Beyond Murtop’s cutesy exterior lies a ridiculously hardcore experience; it’s a deliberate throwback to the coin-munching arcade titles of the early 80s.

Is it worth playing though? Let’s find out!

You’re probably getting major Dig Dug vibes from the screenshots of Murtop; that’s definitely no accident, as the game does style itself quite intentionally after Namco’s classic, iconic arcade game.

However, there’s also a less visually obvious inspiration for Murtop’s gameplay – in the form of Bomberman.

That’s right, Murtop is essentially a mashup of Dig Dug’s subterranean monster bashing – and boulder dropping – with Bomberman’s frantic, explosive action.

Your rabbit character drops bombs from its butt and, just as is the case with Bomberman – you have to be extremely careful to endure you don’t blow yourself up with your own bombs.

The difficulty ramps up every five levels too, with a pseudo-boss type stage with a very hectic mole – who’s rather handy with a boulder.

There’s precious little time to get out of the way of bombs or that aforementioned boulder; in fact, most of the time your loss of life will likely be due to friendly fire and the slightly unresponsive feel of the controls themselves.

It’s a little frustrating, in all honesty – the action can be so frantic and the bombs so quickly detonated that you never quite feel like you have enough time to deal with everything thrown your way.

That is ever more the case as you progress through the game’s generous number of 250 stages, the difficulty level of which ramp up extremely quickly.

That would all be fine if the controls were as responsive as they needed to be – after all, having grown up on 80s arcade and console games, I’m no stranger to sky high difficulty levels right from the start – but sadly, that’s not the case.

Though extra elements and enemies are layered on as you progress – and, in fairness, Murtop is pretty generous with continues – unfortunately the levels don’t take long to start feeling somewhat repetitive.

It’s a shame, because Murtop is a lovingly crafted game in terms of its aesthetics, ambience and features – it even has a vertical, TATE-mode, for example – it almost does feel like a lost relic of the classic arcade era, albeit one that’s a bit slicker and more vibrantly colourful than games such as Dig Dug.

It does have, however, a very low price – and does hold some appeal, however short lived that may be.

If the controls had been a little tighter and there’d been a bit more variance in its Dig Dug-style stages, it would have been an easier game to recommend.

As it is, Murtop is an interesting combination of two different games, but one that just stops short of being as compelling as the classics that influenced it.

Many thanks to publisher Flynn’s Arcade for providing me with a code for the Switch version of Murtop for review purposes. Murtop is available from the 18th of May 2023 for Switch and Steam.

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