Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out: Rap Rat The Video Board Game

“...Deep under Arfon’s studio lies an extensive collection of random artefacts thirty years in the making. His robotic assistant Omnibot has been assigned the mammoth task of excavating the collection. What will Omnibot uncover today...!”

Omnibot found another curio for our eBay shop, this time it’s from 1992... Back in the early 90’s an Australian company, Couple 'A Cowboys (originally a television production company established in 1983 by Phillip Tanner and Brett Clements) was making waves in the board games market (a market that had previously struggled to compete with the highly lucrative video gaming market) with their new interactive VHS board game Nightmare (known as Atmosfear here in the UK). The board game incorporated the home VHS player, a host on screen would ‘interact’ with the players cracking jokes and throwing insults!  When it was released in Australia in 1991 it was an instant hit, selling one hundred thousand units in its first year alone (five times more than Trivial Pursuit). Backed by a heavy television and cinema marketing campaign and promotional Dance Parties the game broke all records for board games and by the mid 1990’s it was the most successful advanced board game in history and with the international acclaim it gained it became Australia’s biggest entertainment export since Crocodile Dundee! (I covered this game in more detail in a previous post, find the link here) Although the follow up games were doing equally well, Couple 'A Cowboys tried out another line, aimed at a younger audience...  

Rap Rat on screen despite the VHS not actually being in the VCR....  
For many years we visited the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show as a family and for many of those years I frequented the acres of stalls they had there. I would spend hours weaving through various marquees and promotional stalls, each one with representatives pushing their products and I was always happy to take whatever free sample, promotional sticker, hat or Logobug they had. One time I was approached by a woman who asked if I wanted to play, “a game?” thinking nothing of it (simpler times!) I asked “What sort of game?” “It’s called Rap Rat!” she said, “it’s a new game and we are looking for 4 players to play it” she pointed to the stall she represented and I moved closer to it. It was a very unassuming marquee with a table and a game set up for 4 players in the middle but on both sides of the tent were TV sets playing footage of a puppet rat with a Max Headroom like stutter, already familiar with the Atmosfear game and the whole VHS game format I was intrigued, I took an interest in the video and game’s packaging as they tried to round up another 3 players to play this game for two to six kids who “just want to have FUN!” we were promised a “RAT-tastic” time and plenty of “RAT ‘n’ Roll” with its illustrated game board, coloured dice, 6 “cheese” playing pieces and 4 cheese jigsaw pieces oh and the all important 60-minute VHS cassette (written, directed  and produced by Couple 'A Cowboys) containing 3 X 15 minute games (which increase in difficulty) staring the one, and only Rap Rat...  A latex 'Rappin’ Rodent Puppet (that for many years I thought was voiced by Enn Reitel but in fact voice credit is given to Paul 'pj' Johnstone and Doug Willimas) “with a lot to say!”. The object of the game is essentially a race against time, collect all 8 pieces of a puzzle and fit them together in the frame before Rap Rat eats all the cheese on the TV screen. I played the game and I recall it being fun, but I left feeling a little underwhelmed and I remember walking away with a voucher that granted me money off the purchase of the game thinking how much better it had been if I had actually ‘met’ Rap Rat himself or even got a free sticker or something... 

"Got an ‘A’ in attitude and lots of Rattitude!"
I don’t think the game did as well as Atmosfear as very little information exists about it online (apart from Creepypasta videos about rap Rat himself) it is certainly a very, unashamedly “Totally Radical” 90’s product, but if you remember it the first time round or just want to check it out for the first time, check out our eBay store and get this very one- money raised from our eBay auctions help fund all my creative endeavors, any questions get in touch Omnibot is only too happy to oblige!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I've never heard of that one.

    Board games have had a real revival in recent years, it's amazing.

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    Replies
    1. It's great isn't it? Its funny, people always talk about Video games ruining the market I am certain that I played just as may board games as I did video in the 90's... hell, they even had board games based on video games! Sold the Pac-Man board game last week! :)

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