What’s Shmup, Doc?
It’s c-c-c-cute-’em-up time in the Arcade Archives! This week’s offering from the retro lovers over at Hamster Corporation is certainly something of shmup oddity: Bally Midway’s Rabio Lepus, which is available to download right now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Launching in the coin-op market in 1987, Rabio Lepus (also known in international territories as Rabbit Punch) is an early entry in the cute-’em-up subgenre and is considered an early precursor to Midway’s highly popular ’90s franchise Sonic Wings. Rabio Lepus is a high-fantasy adventure that sees two robo-rabbit vessels, (the titular “Rabio & Lepus”), jet into battle on a brave mission to rescue the land’s ruler, King Kitashirakawa, and his two bunny girl daughters, Komomo & Kotomi, from a nefarious alien force.
Check out the adorable rescue mission in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber ShiryuGL.
Like most titles in the genre, Rabbit Punch features large, colorful sprites battlings on equally colorful sci-fi horizons, taking on wave after wave of non-sequitur enemies including golem warriors, metallic cats, demonic elements, and giant demon head with a worm for a tongue. As you might have noticed, this entry isn’t quite as cartoonish as Konami’s Parodius or NMK’s Hacha Mecha Fighter, but it still holds its own in the field of odd design. The international edition of the game removes the bunny girl princesses entirely. Spoilsports.
Rabio Lepus would find its way onto the home market in the form of 1990 PC Engine revamp Rabio Lepus Special, which sports expanded gameplay, new modes, enemies, and weapons. When Bally Midway’s Sonic Wings series finally took flight, our long-eared heroes, (and the princesses), were not forgotten, making several cameo appearances in tribute to the franchise’s humble origins.
Rabio Lepus is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.