Ruff and Friends

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Hey, does anyone remember the game "Ruff and Friends"?

It was an old RPG game from the 90's, where you play the titular Ruff, and you adventure through some areas to try and save a dog. There were three main characters. Ruff the Dog, Belle the Cat, and Rye the Rabbit. The game was notorious for having insanely difficult boss fights after the relatively easy enemies. Even in the first level, there was a really hard boss fight that not a lot of people passed.

It was made by a company called DM Studios. It was their only game, as they went bankrupt shortly after. Not much information can be found nowadays, save for a few forum posts and some small snippets from Wikipedia. The game quickly fell into obscurity after it was made, and only 100 or so copies were made for PCs. It's rather hard to find nowadays, although some copies have popped up on Ebay, usually going for prices that are around 150 dollars to even 300 dollars.

The game opens up with a title screen. The title screen is surprisingly bare, with just an image of the three characters over a white background and some blue text that says "Ruff and Friends". There are three options. New Game, Load Game, and Settings. The Load Game did nothing, and the Settings just crashes the game, so you'd have to restart the console. So even if you had a save file, it would force you to start a new game anyway. The game opens up with a cutscene, showing someone that works at the dog pound taking away a pretty golden retriever. Ruff and his friends decide to go save her, but it would take a long time to get there. They'd have to traverse four different areas. After the cutscene, you're brought to a map. There are four different "worlds" on it. Flowery Meadow, Big N' Tall Forest, Shimmering Lake, and The Pound.

Flowery Meadow is the equivalent to World One. It has three levels. The levels don't have names, just your straightforward Level One, Level Two, and Level Three. Level One is basically a tutorial teaching you how to play whatever character you choose to play as at the beginning of the game. Many players often said that Rye the Rabbit and Belle the Cat are near-impossible to play as, so they just go for Ruff the Dog. The levels are pretty straightforward and easy, until you reach Level 3. At the end of the level, there's a boss fight with a big squirrel named Scarface. Scarface reportedly scared a lot of kids that played the game, due to his ominous, almost malicious appearance and his raspy voice. This boss fight is pretty much impossible to beat, no matter how much you try. No matter what you do, you'll always get a game over, and the game will crash.

That is, until several hackers found out how to bypass the boss fight, and got into World 2, aka Big N' Tall Forest. At this point, the game starts to act strange. You weren't supposed to defeat the boss, so the game doesn't really know what to do. Strange glitches, screen display issues, audio issues… you name it. The game basically becomes unplayable at World 2. This is also the same for World 3, where the game doesn't know what to do and freaks out. World 4, The Pound, is much different, though. The game behaves normally, but it's still a basically unbeatable world. On the first level, there's a portion where you have to evade some ghost pet enemies, and they're essentially unkillable. You can't do anything, and they just kill you in one hit. Once this happens, the game violently crashes, and the game writes a bunch of files to the System32 directory, almost filling up the system's RAM capacity. These files are mostly long strings of text, that when deciphered, lead to links to images of various dead animals, and other strange corrupted things. The main one that got a lot of attention was this one, which is of a dark red doorway leading to nowhere. There's text that says "come find me" and "i'm sorry" over and over again. This image often instilled feelings of dread and worry in players when it was seen.

Deleting any of these files will cause the computer to crash and blue screen. This will cause irreparable damage to the hard drive, and leave the computer unusable. Some of the hackers found out how to bypass this, seeing it was caused by a lone byte in the code. Deleting this byte made it possible to progress to the final boss fight with a man simply known as "The Pound Keeper". The hackers that managed to get to this boss fight are either dead via suicide, or refuse to speak of what happened. The only thing known is a vague description of what he looks like, and the music that plays in the background sounds like a low-quality recording of someone screaming in agony.

"The Pound Keeper" is described as a tall, lanky man, with obscured eyes, and a grin that stretches out wide and showcases his rotted teeth. His posture is hunched over, and he's carrying some sort of weapon. He has on some sort of uniform that is visibly bloodied and torn in places. Whenever you try to make your character fight, it says they are "too scared to move". This causes The Pound Keeper to instantly kill your entire party with one move, and you'll get a game over. There is no known way to bypass this fight and get to the ending. The thing about the game over screen for his fight, though, is that if you brighten the screen with an image editor, The Pound Keeper is seen standing and smiling in the background, holding a dog, a cat, and a rabbit. All with cartoony X'd out eyes.

After this information about the game was released, any remaining copies were quickly destroyed, or disposed of. To this day, nobody knows why the game behaves the way it does. The main developer's name is said to be a 49-year-old man named Ted Cratchet. He went missing just around the time of the game's release, and he still hasn't been found, although he is presumed to be dead. Other than Ted, nobody knows much information about who else made the game. To this very day, the game remains an obscure mystery. And today, I have shared that mystery with you. What will happen to me, I do not know. I know one thing for sure, though.

If you have a copy of Ruff and Friends somewhere, destroy it as quickly as you can. You may never know what will happen to you if you don't.

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