendo Switch) – Pure Nintendo

Here’s the “what you get” part of the review. The graphics are retro pixelated, but not so blocky that it makes it hard to distinguish what you are seeing. The images are a bit grainy, but you can still tell what the carrots are, that you are a rabbit, and that your “little bombs” are, indeed, bombs. The game is low-res, but it makes good use of color and contrast to keep up the visual appeal. As for the sounds, they are also low-res and reminiscent of the original Mario musical score. The tune is a bit repetitive, but it isn’t distracting or annoying and it evokes the appropriate feelings of whimsy and tension.

As you dig your tunnel around the playing field, each hop clears a square of the game grid. No matter how many of the squares you dig away, you can still hop around the grid along any of the border lines between squares (up/down and left/right). The controls are very simple—the left JoyCon is how you move around, the Y button deposits a bomb on the grid. By deposit, I mean the bombs come from the bunny’s poop-chute. I know it sounds painful, but not as much as being blown up when the bomb goes off. This is your only weapon, and you need to use it carefully. When the bomb detonates, the blast travels as far as the tunnel walls will allow in a plus shaped pattern (up/down and left/right). If you are still in the path of the blast, you will die and you will see your little bunny soul float up and away. As with most classic arcade games, you get three lives, so don’t worry too much.

Now that we have a feel for the nature of the game, let’s dig into the game play. It’s a bit like a maze crawler with some enemy avoidance and elimination. The rounds will provide carrots to earn points, but the real goal is to take out all of the enemy critters within 60 seconds. Don’t worry if you get hyper-focused—the game will give you a little audio cue at the half-time mark. Like the old console games, you have to successfully complete a round to move on to the next one. When you die three times, you start over from level 1. It sometimes feels a bit repetitive starting over like that, but you do get faster at the pattern of the level.

One important thing to remember relates to your bombs. These are high explosives that can kill you as quickly as the other critters in the tunnel. Your only hope is to get out of the plus-shaped path of the explosion. Here’s the catch—when you press the Y button, you drop a bomb, but the process means you can’t move for about a second. The problem is the fuse on the bomb only lasts about a second and a half. You will need to be very careful with your timing, balancing this with the time left on the level countdown. Also, you can’t use bombs above ground. There may be a baddie topside, but you can’t bomb him—you have to lure him underground and bomb there.

Murtop looks very simple, things get tricky. Not only do you have a timer for the round and a “hare’s” breadth window to avoid blowing yourself up, there are rocks in the ground you can undermine to crush your opponents. If you delay, however,  they can also crush you. Finally, if any of the other critters catch up to you, they dispatch you with one touch. Man, it’s tough being a rabbit in this game.

If you can manage to avoid all the pitfalls, blow up the baddies quickly, and maybe gather some carrots along the way, you can work your way up to earn the big prize—your initials on the high score board. As with the original arcade games, the fun is earning bragging rights among your friends. And since the price point is pretty low, Murtop is a fun arcade style addition to your and your friends’ Switch libraries.

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