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Indie Nation #53: Rescue the Beagles

11:00 PM on 03.13.2009 // Anthony Burch

Another Friday means another Indie Nation, wherein we highlight cool, independently-made games that offer something you just can't get from the mainstream.

After last week's anti-JRPG clusterf*ck, I suggest something I hope we can all get behind: a platformer about saving puppies.

I'm not suggesting Rescue the Beagles as some sort of sarcastic, cowardly diversion in the vein of posting pictures of kittens when a forum argument has gotten too intense, but because it's surprisingly damn addictive.

Rescue the Beagles, especially when considered alongside Spelunky, proves there's a lot to be said for randomness. Originally created for TIGSource's Procedural Generation Competition, RtB hangs the simple-but-clever premise of jumping through the fore-, middle-, and background (likein  LittleBigPlanet, except it actually works in Rescue the Beagles) on a randomly generated game world. Though the randomized item drops and world geography aren't anything mindblowing, they imbue the game with enough unpredictability that it lends itself to dozens upon dozens of replays without ever really feeling stale.

An average game only takes a few minutes, but you may well be surprised to find yourself still playing hours after the initial download.

Download it, and enjoy it. Or, hit the jump for more fawning compliments.

I have a hard time mentally separating Rescue the Beagles from Spelunky. Not only because they both rely on procedurally generated levels and share a few cosmetic similarities (ropes and falling damage come to mind), but because I have similar relationships with both. Upon meeting both games, I said hello, gave them a quick download, and took them out for a few short (five to ten minute) dates that slowly turned into protracted romances as I became unable to free myself from their grasps.

It wasn't enough to just play one or two games of Rescue the Beagles; everytime I died I felt like it was my fault, and that maybe I'd learned something that would get me a little bit further. With each play, my skills and addiction grew. In both games, I became an expert at finding out exactly how far I could jump down without taking damage. I learned when to use my items, and when to save them. I spent hours with both games, until finally reaching a plateau that I simply could not get past. 

With Spelunky, it was the ice world. With Rescue the Beagles, it was the fourth or fifth level.

Feeling impotent and angry, I'd delete the game, swearing never to play it again. I'd gotten enough time out of each -- why come crawling back and subject myself to that punishment and humiliation again?

A few weeks later, I would invariably do just that. 

Gone was my naive glee at understanding new mechanics or finding new enemies, replaced with a single-minded desire to just beat the game, at all costs. Hours disappear into one another without warning as my fingers worked independently of my brain, operating on some subconscious level. The things I could be doing run through my mind once every few minutes until they're just as quickly dismissed once I make it to a new level, or die miserably and swear to improve next time. 

I eventually beat Spelunky.

I never beat Rescue the Beagles. I don't even know if it has an endpoint. I do know, however, that I haven't seen all the enemies. Though I've seen more than a few screenshots of the nefarious Primariuses, I am currently unskilled enough to actually meet one in combat. Given the game's emphasis on scoring and the lack of changing environments, I sort of assume the game will never end. Still, once I meet a Vivisector, I'll try to convince myself that I've "beaten" the game.

I'll try, anyway.

Even after beating Spelunky, I still went back and tried to open the secret rooms, then I tried to get high scores on those rooms, and even now I'll play it when I'm waiting for something else to download or if I just get mildly bored for a few seconds. I can only assume that, even after triumphing over the Primariuses, I'll return to Rescue the Beagles in much the same way. Its simplistic gameplay and ever-changing environments will call to me once more, and I will be powerless to resist.

And that's okay.


After redownloading Rescue the Beagles, I reached the levels with the Primariuses in one try. I don't remember that being so easy to do.

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