Bucky O'Hare
by Polly

Oftentimes, I look back at things I enjoyed during my childhood and think, "What the fuck type of crack was I smoking?" I mean, come on...GREEN FUCKING HUMANOID RABBIT FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION? FOUR-ARMED, EX-PIRATE, HUMANOID DUCK WITH A NEW YORK ACCENT? PINK-HAIRED, PSYCHOKINETIC KITTY CAT IN A TIGHT-FITTING SPANDEX SUIT? What is it with these companies, even back then, trying to make female animal characters appear "sexy"? Even back then I remember thinking, "Why does the cat have jugs?"

Yep, that's Bucky O'Hare, a short-lived (13 episodes) Saturday morning cartoon about hunimals from another dimension fighting a war against...toads. God, this just gets more and more ridiculous with each word I type. Anyway, the good guys befriend some weird dork-imus kid from Earth to help them fight their war for whatever reason...Ya know what? Fuck it. I have no idea what the story is anymore, but you can take the small details I do remember and build your own [REDACTED]ed story around them and it'd probably be somewhere close.

Back in the day, Konami and Capcom had a tendency to snag up a license for every stupid little cartoon that they could get their grubby mitts on (or that Acclaim hadn't already raped into the ground with a 14 foot long sandpaper dildo). While these shows were clearly targetted at children, there's no way you can tell me the games could have been. More often than not (a few of Capcom's Disney titles are the exception) these games were an excercise in frustration. Not because the controls sucked, or the game cheated, or the company clearly just didn't think things out. No, siree, it was because the games were actually legitimately tough to get through and challenged even the most seasoned of gamers, oftentimes driving them up the wall that something aimed at a five year old was kicking their fucking ass. This is one of those games.

Bucky O'Hare appeared pretty late into the NES' incredibly long lifespan, so no question that it certainly takes advantage of all Konami had learned about making graphics for the console at that point. Character sprites are fairly representitive of their cartooney animated TV counterparts and display a surprising amount of color that help make them more authentic than most games ever got. Character animation for both heroes and enemies is a bit choppy, but not really enough to be bothersome. Background art is typical Konami at the time - Colorful, detailed, and varied. There's even a good bit of parallax scrolling going on in some stages, which was almost unheard of at the time on the 8-bit shoebox. The problem? If you've played a lot of Konami games before this one, you're gonna start to recognize a trend with this game. It recycles A LOT. I swear, the game's almost like a greatest hits compilation album in some areas, right down to the Red Planet's flaming pits and arcs of fire nicked directly from Gradius with no graphical changes whatsoever. Nonetheless, the graphics still look good and are solid enough for most players to not really mind that much.

Soundtrack-wise, it seemed that in the NES Days Konami could do no wrong. All the tunes here are nicely done and feature those signature Konami up-tempo stage anthems that get you into the action and end up being a little TOO damn catchy. There's not much in the way of music that I didn't like about this game. If there's one thing you can fault almost all Konami games for in the NES Days, it was that every one of their games sounded the same. It's like they made one set of sound effects in 1988 and never bothered making new ones. You'll recognize every single one. It's not that they're bad or anything, but a teensy bit of originality couldn't have hurt. Maybe they just like having their games look and sound a bit uniform, though. Who knows?

Let me just get this out of the way, so we're all clear: This game demands nothing but absolute perfection on the behalf of the player and will viciously maul you until you either give up crying or finally come to terms with it. Think you're some kind of bad ass platforming god? Go ahead, then. Throw this game in or load up a ROM and beat it without Save States. It will take you a loooooooong time to do so. I've managed it twice (once on an NES and while doing this review) and it's quite an accomplishment, I must say.

The game plays pretty much like a Mega Man game. You start out with access to four planets, each of which contains one of Bucky's captured comrades. Initially, this gives you a false sense of freedom, because as you'll play through the levels, you'll notice that there's an obvious order in which you HAVE to complete the stages in. If you happen into the wrong stage without the right character for a specific job, there's no way to just escape the stage. You have to lose all your lives (and in turn all your health power-ups) and go back to the stage select screen to try, try again. That's some really shitty design, right there. They should have just forced you to play the stages in the correct order as opposed to a tedious and unfair trial and error setup.

Once you rescue a comrade they'll now be on your team and you can switch to them on the fly which is kind of neato. Each hero brings a unique ability and weapon to the table that can be powered up easily with the massive amount of power-up items found throughout the game. Bucky has a super high jump that can be charged to get those out of reach power-ups or to escape danger to higher ground. Blinky has an EVER so useful jetpack you can use to glide your way through tricky situations. He's also very small, so getting into tight areas is never a problem and usually yeilds valuable power-ups. Dead Eye can cling to walls and climb around. Willy has his Retard Laser, and Jenny has the TELEKENETIC FUCK YOU MIND BEAM OF DOOM, DEATH, PAIN AND DESTRUCTION THAT WILL SAW YOU BOSS SHITS UP IN MERE SECONDS!!! Every character being different really does add a little more to the game and oftentimes there's more than one way out of a jam so the extra bit of creativity they squeezed in here certainly doesn't go against the game at all.

The stages themselves are pretty standard 2D Action Platformer fare. The ultimate goal is more often than not, the right side of the screen and getting there is RARELY ever an easy task. Each stage presents many unique challenges throughout, surprising the player at every opportunity. Almost every screen of the game is vastly different from the last presenting new obstacles for you to overcome which helps to keep things interesting. The problem is, there's just way too much "been there, done that" going on. While Bucky O'Hare is full of a lot of ideas being thrown at you at once, none of them are exactly new. There's not one thing in this game that you haven't done before and though they are done well, it's hard to get over that "Best of" Compilation feeling again.

If there's one thing this game DOES do, it's probably that it makes those older ideas MUCH harder than the games they probably originated from. Like I said, this game wants nothing but perfection. While the game DOES give you a TON of HP (even without health power-ups), its sole focus is purely killing you in one hit and laughing at you for even thinking about trying to grab that power-up that was sitting just a little too close to the fire. This is where the perfection comes in. You like making insane and intricately timed jumps? Well, here's your fucking game, because you're gonna be doing a whole hell of a lot of it. I wouldn't have a problem with this usually, but the controls don't feel quite as tight as they need to be for this activity. Jumping is very fast and feels a bit too stiff so it may take a while to get used to. It also feel like button presses aren't getting through sometimes, so you may find yourself running toward a jump and just falling into the hole anyway, because for some reason your jump button press wasn't detected. It's not a majorly common problem, but it's a problem that shouldn't even be there.

Once you've finally managed to run, jump, shoot, die, jump, die, shoot, jump run, die, shoot, run, jump, die, jump past every obstacle in a stage and finally stumble completely exhausted into the boss' room, you'll be relieved to know that they're probably a little too shocked at your efforts in reaching them to do much to you or really be all that menacing. Because they give you so much life to get there and most normal enemies are complete chumps, boss battles seem a bit too out of balance with the difficulty of the rest of the game. Not that a letting up in the difficulty isn't welcome, but they're BOSSES! They're SUPPOSED to CHALLENGE me! Most, if not all bosses can be completely annihilated with no strategy at all if you waltz in with a fully powered up life gauge and just mindlessly pump shots into them. Jenny's TOTALLY NOT UNBALANCED fully-powered mind-beam can take out most bosses in 1-3 hits. If you're NOT lucky enough to have full health (or Jenny), you'll have to employ some evasive maneuvers, but none are all that difficult to figure out.

I can't call Bucky O'Hare a bad game, because there is some fun to be had here. I will call it a lazy game, because everything feels completely phoned-in. Why Konami didn't do a port of the FAR superior Bucky O'Hare arcade game is beyond me. They did a great job with the TMNT arcade to NES conversion two years earlier, and there's no doubt that this game could have ranked up there in fun factor right along with it had a little more effort been put in.

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