Ren and Stimpy: The Quest for the Shaven Yak

SNICK, The Big Orange Couch, All That, Ren and Stimpy, Are You Afraid of the Dark? I can’t remember a more important time block in my childhood life. I loved all those shows, and I wish I could find copies of them to watch now. They are all amazing pieces of nostalgia that I could write at length about, but right now we’re only going to focus on Ren and Stimpy.

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I love Ren and Stimpy, but it has always held some mixed emotions and mixed signals in my life. For some reason I never understood, my parents didn’t liked me watching it. They would still let me, but they weren’t happy about it. Sure it was a bit more violent than the other shows, but it was silly and crazy and I loved every second of it. Now that I’m older, I can see the jokes that went over my head as a kid, and I fully understand why my parents weren’t happy with it. It really is a rather disgusting show. That’s not even including the later seasons when it moved from Nickelodeon over to Spike TV and became “Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoons”. I’m an adult now with a child of my own, and I still don’t feel like I’m old enough to be watching that smut.


Before we jump into the game, I think we need a little back story. The game gets some inspiration or at least its kick off point, from one of the show’s short segments featuring Yak Shaving Day and The Great Shaven Yak. Yak Shaving Day is a holiday vaguely similar to Christmas where you hang dirty diapers from the walls, fill your dad’s boots with coleslaw, and leave a pot of shaving cream next to the bathroom sink in hopes The Great Shaven Yak will visit you in the night and leave shaving scum in your sink. Not the kind of holiday I would want to celebrate, but to each his own.

Gameplay



Stimpy enters the living room excitedly one day to find a new pair of shoes waiting on the floor. But they aren’t any normal shoes, in fact, they aren’t shoes at all, they’re hooves. These hooves belong to The Shaven Yak who must have left them by accident last Yak Shaving Day. They must return them or Yak Shaving Day will be ruined forever.

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You can choose to play as either Ren or Stimpy, and you are free to switch at the beginning of each level, so it’s not a major decision you’ll be stuck with. They play nearly identically, but they do each have a special move which makes some levels easier with one rather than the other. Ren is capable of jumping high into the air, allowing him access to higher areas that would be inaccessible to Stimpy. Stimpy on the other hand has a ground stomp ability that lets him break small branches and open secret areas that Ren can’t get to. In general I like to play as Stimpy since I like him more and also the branches are a little more obvious than the random higher ledges.

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death count: 1

 

Their journey north begins in The Blacker Than Black Forest, a rather bright and cheerful wooded area despite its name. Here you’ll encounter all sorts of woodland critters like squirrels, birds, and skunks. None of them present a serious threat, but they do show up in a rather high frequency.

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The only enemies that present any real challenge are the porcupines and the bears. Both are immobile, but they are also immortal, making them more of an obstacle than an enemy. The porcupines will throw out projectiles, and you have to time it just right to jump over them. The bears on the other hand will completely block your path, you need to attack until they start crying, then you can walk right past them.

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The levels themselves are rather easy and straight forward, but there are a large number of hidden objects and secret areas. As mentioned before, Stimpy’s ground stomp ability opens up several areas, but there are also hidden enchanted canoes that will carry you to high ledges that even Ren’s high jump wouldn’t be able to reach. With all these areas and items you’re rarely short on health, which you might have noticed in the top left corner is measured in rubber nipples. Who could possible dislike a game where your health is measured in nipples?

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death count: 3

 

The real challenge comes from the boss fights. I’m not sure exactly what it is we’re fighting, a bear? Or maybe it’s a wolverine? Either way, it moves fast, hits hard, and has a lot of health. Luckily, it has a predictable attack pattern. It might take a few tries before you recognize it, but once you do he becomes a push over.

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Survive the boss, and you’re treated to a short cut scene where Ren gets stung by a scorpion. I feel really stupid now, but when I was younger, it never clicked that Ren’s outburst of pain was anything other than just that. It’s actually the password so you can continue your game from the start of this stage. It’s a really clever way to mix the password into the game without it slowing down the pace any. It was just a little too clever for 8 year old me.

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The Stinking Dry Desert ramped up the difficulty pretty quickly compared to the forest. There are a lot more indestructible obstacles compared to the last stage. For the desert stages, many of the cacti have replaced the porcupines, launching projectiles that must be avoided. Apparently this desert is so hot the cacti are actually exploding. Or maybe you’d rather be killed by the undead cows throwing their bones at you.

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death count: 5

 

Not all of the obstacles are immobile though. There’s also a variety of tumble weeds and mini tornadoes going around ready to damage you. The tumble weeds are usually easy enough to avoid since they generally just roll straight towards you. Even when they do bounce they aren’t much harder to avoid. The tornados on the other hand can be a bit more troublesome. They are faster than the tumble weeds and seem much more intent on following you. How tiny sentient tornados can form in the first place is anyone’s guess, but there they are for the world to see.

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The regular enemies are trickier too. You’ll be attacked by plenty of vultures intent on laying their eggs right on your head. At least I hope those are eggs. There’s also occasionally refreshing glasses of lemonade that are actually just mirages. Once you get too close they’ll reveal themselves to have been scorpions all along.

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There are also several underground caves to explore, breaking up the pace nicely. These caves are full of immortal spiders lying in wait for someone to walk under them. The many stalactites on the cave roof also seem to be dripping oil. Curiously, many of these oil droplets seem to come to life, sprouting legs and walking after you.

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death count: 8

 

Survive the dangers of the desert, and you will come face to face with a spitting cobra as the stage’s boss. Maybe it’s just me, but the cobra wasn’t nearly as challenging as the previous boss. A rapid fire attack with just the minimal amount of dodging was enough to beat him.

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This brings us to The Stinking Wet Bayou. This time around, Ren tries to attack a giant mosquito about to drink Stimpy’s blood, but instead just manages to punch Stimpy in the nose. Poor Stimpy, he’s always being assaulted by Ren.

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death count: 13

 

I am a little disappointed that the mosquitoes in the levels weren’t the blue ones in the cut scene. Instead they are these giant eyed generic things flying around everywhere. The blue ones fit the style of the cartoon better and I could have sworn I remember seeing them in the show like that before. They make up for it a little by including mudskippers just like I remember from the show.

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They also went ahead and added crocostimpys, which are crocodiles that look surprisingly like Stimpy and have a call that sounds like the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song. They’ve popped up randomly in the other levels, and I think they might have been bonuses, but I never managed to kill one, so I can’t really confirm what they do. Either way, I was happy with their inclusion since there have been so few direct show references so far.

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death count: 18

 

Avoid losing all your blood to the mosquitoes and you’ll eventually face the, um, leech? I think it’s a leech. Whatever it is, it gave me the hardest time of any of the bosses. It moves really fast and even knowing the attack was coming, I wasn’t always able to avoid it in time. The draw distance of the screen also played a part in making this level harder. It was short enough that if I waited to actually SEE if he was walking or lunging, I wouldn’t be able to react in time. Jump when he was walking, and I’d land on its head, wait till I could see the lunge and I wouldn’t be able to jump out of the way in time. His pattern also seemed the most random of any of the bosses. But a pattern is still a pattern, and once you get the rhythm, he’ll eventually go down just like the others.

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We’re getting close now as we climb The Perilous Mount Hoek. Unfortunately our team wasn’t paying attention and walked off a cliff. Will cartoon characters never learn to not walk off the edge of cliffs? At least gravity seems to ignore them until they notice it, and if I remember correctly, being distracted and forgetting your falling was the secret to flying.

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The laws of physics aren’t the only thing a bit questionable in these mountains. For some reason there seems to be a high number of mountain chickens and mountain crabs. That’s really the best they could think of? Mountain crabs?

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It just gets worse from there with mountain snails and whatever the hell those red things are. Seriously, they’re little red worm things with a single eye, and when you kill them, they don’t die. Instead they crunch up into a ball and start bouncing towards you. What are they even supposed to be?

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death count: 22

 

Eventually they just start throwing the whole arsenal at you by including the birds from the first level, the vultures from the second levels, and the blue mosquitoes from the cut scene. Where were you guys the whole last stage? If you’re going to be enemies now why were those other mosquitoes filling in for you before?

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death count: 30

 

My mosquito complaints aside, eventually you’ll come face to face with a crazy lumberjack. I haven’t quite decided if he’s amazingly good or bad at his job because I don’t think I saw a single tree on this mountain. So either there never were any trees, and he should go to the blacker than black woods, or he is so good that he chopped down every tree on the whole mountain. Regardless, he is psychotic and somehow mastered the aerodynamically impossible ability to throw an ax like a boomerang.

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It’s the final stretch. We’ve made it all the way to The Great Frozen North. All that’s left now is to find out where exactly the Shaven Yak lives. That is, if these icicles don’t kill our heroes first.

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death count: 36

 

This is where the game really cranked it up to 11. The enemies aren’t really anything that bad. But there are giant snowballs rolling around everywhere, making some areas nearly impossible to get through without taking a decent amount of damage. This was the only part of the whole game that made me feel like rage quitting.

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There are also immortal polar bears blocking your path at seemingly every turn. They can’t be killed, and unlike the regular bears, they can’t be stunned either. All you can do is try to jump over them. Even with the high ledges over then, this is sometimes easier said than done.

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death count: 39

 

This brings us to the final boss of the game, the Abominable Snowman. At first, I thought he was the hardest, near indestructible, almost cheatingly impossible boss the game had to throw at me. That’s because there appears to be only a single point in his whole attack pattern when he is even capable of taking damage. Any other time your attacks will just pass right through him. Once you notice and accept this though, he becomes the easiest of all the bosses, you just have to be patient. But I wasn’t disappointed. Yes he was easy, but you still have to watch his pattern and keep it up while you slowly drain his health or you will still die. Because of this, I truly felt like I had beaten him with pure skill rather than largely luck like the other bosses. It let me end the game with a real sense of accomplishment.


 

 

Having finally found The Shaven Yak, returned his hooves, and saved Yak Shaving Day for everyone, there’s only one thing left to do. Dance to the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song, then fly back home in the Shaven Yak’s enchanted canoe.

Verdict

Gameplay – 8 / 10

The game is just as much fun to play now as I remember it. The controls are simple and well executed. And the level designs are varied enough to keep it entertaining. They’re a little too easy, which causes a noticeable contrast when you finally make it to the boss fights. While the bosses do have fairly rigid attack patterns, they aren’t immediately obvious, and will take several attempts before you figure the pattern out. Followed by several more attempts to find a suitable counter attack. However, because of the rigidness of the pattern, I never felt cheated when they killed me. It was all part of the learning process.

Graphics – 7 / 10

The graphics were great for the system. Ren and Stimpy look fantastic, as do most of the enemies. I can’t really complain about what is presented, but rather the missed opportunity. I remember the show having several nature mockumentary episodes that introduced a variety of random animals what would have fit nicely in the game, so it’s a bit disappointing that nearly all the enemies are generic animals. Also it was kind of odd that the crab enemies seemed to be reused in every stage, even if it made no sense for there to be crabs in those areas.

Audio – 9 / 10

They did a wonderful job with the soundtrack, recreating as best they could several iconic songs from the show like the main theme, the Muddy Mudskipper Song, and Happy Happy Joy Joy. Even with the limited quality of the system, any fan of the show should be able to recognize them without trouble. They also used one of my favorite classical songs “Night on Bald Mountain” as the boss battle music. While these songs were all reused in each stage as opposed to stage specific songs, I can’t really fault it because I enjoyed it all the same. They are catchy songs that draw you into the game and make it more enjoyable.

Story – 7 / 10

The story, weak as it is, is still the perfect level of crazy to match the show. It explained the different locations as simply part of their journey across the globe trying to find the Shaven Yak. Add in the short cut scenes between levels, and it became a fun journey to save Yak Shaving Day.

Total Playtime – 1h 42m

It’s a rather short game, but a very enjoyable one.

Total Deaths – 39 Deaths

The enemies, though numerous, were rarely any frustration. Most of these deaths were from fighting the bosses, and the others were typically from falling down bottomless pits for an instant death.

Overall Score – 8 / 10

I really love this game. The levels are fun, the bosses are challenging, and the music is catchy. Plus the passwords at the start of each new stage saves you from having to constantly replay the early stages, thus avoiding one of the biggest frustrations of retro games. It’s not perfect, and if you’re not already a fan of the show, you admittedly might find it a bit generic. Fans of the show however should find it to be a truly enjoyable experience, even if the true show tie-ins are a bit few and far between.

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