'Fur Fighters' will keep players amused

Picture the cuddly teddy bear of your childhood. Now picture it packing.

That, in a nutshell, is the premise behind "Fur Fighters," from Bizarre Creations and Acclaim, for your very own Dreamcast.

Many years ago, a band of stuffed toys battled the evil General Viggo to a standstill, halted his plans for world domination and packed him off to play a little rock hockey at the local prison.

Evil geniuses being what they are, Viggo got loose, and six pairs of beady button eyes narrowed at the news.

But it gets worse.

Viggo and his idiot bear stooges raid the Fur Fighters' retirement community and swipe their children, threatening to pull out their stuffing if anybody tries to interfere with his plans.

Threats, however, don't scare our plucky band, and they set out -- armed to the teeth -- to get the kiddies back and once more put Viggo in the pokey.

Each of the fighters -- Roofus, Juliette, Bungalow, Rico, Chang and Tweek -- has a special ability which you'll need at specific points in the game.

However, the creature you're piloting at the time may not be the right one for the job.

"Fur Fighters" solves that problem by providing teleport devices. Suppose you're playing as Roofus, a tough but amiable hound, and you need to climb a wall. Find the right teleporter and Roofus is replaced by Juliette, a stubborn but dangerous cat, who can scale that obstacle with ease.

Rico, the penguin, is good when swimming is needed. Chang, the fox, can slip through narrow areas. Bungalow, a kangaroo, is, of course, the high jump expert. And Tweek, a dragon who is less than a day old, is a glider.

The object is to reclaim the youngsters. That is complicated by the fact that only that tot's own parent can complete the rescue. That means a lot of teleporting will be going on.

Rescuing the children is important because, beyond the humanitarian issues, you have to round them up in order to move on to the next level.

You start the quest with a pistol, but there are bigger and better weapons waiting. Bomb launchers, a shotgun, a freeze gun and my personal favorite, the neutron gun, make short work of Viggo's flunkies.

This is not a simple mindless shooter, however. Each level has puzzles that must be solved, combining platform and first-person shooter into a solid, amusing package.

If you like rounding up some buddies and getting into multiplayer games, try a Fluffmatch, which lets you beat the stuffings out of your friends and neighbors.

Problems? Well, sure. The levels are huge and you spend a lot of time just running around with nothing to do. And you spend even more time backtracking to find the right teleporter to solve a particular problem.

Graphics get an A; they are crisp, cartoonishly detailed and nicely colored. Sound is a B; good for the game, nothing special. Control also gets a B, downgraded for no way to get your character to run and for the targeting system which uses the touchy joystick.

"Fur Fighters" is a solid B; not perfect but far from ordinary. It's not really a kid's game, but it will keep older kids -- and adults -- busy and amused.

"Fur Fighters" is rated T, for ages 13 and over.

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