Not Shakespeare, but it works.
RELEASE DATE: January 1992
I’m pretty sure I watched every early 90’s cartoon back when I was a child and judged them all with an eagle eye. I definitely weeded out “Bucky O’ Hare” as something that did not interest me. The concept of an interstellar space rabbit and his justice team against a band of toad ruffians (the enemies should have been tortoises – GET IT?! THE TORTOISES AGAINST THE HARES IN A RACE AGAINST TIME!) was played out new-jack horse crap. Give me “Rocko’s Modern Life” or “Inspector Gadget” any day of the week! Nevertheless, Konami, nimble developers that they are, made a fantastic platformer out of said crappy license.
Yes, it’s simple run, jump, and shoot action, but with enough variety to make your head sprout rabbit ears! First, in one of many Mega Man references, the game gives you a choice between levels in the form of planets. Each planet contains a different number of “acts” and, once you defeat the boss, you acquire one of Bucky’s crew and all of them have their own useful abilities. Blinky the robot blasts through blocks made of ice and stone, Deadeye can scale walls, Jenny has a homing bomb, etc. Their specific attributes help you get through the ridonkulously hard levels to follow. Seriously, these levels are controller-rattling tough and you better sing praises be for the unlimited continues that Konami gives you. They also have a password system, for those who have been worn out by the toad menace and just need to set the controller down for a spell.
In traditional platforming fashion, there is a traditional green planet, a fire planet, an ice planet, etc, but that ain’t all folks. The first four levels seem to shoot by in a breeze, albeit a breeze designed to rip your earmuffs off your head. As you progress, though, more levels keep coming… then more… and more. The game won’t end and it just keeps getting harder. For a game based on a children’s cartoon, Konami really pulled out all the stops with the difficulty. Much like Mega Man, though, it’s manageable difficulty that requires you to really learn each and every character in and out in order to progress. It’s difficulty that makes you want to keep going, which is an attribute found in only the finest of NES platformers.
I don’t know what it is about the misadventures of Bucky O’ Hare for my Nintendo Entertainment System, but I couldn’t put it down, even though I kept dying. Each of the levels within the respective planets had enough challenges and variety in the layouts to keep me going. The references to other classic NES games are awesome, as well: the aforementioned Mega Man, of course, but also Konami’s own line of classics, like certain weapons from Contra and an homage to the level in Turtles 2 when you’re on the boogie boards. Also, the toad enemies look like squattier versions of the Battletoads. Radical! If it’s sadistic platforming action you crave, but you’ve Megaed all the Men and Ninjaed every Gaiden you can think of, give Bucky O’ Hare a whirl. It will toast your eyeballs.