Overgrowth takes place in the savage world of Lugaru where rabbits, wolves and other animals are forced to use paws, claws and medieval weaponry to engage each other in battle. Combining 3rd person adventure platforming with intricate melee combat, Overgrowth achieves a unique feel. Overgrowth also benefits from Wolfire's brand new Phoenix Engine which has been built from the ground up to allow the use of cutting edge graphics, animation, and physics. Add to these exciting features Overgrowth’s realistic artificial intelligence and streamlined control system and the result is an astoundingly immersive experience.

Post news Report content RSS feed Why ninja rabbits?

This is the number one question we get, so we thought we'd answer once and for all.

Posted by jeffr on May 18th, 2009

John reports that "Why did you pick ninja rabbits?" is one of the most commonly asked questions from interviewers and fans on our live chat. For Lugaru, the answer is simple -- back in high school, I thought it would be fun to make a game about my dog Wolfie. This idea evolved into a game about wolves fighting rabbits. A more interesting question is: "Why did you keep the idea of ninja rabbits in Overgrowth?"


Unique setting

Most games featuring melee combat take place in an anime-inspired world of ninjas and robots, or a dungeons-and-dragons-inspired world of barbarians and wizards. It would be very difficult to make another game in these worlds that would explore new territory and provide a new experience. Our setting of animal warriors and ancient monoliths really helps us stand out from other fighting games -- and can make gamers stop and check us out when they first see movies and pictures of rabbit ninjas doing crazy acrobatics.

Another advantage of this setting is that it allows us to avoid showing violence against humans, while using human-like martial arts. If we want to make a very violent game without trivializing human violence, using non-human characters is a good first step.


Distinct character classes

Using animal warriors allows us to tap into our knowledge of real-world animals to create distinct character classes. We all know that rabbits jump high and wolves have big teeth. We can use this basic knowledge to establish complex relationships between the different species' abilities in a way that is intuitive to players. Whenever we have a setting with clear rules, we can reverse them to create interesting exceptions, such as a courageous rabbit who fights back against bigger and fiercer creatures.


Technological feasibility

It is a lot more feasible for us to render animal characters than to render human characters, since we can sidestep the uncanny valley. We spend a lot of time looking at other humans in our day to day life, so we can easily spot tiny errors in a computer-generated human face. However, we spend very little time looking at anthropomorphic animals. This gives us a much larger margin of error to work with before the characters start to look 'wrong'.

Animals also have physical differences that are easier to convey quickly to players from a distance. The different species all have different sizes and silhouettes, and different characters within each species have different fur colors and patterns. This is very useful in a third-person fighting game, because enemy characters are often very small on the screen, and would be hard to identify with more subtle distinctions.

Is it the right decision?

The big game companies tend to stick with tried-and-true characters like gangsters, space marines, world war two soldiers, ninjas, and barbarian heroes. These characters have proven very popular in the past, so they are re-used over and over. Maybe this is just inertia, or maybe those are really the only reasonable choices. What do you think? Should we keep using animal characters in Overgrowth, or switch to something else?

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Post comment Comments
Lt.SnoWolf May 18 2009 says:

Animals needs more Frogs tho

+2 votes     reply to comment
PierreOfTheFrench May 18 2009 says:

I think they look awesome, keep it as is. This games going to rock.

+4 votes     reply to comment
awesomepossum May 18 2009 says:

rabbits ftw!

+2 votes     reply to comment
BRKNnode May 18 2009 says:

Love animals.. my only request is to see more wolves... and maybe a preliminary skin for rabbot

and a wolfbot(?)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Sketch23 May 18 2009 says:

otters and badgers! can imagine a badger being a great brawler!

+2 votes     reply to comment
chris_sloany May 18 2009 says:

i did always wonder.... cool!

+2 votes     reply to comment
MacAttack412 May 18 2009 says:

Definitely stick with animals. So much cooler than people.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Rhinoshock May 18 2009 says:

The real question is: Why not?

+4 votes     reply to comment
Otreum May 18 2009 replied:

That's what I reckon :D

Rabbits are also known for their speed and agility, so they are pretty suitable for the role.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Insipidus7 May 18 2009 says:

I really like this idea here. The concept art is awesome, and if the game portrays this, I think it will really go far. The only thing I would recommend is to not include any green reptiles with shells on their backs :/ Still, really interesting idea. Definitely tracking.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Samuk May 18 2009 says:

Panda or turtle, they could look awesome !

Keep the animals, but you might want to explore what a human would be like in overgrowths world. Seeing as the animals have evolved tons, it'd be interesting what a human has evolved into.

0 votes     reply to comment
calmflow May 19 2009 replied:

Maybe Humans just didn't evolve at all, that's why the animals have become bipedal, no Humans hunting them so natural selection brought about larger, more advanced upright creatures.

Maybe these are Human precursors?

Keep the Animals guys, more fun that way, more feasible with the acrobatics, when was the last time you saw a Human that could jump 3 times its' own height? (that wasn't anime, mutant or space marine in a special suit)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Ryswick17 May 18 2009 buried:


i would like humans acctualy.

-5 votes     reply to comment
Atlasfield May 18 2009 says:

Jackalopes rulz! Deers rulz! Bambi rulz! XD

I like the concept art, what envy, I wish draw like this, who is the artist? I wish learn more about it, contact me please... ja,ja, I cannot imagine what others animals you will add, I want this game run by play with the rabbits again.

0 votes     reply to comment
Assaultman67 May 18 2009 says:

oh you are soo tracked ... ^^

+1 vote     reply to comment
INtense! Staff
INtense! May 19 2009 says:

ok i've been waiting for a post that convinces me to pre-order this game (I was always planning on buying it) and well this pushed me over the edge. You finally managed to get the "cute lil bunnies" stereotype out of my head. BROUGHT.

+4 votes   reply to comment
Otreum May 19 2009 replied:

Bahahah, yep, it's getting my mulah as well :)
You know what this reminds me of?
Jazz Jackrabbit...oh what a classic :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
jeffr Author
jeffr May 19 2009 replied:


+1 vote   reply to comment
doublethink May 19 2009 says:

Don't sacrifice your art direction or compromise your vision.

Doubt is the path to failure.

This game will speak for itself even if you had pink elephants fighting giant cockroaches.

Actually, that would be kind of cool... but you get the idea C:

+2 votes     reply to comment
FullMetalFox May 19 2009 says:

Im very interessted in this game, but i still would like to know if youll include stuff like foxes or steampunk.. yeah, sry, im a total fox fanatic, i just love those animals. hmm, most people say foxes would be smart, maybe they would mix up with steampunk X)

Anyway, keep up the great work, ill contiue to watch!

+1 vote     reply to comment
SinKing May 19 2009 says:

Yeh, humans recognise thing by shape (animals too, btw), so we'll probably never think: this is a rabbit. But we'll think this is a human with a rabbit head. It's convenient nothing besides birds and us walks on two legs.
I think it would be funny, if he would just slip out of the "suit" in the end and be a full man. Also this could be a curse brought upon him from an evil witch. You have excellent possibilities to create a brutally new fairy tale, there. And if you weren't already in full production, I'd say I write you a kick-*** story to it.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Eagle0600 Sep 10 2009 replied:

The whole "curse" idea isn't really feasible unless it's a REALLY old curse put on all humans everywhere. The reason is simple. ALL characters are anthropomorphic animals and have been for at least a generation.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Shoelip May 19 2009 says:

I remember going "WTF" The first time I saw Lugaru, but then I took a look at a few more screenshots and though it looked cool, and tried it out, and my suspicions were confirmed. You'll definitely lose some customers due to the unorthodox characters, but you likely lost quite a few of those already for being small indie developers, so it doesn't matter!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Torabi May 19 2009 says:

Well this post certainly clears up a lot for me, never been a fan of the whole rabbit thing, but now that you put it this way it looks quite good. Keep going!

+1 vote     reply to comment
FlySpyGuy May 19 2009 says:

Giant bananas should be introduced.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Carcass26 May 19 2009 says:

Personally, I don't see why you should have to justify the decision, but I'm glad you have shared a bit more of your vision with us.

It is refreshing to have a team capable of critically evaluating the importance of their decisions, as well as demonstrate a broad understanding of how certain design aspects can effect even the fundamental features of their project.

With each update you release I have a growing confidence of the abilities of your team, and the success that you are sure to achieve.

+1 vote     reply to comment
masternave May 19 2009 says:

Animals. It's like Redwall, or Watership Downs, which were both huge parts of my childhood.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Lord_Mordja May 21 2009 replied:

Haha, Hi5 man! Read both those books too. Ah nostalgia...

+1 vote     reply to comment
MiniHendrix Oct 24 2009 replied:

Yeah, Redwall was awesome back in the day. I even met Brian Jacques at a book signing.

+1 vote     reply to comment
NightSage May 19 2009 says:

Needs more Ninja turtles. lol j/k

Why ninja rabbits and not rabbit samurai?


+1 vote     reply to comment
Darkbladecr May 19 2009 says:

I think the idea of ninja rabbits is pretty awesome, gives some abstractness to the game, and uniqueness :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
Fddlrnthrf May 19 2009 says:

Are you kidding me? Don't even think about dropping the animals! That's what makes this game awesome.

...I have fond memories of the Redwall books.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Shralla May 20 2009 says:

I'm not convinced you guys aren't just furries, but the game is interesting enough to hold my attention.

0 votes     reply to comment
Eagle0600 Sep 10 2009 replied:

And would it be bad if they WERE just furries?

+1 vote     reply to comment
TRL Mar 17 2011 says:

I suggest you create more variation in these animal species. I would like there to still be four legged creatures. Like land whales resembling elephants. I mean if the animals are "humans", are there no animals anymore then?

But why just stick to mammals? From the top of my head, I can think of huge insect-like cave dwelling species, who rival with the reptile faction. Species of the sea and majestic gryphons and garudas of the sky which live on floating islands. It would really help the longevity of the game to have these really different domains in the game with all different surroundings and creatures. So the rabbit hero really gets the sense he travelled to a different place making him feel out of place. Traditionally in mythological games, this would translate to the snowy regions of the nordic people, the desert areas of the egyptians and even the far east asian cultures. Why limit the imagination? You really have the chance to create a real breathing world which looks and feels natural not only because of the graphics.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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