This video game is based on the cartoon television series Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars under license from Hasbro, Inc. While it is generally classified as a scrolling fighting game, utilizing a Final Fight-esque landscape, the player's character is also armed with a laser gun, adding in elements of a scrolling shooter. However, if the character is extremely close to an enemy, he will throw out his fists to attack - a precursor to the characters featured in Metal Slug, who use knives in close combat. Much like the cartoon, Bucky O'Hare features colorful animation, and voice actors from the series were hired to participate in the game's cut scenes. The player chooses from five protagonists: Bucky O'Hare, the heroic rabbit captain of the space ship Righteous Indignation; Jenny, an "Aldebaran cat" and telepath; Dead-Eye Duck, a four-armed mallard; Willy, a kid from earth that replaced their engineer, and Blinky, a one-eyed android. As in the television series, the characters must stop the Toad Empire from invading extraterrestrial planets and enslaving their peoples; to do so they must shoot their way through an army of brainwashed toads to destroy their evil leader, a computer program known as "Komplex" and release the "Interplanetary Life Force." The enemies, among them Al Negator, Toadborg, Total Terror Toad, a "Cyborg Spider", the various varieties of Toad Storm Troopers, the Toads' Air Marshall, and "Komplex-2-Go" who featured in the comic book and cartoon series continuities.
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A shooter crossed with a Beat Em Up. Incredible music, beautiful vibrant colors, and a style of it's own. I love this game
Bucky O’Hare is a space cadet and the captain of the S.P.A.C.E. fleet waging war against the oppressive Toad armada reigning terror over the galaxy. On a mission to give the toads what for, the slimy bastards ambush Bucky and his crew. Bucky awakens from the turmoil with his four teammates landing on four separate planets. The air sergeant of the Toad army radios in to inform Bucky that if he doesn’t save his team members in time, they will become his brainwashed servants, licking the warty bootstraps of the imperialistic amphibians. Time really isn’t really of the essence for Bucky, for he gets to choose which planet he ventures to first on the menu. The level selection here will conjure up Mega Man in everyone’s minds, and it’s not surprising to see why. Besides the ability to select any level from the start, the game is a fast-paced 2D platformer and Bucky’s main offensive is a pea shooter gun. The game has met some stern criticism with liberally borrowing from Capcom’s flagship series, but plenty of other games from this era used Mega Man as an influence. Bucky O’Hare discerns itself from its inspiration enough to avoid any serious accusations. That being said, that one section of the Red Planet level is unashamedly copied from Quick Man’s stage in Mega Man 2.
While the appeal of playing as a furry, anthropomorphic animal with an Irish surname in space is exciting (just ask Nintendo), the allure of Bucky O’Hare’s game is extending the roster beyond just Bucky. Instead of acquiring new abilities after completing a level, one member of Bucky’s crew is available as a playable character. Games with multiple playable characters always suckered me in as a kid, explaining some of my nostalgic favorites. Given Castlevania III as an example, I fully understood that featuring a varied character roster was still in a primitive form and might not have been implemented very smoothly compared to the 3D games I grew up playing. Konami, the developers of both Castlevania III and Bucky O’ Hare, learned that transitioning between characters needed to be swift and effortless. That’s why the shift between Bucky and his team is a simple press of the select button, which cycles the characters in milliseconds. I wish the order of changing the characters was more organized and that I didn’t have to scroll through them like flipping through papers, but perhaps I’m asking too much from a game released on the NES. As it is, I’m satisfied that the game offers five total playable characters with unique attributes. Bucky is a relatively balanced character whose special ability is a high leap after holding down the attack button. Bucky is also the only character who can shoot straight up or down. Blinky, the one-eyed robot, shoots at a downward angle, and his pint-sized build allows him to jump through tight spaces easily. He can also propel himself upward with a jetpack and slightly control the trajectory for a short time. Deadeye Duck has a gun similar to the spread from Contra and can climb along surfaces like Grant from Castlevania. Jenny shoots lasers from her forehead and can summon an energy ball that the player only has slight control over. Lastly (or at least the last one that I unlocked), the dorky Willy DuWitt’s blaster does the most damage, especially when charged up like the ability from Mega Man. Having access to an entire posse of characters is one thing, but the fact that all of them have individual assets that contribute to getting through each level is astounding for an NES title. One grievance I have is that the ability to play the four levels in any order is an illusion because of the individualistic attributes of the characters. Blinky is the only character that can break/melt the ice blocks on the Blue Planet, so the player is screwed without him.
Unlike many of its NES and even its 16-bit contemporaries, Bucky O’ Hare does not possess too many primitive, unfair features that mar the pixelated era of gaming and make it inaccessible to a modern audience. The password system is certainly dated, but I’m still giddy at the game giving the player unlimited continues because so many other games didn’t. Bucky O’Hare also divides its levels by acts; if the player loses all of their lives, they get to continue from the start of that act. You know when the game stops and the screen shifts in Mega Man? Imagine those transitions as checkpoints, except with much longer swathes of time in between switching the screen to not make the game too facile. All the while, upgrades are plastered over every act in the shape of floating tokens. Besides the one solidly shaded token that I’m not certain provides anything of value, the others will extend every character’s maximum health until they continue, add extra lives, and upgrade the capacity for a character’s special move. The last one listed only lengthens the special meter for the one character that touches it, but it remains enhanced permanently for the remainder of the game. The developers gave the players a suitable number of potential support items to tackle this game, and it’s a total blessing.
Thank the lord that Bucky O’Hare doesn’t punish the player too severely because if the game adopted an arcade-like disciplinary method, the game would be practically unplayable. My biggest surprise playing Bucky O’ Hare is that the game is practically a precision platformer, a challenging subgenre of the 2D platformer made popular two decades after Bucky O’ Hare was released. Bucky and his gang of mercenaries have the physical constitution of a hemophiliac, as most obstacles in each level will kill them in one hit. Whether it be spikes, pistons, or globs of energy, most collisions will spell imminent death for Bucky and his friends. Each character also jumps at the base height of a white basketball player, so be prepared to tumble into the abyss countless times as well. Seeing the plethora of one-up tokens scattered about is laughable, considering all the players’ lives will burn through each act faster than butane on a bogroll. The player will hear that death jingle so often that it becomes maddening. Taking minimal damage from enemy fire or lasers is comparatively refreshing. The only time the player must concern themselves with the slow degradation of their health instead of collapsing in one hit is the boss battles, who tend to have collision detection pratfalls anyways. I can’t credit Konami as visionaries, even though Bucky O’ Hare predates any other precision platformer by a substantial margin of time. I think it’s just a factor of offering unlimited continues in a platformer that requires extreme attention to accuracy. The player will hanker for more punishment if the game doesn’t strip away their chances by giving them a strict game over. Checkpoints may come with every screen, but getting to those screens is a challenge in itself.
I have not seen the Bucky O’Hare cartoon series, nor have I read the source material of the character that is the comic. However, his only venture into the gaming medium kicks a lot of ass. Bucky O’ Hare is an energetic 2D platformer who borrows a tasteful amount from other games from the same genre without plagiarizing like other licensed games. The character roster is notably diverse, and the player can access plenty of perks to aid them like no other NES game before it. However, Bucky O’ Hare's leniency only sounds appealing on paper. In execution, it’s one of the strictest games I’ve ever played regarding how much rigor it demands from the player. Bucky O’Hare doesn’t deviate from NES difficulty; it changes the definition of it. If constant failure doesn’t sound too disheartening, Bucky O’Hare is a shining example of a 2D platformer on the NES.