Review by Psycho Penguin

"Has Bugs Bunny ever been in a bad game?"

People have seem to developed some sort of hatred for an old NES game called Bugs Bunny Birthay Blowout. Unaware to the reasons why, I decided recently to pull out a copy of the game to see if it was really that horrible. After all, I distinctly remember enjoying the game a lot as a child. It certainly was never one of my favorites, but it made for some decent fun, especially when I was bored out of my mind.

After replaying it, I still don't see what all the fuss is about. This is certainly not a horrible game. It may actually be better than I once remembered it to be. I had an hour or two of fun playing through the various stages and mini games. While not on the upper echelon of elite games like Super Mario Brothers 3, Birthday Blowout is definitely a solid choice for the platformer fan.

The premise to the game is pretty simple, yet somewhat original in concept. Have you ever played a game where the main character is trying to get to his birthday party? I didn't think so. Bugs Bunny is trying to get to his 50th birthday party, since his friends were nice enough to throw him one. However, along the way, he has to go through a lot. That's where the game player comes in. The storyline, while not being over the top, is certainly original.

Birthday Blowout controls just like the average platformer. You go from stage to stage, collecting items and fending off baddies. However, Birthday Blowout throws some unique twists into the average gameplay formula which makes it a definite winner. For instance, you can collect carrots in each round. The more carrots you collect, the better shot of you landing in the bonus stage after you find the huge carrot to complete the stage.

The bonus stages are truly fun, despite being a little on the ''been there, done that'' side. I really love the ''whack a mole'' bonus game. I was yearning for the arcade here to implement a ''whack a mole'' game, so to see one in this game was definitely a good experience. The other mini game is basically bingo, you need to line up three in a row.

From the desert quicksands to the underground caves to the grassy terrains, there is a ton of variety in the stages here. Each stage presents an unique challenge. Some have you needing to transport via pipes. For those of you that have played Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, I don't need to tell you how cool this idea is. The enemies are awesome, but they have a major problem. Why the hell is Bugs fighting soap boxes to begin with? It just struck me as being a little strange.

Perhaps the worst element of the game is the controls, sadly. You have a weapon (mallet), which can be used to kill the enemies. However, if you sustain a hit, you will not be able to use the mallet for a few seconds. This seems okay at first, but it quickly gets annoying. You never really put it into your head that ''hey, I can't use the mallet, since I just got hit'', so chances are you will end up with more hits and a possible death. The rest of the controls are solid, especially since it's easy to do precision jumping.

I liked the graphics, but I can understand why people disliked them. They are very colorful, especially early on in the game. The backgrounds are VERY well designed, especially for a NES game. They are well varied, and the detail in some of them is simply phemonenal. For instance, check out the underground cave levels. The main problem I had with the backgrounds were they tended to repeat on occasion. It's not on the level of an Adventure Island, however, where the same background design repeated every few stages, so I'll let it slide. The animation is perhaps the worst part of the graphics, as Bugs will sometimes skip animation, especially when he has stars over his head.

Ah, now comes the moment you've all been waiting for. What do I think of the music? I don't neccesarily think it's as bad as it's been made out to be, but it isn't exactly the greatest video game song of all time, either. I think it's a lot like the Bubble Bobble theme in the fact that it sounds okay at first, then tends to get annoying pretty quickly. The sound effects are not so good, since they never seem to go in tune with what is actually going on in the gameplay. Why that is, I don't know. It probably has to do a lot with sloppy programming.

I found myself playing this game today after playing it a few nights ago, but I don't think I am going to go back and play it any more. If anything, the only thing that will keep me addicted is the awesome ''whack a mole'' bonus stage. Otherwise, due to the lack of secrets, and game length (20 stages), I don't see myself commiting long term to this game. It was definitely fun for a few days, however.

I was never able to complete this game as a kid, but when I replayed through it a few nights ago, I was shocked to see how easy it was to complete. Due to the insane amount of lives you can build up in the mini games, going through the game is way too easy. Some of the later stages prevent decent challenges, but even those can be avoided quickly. Worst of all, all of the bosses in the game are incredibly easy. I didn't know it was possible for bosses to be as easy as some of the bosses in this game are.

Despite some of the flaws, Birthday Blowout is a solid game with a lot of good points. While it may not be the most spectacular game on the market, it is not as bad as people claim it to be. The music is perhaps the most annoying part of the game in many people's eyes, but even that can be turned off if needed. So, there is really no excuse to at least try this game.

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Good Points
-I really loved the varied stage design.
-The storyline is actually more creative than you'd think.
-The game itself is a lot of fun to play.
-The fun and addictive bonus stages.
-Making a goal to collect every carrot in the game will add replay value.

Not So Good Points
-It's way too easy.
-The animation skips way too much, and the sound effects are off target. I call it sloppy programming.
-The music gets on a lot of people's nerves, so it may get on yours, too.
-The control has a basic fundemental flaw to it, in that you can't use your mallet after you get hit.
-There is not a lot of long-term replay value.

I Run Down The Game.. Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 6.8/10
Graphics - 7.2/10
Music - 4.1/10
Sound Effects - 3.2/10
Controls - 5.6/10
Gameplay - 6.9/10
Fun Factor - 7.2/10
Replay Value - Average
Challenge - Way Below Average
Game Length - 2 Hours
Is It Worth a Purchase? - Yeah.
Overall - 6.7/10

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... Seriously, the music isn't THAT annoying.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this game, and advise that you at least try it out. You may be surprised, too.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/02, Updated 03/21/02


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