Just when you might have thought Pizza Rat's spotlight was fading, the zeitgeist has birthed a few new ways to cash in on the ravenous rodent. From plush toys, to an SNL cameo, to a sexy pizza rat Halloween costume, Pizza Rat will definitely be in our cultural conscience for a while. Yet nothing has captured the nuance, the pain, the experience of what it's like to be Pizza Rat (pending a Pixar movie isn't in the works).
That’s where Go Pizza Rat Go fills in the story. The browser-based game follows the continuing, nay, endless adventures of New York's newest mascot vermin. A few days after the video went viral, game designer Jonathan Cherlin was approached by Go Pizza Rat Go's creators Shloimy Notik and Chad O'Connell through a mutual friend who knew they needed a programmer. "It had to be a quick turnaround to be relevant," Cherlin told FWx. "The entire planning and programming took about two weeks." The game originally had a larger scale, but was whittled down to its essence: a rat with pizza going down stairs.
Gameplay includes (what else?) you as the eponymous rat, carrying pizza down a subway staircase. Of course there are hazards in your way, like fast food bags, beer cans and stomping feet trying to make you drop that precious slice. The goal? To hold on to that pizza as long as you damn well can. That's right, there isn't a final level or boss. You just keep carrying pizza down infinite garbage-covered stairs, which is probably the most accurate depiction of New York City in any video game to date.
If the description of the game seems at all boring, any chance of that is completely washed away by the infectious (and eventually NSFW) "Go Pizza Rat, go Pizza Rat, go!" theme song, which automatically plays loud and proud when you click on the link. The song was later mixed and recorded by Alex Basak, but according Cherlin, "[Shloimy and Chad] were already singing the song when I met with them," Cherlin said. The music eventually played a part in the game's speed and design. "You want everything to mesh well."
Cherlin says his high score is 356, but that he improved with practice. "That's how I knew the game was balanced well. The more you do it, the better you get at it." Cherlin also pointed out, "In the video, the rat gives up. No one focuses on that. They're inspired that he tried to begin with." When asked why Pizza Rat was such a sensation, Cherlin summed it up nicely, "As a New Yorker, you can relate. We're all just trying to carry that big slice of pizza down the stairs."
So get your space bar ready, put your headphones on and live the life you've always dreamed of: Internet fame and carrying your own weight in pizza.