Bunnies, rabbits, call them whatever you like – but with as video games turn to personification to quench their everlasting thirst for new and interesting characters, it’s only inevitable that often-cute, occasionally-vampiric, and always-carrot-loving rabbits should see an increased presence in the video games industry.
For this list, we’re only going to consider rabbits that made their debut in video games – sorry, Roger Rabbit and Bugs Bunny, but here are the Top 10 rabbits and bunnies to make their debut in video games.
#10: MIPS – Super Mario 64
First on the list is the minor but lovable character from Super Mario 64, MIPS.
MIPS doesn’t play a huge role in the game, holding two Power Stars for Mario to obtain, but he continues a long-standing Nintendo tradition of naming characters after bizarre hardware characteristics – in this case, Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages. Just a clever little tidbit about MIPS the rabbit.
#9: Rabites – Secret of Mana
Rabites are the de-facto of the Mana series – as much as a cute, cuddly, footless puff of fat can be a mascot. They’re really rather adorable, until you viciously tear them apart with your bare hands. Or weapons. Point being, they’re cute and cuddly and probably taste really good with barbecue sauce. But they represent the Mana series quite aptly.
#8: Buneary & Lopunny – Pokemon Diamond
No offense to Plusle and Minun, but compared to Buneary and Lopunny, they’re mere rodents. Buneary and Lopunny are the Pokemon universe’s version of rabbits in its never-ending thirst to have a Pokemon equivalent for every animal known to man (except no platypus? Come on!). And while some Pokemon can overcome the weakness of their real-world equivalent to actually remain formidable (Blastoise is the most intimidating turtle not of the teenage and mutant variety ever), Buneary and Lopunny are not among these.
Maybe they should’ve added in some fangs.
#7: Rabbids – Rayman Raving Rabbids
Or maybe more like the Rabbids. Have you seen those commercials of those Rabbids ambushing the guy in his living room? Creepy, man. You throw those into a Pokemon battle and I’m running the other way.
Those things are terrifying. The Rabbids are pretty fantastic themselves as well – I mean, how often does a mob of minor characters actually take over the series from the main protagonist? Heck with you, Rayman, all we need are these awesomely-terrifying apparently-bloodthirsty Rabbids. I guess they’re not called Rabbid for nothing.
#6: Alice – Bloody Roar
Did you ever really think that a rabbit could be this believable as a character? Play for a few hours and you’ll start to expect giant walking rabbits to pass you on the street. And kick your butt. But come on, if you could choose to transform into some half-human, half-animal beast, what would you choose? A wolf? A bear? A tiger? And is there anything that would rank higher than cute little bunny rabbit? Probably not.
But in a true accomplishment in the field of badassery, Alice becomes a rabbit – and actually makes it believable. Talk about earning your B.A.
#5: Bianca – Spyro the Dragon
Bianca is the obligatory bad-guy-turned-good for the Spyro series. Well, bad-girl-turned-good. You know that every series needs one, and as soon as you see a cute little bunny on the opposing side, you know that’s who it’s going to be. A bunny just can’t be that evil without those bloodthirsty red eyes.
Bianca also proves that bunnies can actually be competent at something, even if they’re not anthropomorphic half-human half-beast martial arts machines like Alice. And then in one final act of awesomeness, she pulls the animal kingdom equivalent of a waitress marrying a corporate CEO and hooks up with a Cheetah. I wouldn’t want to mess with their offspring.
#4: Peppy Hare – Star Fox 64 (N64)
Peppy is the remnant of a darker age in the Star Fox universe, where main characters actually died and somehow people were too dense to realize that the short, squatty pig with the mischievous, whiny voice and beady eyes was – get this – evil. Surviving, Peppy went on to mentor Fox, pulling the sidekick-to-mentor turn better than anyone since Obi-Wan. But what really sets Peppy apart – aside from his noble tutelage of the younger McCloud, his selfless willingness to serve as a support despite his seniority, and persistent calm in the face of adversity – is his ability to come up with the most awesomely and bizarrely memorable quotes in video game history.
“Never give up. Trust your instincts.” “You’re becoming more like your father.” And of course, “Do a barrel roll!” Who needs courage, selflessness and skill when you can have really awesome catchphrases?
#3: Jazz Jackrabbit – Jazz Jackrabbit (PC)
One of the rare rabbits to actually serve as the title character for his series, Jazz Jackrabbit takes the tortoise-and-the-hare fable to new heights. Except for, you know, not losing. Unlike many video game protagonists’ reliance on less violent weapons, Jazz used an actual gun to battle against his opponent, the evil turtle Devan Shell. Hopefully that’s the only time you’ll have to read the phrase “evil turtle” today. Overall, Jazz Jackrabbit comes across as a bunny version of Rambo, complete with red bandana and, of course, the aforementioned gun.
That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a pretty putrid shade of green, though. Surprisingly, Jazz Jackrabbit wasn’t the first rabbit to serve as the title character for a video game. Who was? Read on…
#2: Max – Sam & Max Hit the Road (PC)
What do you get when you put a rabbit, Dick Tracy, Tommy Vercetti and a gallon of sugar in a pot, then stir it up? A small hyperactive rabbit that solves crime with complete disregard for traffic laws – or any other laws, for that matter. Max is the overly hyper, politically-incorrect, hygienically-deficient, weapons-crazed bunny sidekick to Sam in the Sam & Max series.
Max encompasses a little piece of all of us – that piece that watches NASCAR races just for the crashes, or spends hours watching YouTube videos of people faceplanting on the sidewalk. Max is just a bit more in touch with his destructive side. And he also joins our list of rabbits that are more intimidating than frickin’ Lopunny.
#1: Reader Rabbit – Reader Rabbit (PC)
Back before the age of the Leapster, video games and educational games weren’t quite as separate as they are now. Educational video games really were games, just with an educational twist. That was the age of Math Blaster, of Super Solvers, and of Reader Rabbit. Yes, Reader Rabbit – just hearing that name likely inspired a sigh of nostalgia if you’re in the 18 to 25 age bracket. The red-and-blue-clad protagonist starred in 18 games from 1986 to 1998, teaching kids the basics of reading and phonics.
For many of us, Reader Rabbit was the first video game experience we had, opening a gateway not only to gaming, but to learning. Many teachers are viciously opposed to the idea of teaching using games, believing that rather than teaching they only encourage continued video game playing – however, games are an extremely effective teaching mechanism, as Reader Rabbit demonstrates. We’re always learning when we play games – the question is not whether we’re learning, but what we’re learning.
Rabbits. Bunnies. Hares. Call them what you want, they represent a surprisingly large subset of anthropomorphic video game characters. I don’t know what it is about rabbits that make them more common than dogs, turtles and other common animals, but for whatever reason, rabbits are a favorite of video game character designers. I guess we’d better just be hoppy with it. Now I’m going to go jump off something high to compensate for that pun.
[Written by DetroitDJ, published with permission]