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Bucky O'Hare (NES) artwork

Bucky O'Hare (NES) review

"Each scene plays out like a perilous mini-adventure, forming levels like rough and rugged trips through amusements park in hell. The adventure is stupendous, even if the combat is so-so."

I hold a special place in my heart for Bucky O'Hare, both the games and the TV series on which they're based. Sure, many can contend that it's another TMNT cash-in, an animated program featuring a cast of anthropomorphic animals in a different setting and situation fighting off a familiar cast of other bumbling, yet menacing anthropomorphs, but this one struck a chord with me. It spoke my geeky language and assuaged my hunger for campy science fiction. I devoured its awesomeness with gusto every Saturday morning as a child, but couldn't afford any of the figures, and so settled on occasionally rented the NES title, a tight little run 'n gun platformer with plenty of variety and challenge up the wazoo. It's games like this that taught me the choice words I use nowadays, the ones that make nuns cringe and family members send me concerned Facebook messages.

Yes, there are times that this game will make you want to punch random people in the throat. It can be that freakin' hard.

Though the game is a modest run 'n gun platformer, it showcases a wide variety of situations. One area might have you doing straightforward work, croaking toads with your blaster while completing remedial jumps from one platform to the next, but others will beg the use of that tool between your ears, placing platforms in inconvenient areas or thrusting you into a circumstance where progress is not so obvious. Timing and thumb skill beat all, and your blood will boil every time you falter. One section on the blue planet has you switching to Blinky so you can blast through ice walls while jumping on giant snakes whose bodies act as platforms, all while avoiding the single-hit kills their massive heads provide. Bucky will not only test your platforming capabilities, it will test your aggression and wits. Simply jumping and fighting will not save you inside the Toad Armada mothership, particularly the rooms that shift clockwise. Hold still and you'll fall off the screen and wind up kissing machinery with your frail body down in the ship's depths. But it requires more than motion; it requires you to observe, think and act, planning out where to stand so that you eventually wind up with access to the exit.

Each scene plays out like a perilous mini-adventure, forming levels like rough and rugged trips through amusements park in hell. The adventure is stupendous, even if the combat is so-so.

Most of the difficulty stems from one-shot obstacles. There are a vast number of spikes, blades, electrical devices, giant snake heads... you name it, and it will kill you. It makes survival aggravating, but sweetens the victory all the more. Rising to the occasion and completing the task makes you feel more invigorated, reminds you that the best games are the ones that won't stop kicking.

It's not as though Bucky is without forgiveness. Death simply means respawning at the beginning of the segment rather than the beginning of the level, even at game over. The continues? Infinite. Passwords? Damn right. And yet this game will still give you a run for your money.

The only regrets I have in this affair are small compared to the whole. Though this is a run 'n gun, the combat is not exactly what you'd hope for. It gets the job done, serving modest blasting scenes with the occasional monkey wrench thrown into the cogs to complicate matters. One scene will have you blasting toads all while dodging giant invincible insects that burst from the floor and threaten to rend your mammalian flesh, another bumping off jetpacked toads while on an iceberg while a helicopter blasts chunks of it off. However, purely run 'n gun scenes are few and far between, taking a back seat to scenes involving platforms moving over a bed of spikes or the infamous Mega Man appearing/vanishing blocks.

It helps a little, though, that each character has different styles of shooting, Bucky deploying the standard blaster while Deadeye utilizes a spread shot like in Contra.

My last complaint: the end. So says Konami: “Let's make the last level a shmup!” Let's not. Things are just fine as they are. But no, instead you have to guide an awkward-shaped sprite down a long corridor and blast dull, simple waves of enemies while dodging walls and going at a moderate pace, all to get to a boss battle that ranks amongst the most infuriating in history: a transport ship that sports four side cannons with nearly unavoidable bullets and deadly rear thrusters, progressively scrolling around the ship in a counterclockwise direction. Just getting to the thrusters without dying is a feat in itself, and surviving long enough to cause the side cannons any damage is powerfully hard task.

I only managed to beat this boss recently because my hatred for it was so intense that I practically lived this game for a week solid. My schedule was thus: wake up, work, come home, fight transport ship for several hours, apologize to wife, sleep, repeat. I eventually emerged victorious, and all at the cost of valuable free time.

Bucky O'Hare is great fun. It's tough, but forgiving. It's like a hardened football coach who won't give up on you until you've got that ring... or you've given up and moved on with your life. Each segment is like a miniature quest, making every level a full blown adventure with loads of variety. It shows not only strong development, but a great sense of planning and creativity despite having some small flaws. Highly recommended for those who enjoy old school platformers.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (March 12, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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