Image: Box art for Rugrats in Paris
Written by: Katelyn Vause
“Games from my Childhood Library” is a series where I go through the CD-ROM games that I played/owned when I was growing up. I donated some to the CD-ROM Fossil Library, but some, whether due to a lack of particular value or me being too nostalgic to give them up, are still in a black CD case at home. In the spirit of Halloween, I’ll be writing about a game that haunts me to this day: Rugrats in Paris.
Obviously, Rugrats is not a scary franchise. A beloved cartoon series that also holds a dear place in my heart, Nickelodeon released a movie in 2000 titled Rugrats in Paris: The Movie. I remember being a little girl sitting in the movie theatre with my dad, excited beyond description as the big screen lit up with my favorite characters. We bought the VHS when it released (it was a brilliant neon orange, so you never had to worry about finding it in the stacks of movies under your TV). The movie follows the babies as they have adventures in the famous French city, ultimately thwarting an evil woman’s plot to marry Chuckie’s dad for her public image.
The PC game is nothing like the movie.
Okay, well, the evil woman who tries to marry Chuckie’s dad, Coco LaBouche, is still evil, but the entire game takes place in EuroReptarland (I’ll give you one guess as to what it’s based on). The premise of the game is that Coco has had Chuckie’s precious Wawa bear taken away, and the babies must navigate through the park in order to find where the bear is hidden and get him back.
It’s yet another one of my beloved adventure/point and click games. You direct the group around the park with your mouse, and your cursor is an adorable pair of red footprints modeled after Chuckie’s shoes. You play a series of mini games and, upon completion, earn necessary items to move forward, such as the key to an elevator that will take the babies to the basement of the park.
There are fun, interactive elements within the environment too; for example, if you click on the balloon cart, one will fly away and one of the children will make a comment about it. The music is upbeat and fun, and the loading screen music in particular makes great use of the xylophone. All of the characters are fully voice acted within cut scenes (it sounds to me like they used the actors from the actual show) and it still possesses the same lighthearted humor and charm as the show.
The game is a bit…buggy. Though the loading screens to different areas are supposed to sound like sped up versions of the same song, it ultimately ends up sounding jumpy and like it’s pausing on random beats. It takes a long time for the interactive elements to respond to the click the first time you mouse over it. Annoying, but again, definitely not scary.
This game haunts me because of the utility basement level. Not because it has frightening music or jump scares. No, this game haunts me because I never finished it. And in fact, I barely got halfway way through it.
The utility basement is where you go after playing two mini games and navigating one basement. You’re supposed to find bonbons that are scattered around the park in order to appease Angelica and get the security code you need to move on. I never managed to figure out how to get enough bonbons and get out of the utility basement.
In my defense, I was in primary school when I played the game. I wasn’t then (and am still not) the best navigator. Walking around in a tiny circle of light (meant to mimic the dimness of the basement) didn’t help matters. I can’t remember if I genuinely never found the bonbons or couldn’t find the exit, or if it was a combination of both. I didn’t think to look up solutions on the internet, so there are many a save file that ultimately ends with me stuck in the same spot, trapped in a sort of cartoon purgatory.
I’m not joking when I say I still sometimes randomly think about what the ending is like. I know I could look up gameplay footage, but something stops me every time, and the ghost of the incomplete continues to linger in my mind.
Have an unfinished game that haunts you to this day? Tell us about it in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Halloween!