Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Quick Take – Mark Leung: Revenge of the Bitch

Posted by Rampant Coyote on February 14, 2011

“Think of it as an RPG gone wrong.”

That’s part of the description of the Torque (TGEA) – based indie parody RPG, Mark Leung: Revenge of the Bitch.  I’ve raised a few eyebrows when I’ve told people the title of  what I’ve been squandering my miniscule-and-still-diminishing “spare time” on, but hey — it’s a humor-oriented indie RPG! It’s, like, research and stuff!

As you can probably deduce from the title alone, it’s a pretty wild ride. Mixing live-action video for some cutscenes with “toon-shaded” graphics, the game starts you in a world in which you get into mortal combat with kittens, squirrels, and “giant rabbits” who resemble big guys in rabbit suits. Particularly if you are all-too-familiar with the more modern console RPGs, the game feels both familiar and amusing. It  spoofs not only jRPGs, but also whatever seemed to have tickled the developers’ fancy, from Pokemon to anti-videogame activist Jack Thompson to the current economic downturn and even Skittles commercials. It lays the smack down on anything it can lay its paws on.

It’s a strange and silly game. Okay, “strange and silly” doesn’t begin to cover it. Crank those up to eleven, and you’ve got an idea. Think Monty Python levels of raw absurdism mixed with the sensibilities of the video game generation and the unpolished exuberance of a young indie developer who hasn’t learned the word “no” yet. The game has you hunting red sofas in the wilderness to save your game. Breaking up with an ex-girlfriend with a mustache who turns into a dog. Fighting a villain who looks like Ronald McDonald and acts like Heath Ledger’s Joker. And abusing and splatter cute animals. Apparently, it was this latter part that cost real-life Mark Leung a couple of friendships, as they felt he was promoting cruelty to animals.

So does it stand on its own as a game?

Mechanically, I think so.  The gameplay is a basic but reasonably well-handled mix of exploration, questing, and combat. The combat seems fairly well balanced, in general, and the characters you can add to your party follow the conventions of most jRPG-style games, including straight-up attacks, general sorcery, and custom abilities for each party member – from healing to combat ice-skating. The determination about who gets to go first in combat is made by a very squirrely action move where you have to manage to sneak up behind the monsters in the world exploration area and hit them with an attack before they spot you and attack you.  Unfortunately, it’s very tricky to do this and not be either too late or too far away when you attack, so in practice I found the enemies going first the majority of the time.

The different attacks and monsters can be very amusing. I particularly enjoyed the combat above, where the Pikachub (if I got the name correct) throws out a box from which springs a young boy (“Ash”) to slap the player characters. The quests and exploration aspect of the game weren’t quite as well done, IMO, following pretty conventional lines. For example, an early quest has you accepting a commission from a character called “Panda Hater” to deal with the panda overpopulation problem by killing ten pandas. Again, it’s parody, and the idea of an endangered species of the real world having an overpopulation problem in the game world typifies this games’ humor.

But humor can be a personal thing, and this style of humor may not appeal to everybody. The game can get a bit rude and crude, which usually leaves me cold, so there were many parts I found more annoying than enjoyable. There’s probably something in there to offend pretty much everybody. But I also enjoyed some laugh-out-loud moments as well.

I’m still waiting for the characters, story, and world to grab me, though. But I’ve still got a ways to go.

It’s hard not to admire what new developer Uglysoft (whose name is made more amusing to me because they bleep out the part between the s and the t in the opening titles – yes, in this I ‘m mentally a fourteen-year-old, and I don’t care!) for their technical and artistic accomplishments with this game. It’s a solid, professional-feeling game. I feel it invites direct comparison to Hothouse Games’ Penny Arcade Adventures, which shares the same core game engine, and a similar sense of humor. It may not come out on top in a direct match-up with the PA titles, it is also a “bigger” game made by a far less experienced team.  And whatever polish it may lack, it makes up for it in sheer ballsiness.

If you are easily offended, I’d steer clear. But if you aren’t too proud to enjoy a little juvenile humor or a game that goes for the audacious, I’d recommend trying out the free demo and see what you think:

Try out Mark Leung: Revenge of the Bitch

And here’s the trailer, if you haven’t caught it already:

Filed Under: Impressions - Comments: 12 Comments to Read

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    This has some pretty amazing production values for an indie title.

    I also have to admit I giggled so hard I almost choked when the Pikachu parody unleased an epileptic inducing attack that K.O.ed the party. Then my adult side reared its ugly head and wondered about the wisdom of including a near exact duplicate of the Pokemon scene that induced epileptic seizures in hundreds of people.

    That said, I’m a great lover of any game that takes the air out of the normally pompous and overblown rehashing that is the fantasy and RPG genres, which is why I am looking forward to Frayed Knights so much.

    I’m a walking example of how too much of a good thing can kill something for you – I read nearly one fantasy novel a week for twenty years while playing D&D in a traditional fantasy world and now I can’t stand the genre. Mostly I just got bored with it, able to spell out the entire plot and sequence of events from the blurb on the back cover, always hungering after something new and strange and never finding it. Maybe in 20 more years I can return to the genre and like it, until then, I’ll stick with parodies that mock the fact that hundreds of fantasy titles are using the same story with palette swaps.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I would be happy with fantasy RPGs that didn’t adhere to the LotR-esque formula for a plotline. Why is the world always in great peril and only a tiny group of heroes (or just one hero) is all that stands between Life as We Know It and utter destruction or subjugation?

    One of the reasons Ultima VII hooked me was that it opened up with a murder mystery. Okay, it led to a big Save the World plot, but at least in the opening few minutes, it felt like it was heading into uncharted territory.

    So rather than pure parody, I’d like to see more RPGs that are willing to accept heroic fantasy as a setting, not a plot formula.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    I agree, that’s mainly what I am talking about.

    Everything seems to be a rip-off of Tolkien in fantasy. Tolkien took elves and dwarves from Norse mythology and put his own spin on them. He invented orcs for a very specific purpose in his stories. Why can’t more fantasy writers make up their own races and spend as much time crafting them as Tolkien did?

    I’m honestly not sure why the Tolkien estate isn’t filthy rich from suing the pants off hundreds of authors and game makers. Hobbits renamed to halflings and everything is cool despite being identical in every other way? Tolkien must have been a real nice guy, because far too many people have taken a withdrawal from his bank of creativity without making a deposit.

    I actually find Tolkien’s books to be very dry and boring myself (except the Hobbit). He really needed a good editor in my opinion. But I came to the LOTR trilogy late in the game after having read dozens of other fantasy novels that ripped him off, so perversely the original was old hat and stale to me before I got to it. The Hobbit, however, was the very first fantasy book I read, and got me into the genre.

    I agree that we need less books and stories about saving the world. I get so exasperated at authors of television shows, movies, or video games not knowing how to craft compelling and interesting stories without resorting to hyperbole. It results in dramatic inflation, and you can see it all the time in comics and video games and some TV shows. First our hero must save the city (or town), then the country, then the world, and sometimes then the universe. Well . . . who cares?

    All you need to do to craft a wonderful and exciting story is create an interesting character than people can sympathize with and then give them an interesting problem that is important to them personally, around which their life, or happiness, etc. is at stake. Presto. Good story (if executed well of course), no world destroying evil involved.

    I know that RPGs usually want to find a reason to make the player travel, but what about some reason OTHER than saving the world? What if you are simply trying to find a lost friend? What about a game based on Around the World in 80 Days , where your enemy is time and you must overcome obstacles that aren’t evil to complete your trip? What about a game set in World War 2 era Europe where you aren’t a soldier gunning down Nazis, but an ordinary citizen trying to get your Jewish family out of the country before the Nazis can get to them? What about more comedic adventures like we see in movies like Due Date and the Hangover? Where you have only so many days to make a trip across country for something personally important and events are conspiring against you? Seems like a perfect set up – you have friends for a party system, new locations to see, a rising sense of urgency, upgrades to transportation, interesting NPCs, etc.

    How many plots do we really need where Evil Overlord X rises up and we must recover the Amulet of Yendor Version XXVI to defeat him and save the world?

  • tfernando said,

    I actually remember playing a text-adventure back in the Atari 8bit days based on ‘Around the World in 80 days’. As far as I can remember, it was kinda fun.

    The goal of an RPG isn’t just to get to point B by day N, it’s to get there sufficiently powerful to defeat X at that time. The hero is supposed to grow (in power, wisdom, whatever) along his journey in order to do that. If he doesn’t it could be a compelling game, but it’s not an RPG. If his sole objective is to get to point B for personal reasons, there’s no incentive toward character growth. Racing games where the player upgrades his equipment to become faster and compete in more rewarding races are not RPGs. ‘Journey is the destination’ is implicitly denied by all the non-open world games. 🙂

    The hypothetical escape the Nazis game would be great as an adventure game, but it would be even harder than a racing rpg. Here, time spent developing the character is time wasted getting the family to a ship. The character can not level up enough to confront the enemy– as a hero’s journey, the story can only end in failure. (As an adv game, all kinds of character development could be established though)

    There are RPGs and near-RPGs that deal with defeating the local little bad rather than saving the world from the big-bad (Caravaneer comes to mind). They’re narratively different but play like the epic RPGs mechanically.

    tldr: I think RPGs are designed to deliver hero’s journey plots. Other genres are more suitable to other stories at first glance.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,


    You make some very interesting points. I’m particularly intrigued by your idea that RPGs are designed to deliver hero’s journey plots.

    I hadn’t thought about it before, but upon thinking on the issue it would appear that most RPGs do fall into that category. I just wish RPGs wouldn’t define the hero’s journey quite so narrowly.

    Many different stories can fit the hero’s journey. The call to adventure doesn’t have to be a wizard, or a prophecy, or a home town getting burned, etc. It could be something as simple as turning down a friend for help in a letter or phone call – the friend ends up dead and our hero, burdened with guilt starts to investigate the death, only to run into the old detective or inspector who becomes their guide . . . etc. etc. It is perfectly easy enough to fit the hero’s journey into a modern setting and into a much smaller scale than saving the world.

    Again, I can agree that RPGs are also about growing in power. I know a lot of players love the number crunching of the genre, and I’m one of them, but I again assert that this “growing” doesn’t have to be about learning the ultimate spell or finding the best sword in the land. Becoming better at escaping trouble, or picking locks, or even understanding people’s motivations, or simply growing in bravery enough to stand and fight at all, even if it is just to confront a personal bully, all these can satisfy the growth requirement of RPGs if done right.

    To go back to the Nazi game example I gave and that you mentioned, time spent developing a character wouldn’t be time wasted that could be used getting the family to a border. The growth would come WHILE doing that, and you wouldn’t be getting powerful enough to confront the enemy – you would be getting powerful enough to avoid and evade the enemy. There is nothing in the hero’s journey (as laid out by Jospeh Campbell) that requires a fight or physical confrontation. Being able to guide your family through a tense, nerve-racking, but emotionally satisfying escape that would have been impossible when you started, before you learned and grew and confronted the problems or hang-ups that were stopping you from succeeding – that can provide just as powerful an ending an RPG that has you machine-gunning mecha Hitler with the ultimate Mythril Machinegun using the awesome gun skills you’ve built up every level.

    To finish up – I categorically deny that the ‘Journey is the destination’ is denied by RPGs. (See what I did there? 😛 ) All you need is one defining moment near the end where the journey would fail unless the hero brings to bear the knowledge they have learned along the way. Presto.

    Remember, the hero’s journey can be a psychological one just as well as a physical one or a combination of the two.

    That’s for the thoughtful post – it really did give me a lot to think about. Of course, it also helped me realize that just about every plot on the planet is a hero’s journey plot, including nearly all movies.

    You might be interested in the following link –

    It really breaks down the hero’s journey and shows how films use it. Good stuff.

  • Felix Pleșoianu said,

    “I’m honestly not sure why the Tolkien estate isn’t filthy rich from suing the pants off hundreds of authors and game makers.”

    By the same logic, the descendants of the Vikings should have sued the pants off Tolkien.

    You can’t copyright ideas, LateWhiteRabbit. If you could, we wouldn’t have a culture, as every new work of art builds on what came before. Some copycats are uninspired; others are SHAKESPEARE. And you can’t ban only the former. There is no magic.

  • Rats said,

    I would be happy with fantasy RPGs that didn’t adhere to the LotR-esque formula for a plotline. Why is the world always in great peril and only a tiny group of heroes (or just one hero) is all that stands between Life as We Know It and utter destruction or subjugation?

    Millennium by Aldorlea does not follow this formula.

  • McTeddy said,

    You know… I couldn’t give two darns whether an RPG follows the standard formula.

    I’ve always cared more about the experience than the actual journey. If the plot line isn’t bad enough that I turn it off and the game play is good enough that I enjoy playing it… I’m satisfied.

    I’m not saying I wouldn’t like less templated stories… but I stopped expected games to bring me them a loooong time ago.

    What I want is new experiences. I want to see some game devs start building games that don’t adhere to the kill everything standard. I’d love to see more games that focus on other types of confrontation.

    On that note, I’d love to play that WW2 game. Do us all a favor and make it 🙂

  • tfernando said,

    Could you expand on that? The description I found for Millennium is:
    “…She has a bit less than a month to find and convince twelve warriors to support her, so that ultimately she can confront the thirteen powerful warriors of the heartless government of Mystrock in a legendary showdown.”

    Which sounds a lot like ‘Peasant girl sets off on a quest to fight the big evil.’

    @LateWhiteRabbit- (appologies for the reduced quotes and taking your thoughtful response out of order)

    Interesting link*… that plus some wiki reading, I think I underestimated just how broadly Campbell intended his monomyth to be taken. I’m not sure I said anything useful by citing Hero’s Journey!

    (Although, I think stories can be told without plots, conveying theme rather than narrative*- ballads, sonnets, sketches, and vignettes all can do this (cf Kipling’s _Tommy_ or _Like a Soldier_) and the sandbox games aim at it.)

    re:”All you need is one defining moment near the end where the journey would fail unless…”

    See, I would say that moment is the narrative payoff- the destination, which justifies the existance of the narrative in the first place. Computer games are supposed to be mechanically fun in and of themselves- for the human player the journey really is the destination, but for the characters it can’t be. If it is, we’re playing PacMan.

    re Nazis from: “Being able to guide your family … confronted the problems or hang-ups that were stopping you”

    I see what you’re saying, I may just be having a problem with the specific example. The player knows apriori that Nazi’s are bad guys and the family needs to escape at -any- cost. There’s really no reasonable way to separate the player’s knowledge from the player character’s knowledge, and this short circuits any opportunity for character growth on the part of the PC. Even if you fictionalize the setting, all but your first players will know there is an unfightable evil in the wings.

    Oregon Trail is not generally considered a cRPG, despite being a game where the player plays the role of a settler trying to reach Oregon. In particular, because there is no characterization of the party, and it gets weaker over time rather than stronger. (The ur-cRPGs had no characterization either, but the party gets stronger)

    I -think-, but I’m no longer sure, that if you re-did Oregon Trail in the Infinity or Aurora engine, you would end up with something un-recognizable as a cRPG. You could still have a very compelling game.

    Thank you for an interesting reply.

  • trudodyr said,

    Very interesting comments here. I’m also bored by the clicheed storylines, sometimes even down to predictable twists. Incidentally, this is also what drove me away from reading fantasy novels, which was a favourite pastime of my youth. But this medium/genre has (finally) successfully overcome being bound to an overused formula, thanks to a group of pioneering writers (G.R.R. Martin et al) that pushed the boundaries, and thus the buttons of readers like myself.
    In here, I see an opportunity, especially for indie game developers: The big publishers are afraid of novel approaches, but a small creative team could deliver exactly the kind of innovative storytelling we (and supposedly many other gamers) are yearning for.
    Make it less high-fantasy (ok, there have been a good amount of titles here), less black-and-white (I feel the alignment thing never really got used in the d&d games), less formulaic. Give us more grit, more ‘fictional realism’ for lack of a better world, come up with interesting scenarios.
    Those don’t even have to be completely orginal, current events and dilemmas all over the globe could provide plenty of inspiration. I really don’t see the need to tread worldwar-territory for the umpteenth time (sorry @LateWhiteRabbit :)), when there is a plethora of largely untapped (not only military) conflicts that writers can draw from when coming up with a background story of their own.
    I might be wrong in this, but I think the small minority of sci-fi games was always more exploratory and interested in ‘real’ problems as opposed to the masses of quasi-standardized Tolkienesque settings (the same could probably be said for the respective literature subgenres). And still: For the most part I prefer the fantasy RPG, because although (or maybe because) it was pretty much in a standstill story-wise, the loved number-crunching part was refined and expanded upon a lot here.
    I would really like to see more games, and (old-school) RPGs in particular, adapt new, engaging settings. Cyberpunk is a start (Arcanum comes to mind), but for me, VtM:Bloodlines is a prime example of a fresh, interesting game universe – and I’m sure there’s a lot more interesting pen & paper RPGs out there that could provide a starting point for budding developers.

  • Rats said,

    There is no final boss or “world-in-danger” in Millennium. If you play the game you’ll see Lord Dragon (the main antagonist) hardly ever threatens Marine.
    Also check Dreamscape or Ella’s Hope which are other examples of diferent types of storylines.

  • JadedDM said,

    I played through the demo, and color me interested. I looked it up, and hey, it’s done by the same guy who did College Saga (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwLrgxtALWs). I knew some things in the demo seemed awfully familiar to me, like chairs blocking the path.

    Normally, I can’t stand JRPGs, largely because I played way too many of them as a kid. But I do enjoy games that make for them, even if they are in the JRPG style. Go figure.

    I’m considering going ahead and buying this one.