Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rabio Lepus Special (PC Engine)

Checkpoints OFF/ON
1 Difficulty level
6 Stages (loopable)
Ship speed fixed
- - - - - - -
Developed by Video System
Published by Video System in 1990

For a little while I was thinking how rude Video System was to PC Engine fans. Why did the company give them Rabio Lepus Special, a rearranged version of their first shooter, instead of making a port for Sonic Wings? And then I figured the PC Engine was probably out of the mainstream curve by 1992, the year Sonic Wings hit the arcade scene... Rabio Lepus Special is from 1990, and a brief look upon some screenshots doesn’t give away the differences from arcade and console variations of the game starring a flying rabbit. That says a lot about how simple the original is, which leaves some room for the PC Engine iteration to shine on its own merits even if it’s just in a faint glow of obscurity.

No hints to the story exist before you start the game, but the shooting bunny is actually on a mission to rescue a royal family kidnapped by a dark villain. In between some of the stages you get a glimpse of them amidst a few lines of Japanese dialogue (the game was never released in the West). The rabbit’s arsenal consists of a single shot (button II), an assortment of homing missiles (button I) and his bare, glove-clad hands. The single shot can’t be upgraded but you can acquire more homing missiles by taking the correct item, whereas if you’re shooting the act of punching happens automatically whenever an object or enemy is at point-blank distance (hence the original’s Western title of Rabbit Punch). The punching thing is what makes this game unique, but using it requires a certain bit of practice because it’s really easy to get hit and die.

A snippet of the first stage
(courtesy of YouTube user Encyclopegames)

Every life comes with three health cells, so unless you take a carrot to restore an empty cell you’ll die on the third hit and get sent back to a previous checkpoint (there’s no partial damage anymore, therefore no carrot shower at the end of the level). On his way across outer space, satellite caves, a planet’s surface and the enemy’s lair the bunny hero is able to find carrots and other items inside static spinning barrels. You must shoot or punch the barrels to release the items, nothing comes out if you just touch or ram into them. Besides extra missiles and carrots for health there are also money (extra points), a red raccoon (a generously long period of invincibility) and a yellow ribbon (increases the power and duration of the homing missile attack).

Looking at Rabio Lepus Special more closely we can see that it lacks the intensity of the arcade while having fewer details, but nevertheless the game preserves the original style and feel with good results. Not only do the main inputs and most gameplay devices make the transition intact (only the spring effect is missing), but the enemy cheapness is also duly reproduced. This means you won’t go very far just by reacting to whatever comes at you while the screen scrolls. Certain enemy attacks will hit you no matter what you do unless you’re cleverly positioned or use a homing missile to proactively take care of them. There’s no going around this aspect of the gameplay, and in order to enjoy the game you must accept it. When you do that Rabio Lepus Special becomes less of an annoyance, turning into a manageable challenge once you notice that you don’t need to be stingy with the homing missiles.

Stage structure is where the biggest departure from the original lies. Earlier levels are the longest ones, and as the game draws to a close Video System gets shamelessly lazy: the last two stages (out of six) are just made of previously seen bosses (except for the final boss). The boss rush seems to have been split just so we wouldn’t notice how short the game actually is, even with the uneven stage lengths. With three bosses, the 2nd level is the longest one, while the 3rd and 4th go by really quickly due to the fast scrolling. Of course it takes lots of attempts and solid memorization to handle the ridiculous speed of some enemies. Floors and ceilings don’t do any damage but walls are just as harmful as the next jumping fish. At least health is fully restored when you start a new stage, and whatever items you had are properly carried over.

Where have I seen this before?

Digging a little deeper for details gives a bit more substance to Rabio Lepus Special. For instance, preserving health is better for scoring because each extra carrot is worth 2.000 points. Punching a barrel that’s closer to the bottom of the screen is the most guaranteed way to get the corresponding item, otherwise it will just land off-screen or inside a wall. A lost power ribbon drifts slowly to the left, so by all means try to take it again you if lose it: more powerful missiles make a huge difference in survival, especially because they are capable of smashing stuff that’s normally indestructible (such as the crystals in stage 4). And don’t underestimate the power of your fists, even some bosses can be punched in the face for faster and cleaner kills. By the way, the biggest part of the fun is in figuring out boss patterns and how to deal with them.

Even though Rabio Lepus Special is underwhelming in many aspects, it should at least be commended for having a more fitting soundtrack than its source. Given the game’s short duration, the lack of extra lives and extends isn’t such a constraint (more continues and other tweaks can be added by means of simple tricks). Thanks to the absence of any proper message during the end credits, the first couple of times I beat the final boss I failed to notice there was a second loop with a slightly different color palette, more bullets and much stronger enemies.

And this is my best score, reaching stage 2-1:


  1. Wow, your cranking them out. I thought today as I fired up this page "No way he'd have another surprise fast 1cc done today?" But *BAM* Here's another one.

    Nah, PC-Engine had release up until 95. Well, PC-Engine CD at least. Just PCE up until... Well, it was still doable for Hue Card by 1992 & even 3 maybe, though streatching it a bit more? Plus it would of fared better one PCE or CD then SNES.

    Ah, this is because you still only consider the regular PCE just an ol' 8 Bit system, isn't it? Well if it is, because you're probably thinking of it's 8-Bit main CPU like others, then so is the SNES. As the PCE CPU I hear is faster is not just as capable at managing the system then SNES. But both these systems put all their effort into their graphics hardware. And survied quite well because of it. ... If folks were told that SNES was just a barely upgrade 8-Bit CPU, it might of lost a lot of pull in the Bit wars too, just like the PCE, sadly. Luckly Japanese knew better.

    The only thing holding back the PCE is that Hue card were generally a tad smaller the Sega Genesis carts overall. Plus both these cart types where getting bigger as time passed and the PCE started & finished earlier then Genesis. Though shmup wise, they both finished around the same time (ditto for SNES too), sadly. While the CD went on for a few more (Sapphire was '95, no?), thankfully. Why Genesis shmups tend to be bigger overall then PCE. ie. Heavy Unit 3 megs VS 4 megs. Twin Cobra 2 VS 5. Raiden 6 VS 8. Aero Blaster, Daisenpuu & Tatsujin are the same though. Parodius PCE & SNES the same too, at 8 megs, but the SNES team managed to compress better or something cause it's got more levels, so don't ask me what happened there?

    At least you look at the PCE CD as 16-Bit, I get the feeling? And hey, guess what? The PCE can pretty much do what the PCE CD does too, if it had that insane amount of game data space. As the extra RAM from the CD upgrade cards don't effect PCE as much since streaming data off the Hue card is way faster then CD. Why RAM is so important in CD consoles. So it can store more detailed graphics without having to load more or streaming it. And streaming at 1x speed of the PCE CD must be pretty rough. So I take it's mostly, if not always, avoided? Hence Daisenpuu for PCE CD has levels broken up for load screens + way less detailed then Hue card so it can all fit. Side Arms is in lower resolution then the Hue Card to save on space too. Things the RAM upgrade card would of fixed if programed for.

    Well, hope I didin't bore you? I just know how much you love this stuff. XD I just got into the PCE thanks to it's huge & very awesome shmup library & must day I'm hooked to this amazing tinny beast. It now beats the SNES from #2 fave spot, but Genesis is still my #1 Bit console. ;) Saturn my all time fave, by the way.

    K, thanks to you, I'm in the mood for some Rabio Lepus Special shooting action! Laters.

    - Sinful

    1. Weeeee...............
      I think I need to research more before stating things about consoles.... I meant the PC Engine was "probably" going downhill by 1992, and I do consider it to be in the same level of the MD and the SNES.
      Tell me later how your time with Rabio Lepus Special went! :)

    2. OK, I have no idea how you managed to get into this game. Then I realized you started with the Arcade version. So off to MAME I go. Now here we go, cause now this feels like a shooter for starters. Unlike the PCE which just feels like ... some managing your rockets game thingy? With a peashooter that's just for show. >_<

      I could see myself getting into fully 1cc'ing the Arcade one day. Tried going back to it revitelized with some love for the franchise thanks to the AC version, but no way. I'm permanently done with this version for quite some time. Never though I'd ever be so final, as it goes so against what I now believe with gaming, but... this game scared me away like no other. I'm much happier with XDRay for Genesis. Or even a Pack in Video game for PCE, lol. ... If only it at least felt like a Shooting game...

      When I made it past first boss in PCE version I was shocked. Thought I was gonna be stuck there for awhile at first. Made as far as part the mid boss of second level. By your description, I've made it past half the game... I'm fine with that! :D

      - SInful

  2. So happy I came across this blog. I know what I'll be reading for the next while

    1. Yeah. it's great! I'm hooked. Every time I try a shooter and it's covered here, I come back here again to see what he said about it again? As I start beating games more, I'm gonna hunt Edward down for his hi-scores and put some pressure on him. Ah, ha, ha, ha!!!

      ... darn it... I feel like I have to play this silly Rabio Lepus Special again to give it another shot? Edward! What have you done?! ... why couldn't it have been a more fun game :( ... still doubt it'll grab my interest, though...

      - Sinful

    2. Hey, only now I noticed this post.
      Please do try to beat my scores! And let me know!

  3. Nice review and game clear! I have and play PC Engine games regularly, so I have this game for the PC Engine, and man, is it hard! I got frustrated with it after a while, but I'd like to think that I'll eventually get back to this game one of these days.

    For Mr. PCE aficionado, you said that you had just recently discovered the majesty that is PC Engine/Turbografx-16. There is a great website for you to check out -

    1. Speak of the Devil. I just actually finally signed up there yesturday. Still no admin reply email to approve me in yet. Reason why I finally signed up is cause I can't see the forum otherwise. And in the special Feature on PCE Arcade aspet ratio, I see Raiden PCE CD mentioned but no code written?! So I want to check the forums to see if it's true & a code does exist? As GameFAQ & rest of the net don't have it, and cause Raiden for PCE clearly has a stretched aspect ratio when checking out the PCE VS Genesis VS SNES featuire on there too. So if there is no code, I'm gonna force that apsect ratio via emulator myself. But the extra higher resolution from a code would be nice too...

      So frustration got the better of you too, lol. Yeah, I've since tried to no miss the first stage with zero luck. Made it to the last boss at least. But man, so many ways to die, lol, and touching the wall deaths seems so sudden/easy to do, shocking, and then very depressing. >_<

      Yeah, the PCE. Can't believe how much more awesome it is then I originally thought? When I first seen Darcula X I thought it was for PC. What else could PCE mean, lol. And the graphics looked out of this world & very Arcade style too. When I found out it was a Turbographics game, I was blown away?!!

      As a Sega Genesis fan I can very easily relate to PCE too. They both seem to get picked on for graphics & sound. Yet these are two areas I actually prefer over the SNES, as crazy as it sounds, it's true. I like the bolder colour pallete from a total of over 500 colours total then the way many more of the SNES which leaves a lot of crappy in between faded like colours. And their music is very unique. I also like ithat these two systems have very Arcade like graphics, something the SNES lacks in a big way.

      Anyways, I've also seen a lot of TurboViews episodes too. That guy is so awesome and he too like Edward seriously plays the games he reviews a lot. So I can respect his reviews too. Edward needs to check em out, at least the STG reviews. They're really great. Watch them more then once every once in awhile. :)

      - SInful

    2. I've seen lots of those Turboviews in the past and I also like them. I haven't seen much as of late, since most of the channels I used to like somehow faded. Snowcon's videos were very good and informative as well.
      Speaking of reviews, in recent times I have only really seen STGweekly and Game Sack.