But what does a “birthday blowout” entail?
RELEASE DATE: September 1990
I remember when Bugs Bunny and his friends formerly known as the Looney Tunes were cool. They shot each other, blew each other up, smoked cigars, dressed in drag. Being born in the mid-80’s, I caught the tail end of their politically incorrect hijinx and it tickled every section of my funny bone. I know Bugs and co. are still around now, but their antics are muted, tamer. It’s true, cartoons don’t have to be crass and violent to be worth our time, but it helps… ah yes, the review! I tend to trap myself on memory lane when I begin one of these things. You see, for me, the first and the last paragraph are always the hardest because I have to come up with some cockamamie way to tie the whole review together, and sometimes (all the time?) it’s just easier for me to unload some random thoughts and gibberish that’s mildly associated with the subject I’m writing about. The more you know!!!
In one of the greater stories told on the NES, Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout – or Bx4, as it will be called henceforth – has Bugs attempting to reach his fiftieth birthday ceremony thrown by some of his biggest fans. Unfortunately, all of his fellow Looney Tunes feel neglected, hurt, and angry that they weren’t invited and are attempting to sabotage Bugs on his way to the party. One would think this would involve traps, guns, bombs, rockets, and other well-laid plans, but no. It involves exploding alarm clocks, walking mallets, juice boxes, among other strangely designed enemies; Kemco was going for a more avant-garde Looney Tunes game, apparently. The enemies, while obscure and confusing, don’t do much to hurt you. It’s usually by mistake when Bugs gets hit. The bosses are, of course, the other Looney Tunes, but their attempts to stop Bugs are poor at best. Why does Tweety think that throwing a tomato at Bugs will stop him dead in his path? Bugs has a mallet and Tweety is a dumpy little bird, easily squashed by mallets and other blunt instruments. All this to say, this game is incredibly easy.
Not only is the game a cinch, there really isn’t a goal, per say, other than to collect obscene amounts of carrots. At the end of each level, you play a bonus game to get extra lives, and the amount of times you play are based on how many carrots you collect; other than that, the carrots serve no purpose. Like all early platformers, the game is really trying to emulate Mario – collect carrots instead of coins, destroy goofy lookin’ enemies, go down misshapen block chunks that resemble pipes – but what made Mario stand out was the level design. Here, the environments are wide open and boring. While there are some secret areas scattered about, they usually just revolve around getting more carrots. The game’s repetitive and can be boring, BUT!… for some reason, I found that my quest to collect all the carrots I could drove me further into the game than necessary. Perhaps I, like Bugs, had become addicted to what rabbit scholars call “orange crack.”
Once you play through the game, eating and collecting all the carrots you can stomach, there’s really no reason to revisit it. The levels are bland and uncreative, the boss battles are uninspired, and the game can be beaten in a couple of hours. Bx4 came out a mere five months after the debut of Super Mario Bros. 3 and it shows, although the latter could crush the former with the mere tap of a Kuribo Shoe. Poor Bugs Bunny: if this game was worse, we could chalk it up to another cartoon license lost to the winds of greedy developers. Instead, it’s a merely average game riding on the coattails of a better game. Bugs could have gotten a worse present for his fiftieth birthday, but this is hardly a worthy homage to one of the great cartoon characters of all time. Sad, that.