The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
Review by Retro
"Why this game is so bashed, I don't know"
That waskely wabbit who calls himself a stinker and who constantly erodes the egos of such characters as Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck in the classic Looney Tunes cartoons, has turned 50 years old. What better way is there to celebrate this unforgettable landmark than to give the pesky rodent his due by throwing him a birthday party?
Feeling young at heart, Bugs walks from his comfortable house to his mailbox, looks inside, and pulls out a surprise birthday party invitation from his fan club. Bugs Bunny can already smell that delicious carrot cake from hundreds of miles away, and there's no doubt that he is jumping up and down with glee on the inside, but his fellow Looney Tunes 'friends' are doing nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, they're just plain jealous. Nobody has ever thrown a party in their honor! Why does this prank playing, hole digging, part-time cross dresser get all the attention?! As an attempt to keep him from reaching his own birthday party, many of the other famous cartoon characters set out to make Bugs's journey a difficult, if not deadly one.
Bugs has had gray hair for as long as anybody can remember, but even though he's now half a century old, he doesn't show any signs of aging. The classic wabbit is still in great overall shape; he can still do things such as walk upright on two feet, jump as if springs were built into his legs, eat carrots by the acre load, and skillfully make any of his opponents angry at the very mention of his name. Indeed, he still has a lot of pep in his step!
Apparently, the well-drawn cartoon figure has also developed a brand new skill. From start to game over, Bugs Bunny can swing a mallet (I'm going to call it a hammer in this review) with almost as much precision as Mark McGwire swung his bat in the home run derbies. He better hope he keeps swinging it with dead-on accuracy, because it's the only weapon he'll have throughout the game. Bugs will be using this silver hammer on a few breeds of enemies and on other things such as seesaws and rocks, as he travels by foot through many different well-designed levels.
Bugs Bunny's main mission is to make it to the end of each level and then collect the humongous carrot that is lying around lazily, which will then turn into a hot air balloon that he will ride to the next level. The adventure that the long-eared rodent takes part in will take him through desert-like environments full of tumbling rocks and lava that's as red as blood, lush forests that hold poisonous frogs and trees with extremely fragile limbs, haunted underground caves lurking of falling spikes and drowning waterfalls, and more!
After failing to capture and/or control the energetic rabbit for several years, Bugs's fellow colleagues knew that they couldn't stop the troublesome animal dead in his tracks by themselves. For this reason, they've hired several other kinds of enemies that nobody else has ever seen before. Among these new faces are flying ghosts with a mischievous smirk on their face, soapboxes that shoot soap bubbles into the air, walking hammers that jump, stop & go worms (you can go through them without damage while they're green, but not while they're red), and others. As expected, there are also a few natural hazards to hop out for. You wouldn't want to fall off the side of a ledge with no solid ground underneath you, or jump feet first into piercing spikes, now would you? No, so try not to do it too much to Bugs Bunny.
As you might suspect, since Bugs Bunny is a bunny, he has a 24/7/365 (24/7/366 on leap years) craving for carrots. As the player, you'll need to make the slender, gloved rabbit collect as many of the carrot icons as you can. You won't be doing this to ease the grip that hunger has over Bugs, but rather for the chance to play either one of two kinds of short but sweet bonus games that present themselves each time you complete a level.
At the end of most levels, you'll encounter bonus rounds that consist of a bingo card with 25 squares, counting the star square in the middle that automatically counts. In exchange of ten carrots, you'll be given an attempt at getting at least three numbers in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Doing so will earn you an extra life. The last, and best type of bonus stage, is the classic Whack-A-Mole game that you've probably seen at Chuck E. Cheese's or other decent arcades. The more moles that you show the meaning of the word, migraine, to, the more extra lives you'll rack up.
As I mentioned before, when you get to the end of most of the levels, an overgrown carrot will be waiting there for you to pick up. However, at times, Bugs will have to dodge or defeat a boss before he can progress any further. Tweety likes playing peek-a-boo behind a thick clump of grass; Elmer Fudd wants to capture Bugs Bunny inside a net and then take him home for a nice rabbit stew; Yosemite Sam just feels like shooting the varmint to death. But that's not even half of the Looney Tunes characters that will make a cameo or two during your quest!
For the most part, Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout has really good graphics. The screens at the beginning of the game that show you what the story is all about, and other parts, such as certain screens in-between levels, look exactly like a real cartoon that you would watch on TV. The levels and bonus stages are all well designed with impressive layouts, nice backgrounds, and colors. Just as impressive are the characters themselves. Most of the enemies look good, but the Looney Tunes characters are the standouts. You'll immediately know such icons as Elmer Fudd, Sylvester, Taz, etc., as soon as you see them. Most of them (but not all) have decent animation too.
Alright, the thing about the game that seems to be a lot of people's least favorite when it comes to Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout is the sounds. I like most of the sound effects well enough, such as when Bugs uses a warp, and the sound of blocks bursting, but a few of them (the sound of getting hit) sound a little bad.
The game's music is the attribute of the game that gets the most heat, and I can see why. There are not very many tracks to be heard at all. In fact, the same tune plays throughout a whole world (i.e., the same music will play during all the forest stages, and it won't change to a different track until you reach the next set of levels). On top of that, most of the tracks loop around after about ten seconds. However, it may just be me, but I've always found the tracks (even with their being overplayed and looping around every few seconds) to be pretty catchy. I sometimes hum along to the tunes, and even when I'm through playing the game, they remain stuck in my head and won't come out!
The controls are just like they should be, for the most part. It's simple to make the hairy varmint jump exactly where you want him to, and doing most everything else, such as climbing ladders and using warps, is a cinch. My only complaint is that it can take awhile before you have the hammer's timing down pat. You'll have to judge how far away the enemies should be from you before you swing your hard-hitting hammer to avoid damage to yourself, but you'll master that skill in no time. Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout's challenge is perfectly even, and the controls won't make it harder for you.
Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout seems to be a game that's bashed more than it's praised. If that's the case, then I'll never understand it. Seriously, the game does have a few things that many people might not like about it. The gameplay doesn't seem to be based much on the Looney Tunes cartoons (Bugs isn't exactly known for carrying around a hammer all the time, or for battling against floating fireballs, walking soapboxes, or living alarm clock bombs); every time you get hit, you can't use your hammer for a few seconds (it mentions this in the instruction booklet, so it's not a glitch); and there's not much of a variety to the game's music. Those may be huge, damaging flaws for some people, but to me, they've never mattered a whole lot.
I don't know what it is, but the game is just plain addictive. The fact that it's a platformer is a big plus too, since that's easily my favorite genre of video games. Also, the developers did something intelligent by including two widely known and very well liked games as the bonus rounds (Bingo and Whack-A-Mole). Sometimes I find myself wanting to play the game from start to finish in order to play the bonus rounds, and at other times I'm just in the mood to experience the fun platforming action that Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout possesses. If you like platformers, give the game a chance. Maybe you'll be one of the ones that enjoy what it has to offer. I know I do!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/01, Updated 02/23/03
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