Bucky O'Hare

Moby ID: 10573

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 82% (based on 23 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 27 ratings with 1 reviews)

Let’s croak toads! (Retch)

The Good
I guess I kind of missed out on Bucky O’Hare when I was a kid, not surprising when you consider I was only four when the cartoon started airing. In fact, I had never even heard of Bucky until I played this game, which is a shame. I’m sure I would have loved the hell out of the show when I was a kid, but it simply makes me retch now. The cartoon was based off of a comic book that was published in to mid-eighties. In the late-eighties to early-nineties, studios were pumping out shows starring animal characters, each attempting to tap into the success the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were having. Did Bucky O’Hare succeed? He didn’t make it past one season. On the bright side though, we did get this game.

I really don’t want to explain the premise of the show, but here’s the quick version: In an alternate universe called the aniverse (ugh) the Toad Empire is taking shit over. Bucky and his crew don’t like the idea of being enslaved by toads so they pretty much single handedly go around defending the aniverse’s citizens. At least, that’s what I gathered from the first one and half episodes, which Is all I could handle. The game’s plot has Bucky trying to save his crew who got captured, or marooned, or something. The plot isn’t very well handled, actually. The pictures shown in cutscenes never really seem to match their captions quite right. Whatever, though, this is the NES, we don’t need a story to enjoy the game.

On the surface, Bucky O’Hare looks like a clone of the Mega Man formula, but underneath it’s a clone of the Mega Man formula. I love Mega Man though, so I’m not going to fault the game for ripping off one of the best NES formulas ever. To its credit, it does bring its own things to the table. There’s a rad vehicle section, five playable characters with the ability to switch between them at any time, and uh, er, you can shoot upwards. Okay, so it’s pretty much Mega Man, right down to the disappearing blocks. Had it not been made by Konami, I probably would have believed that it was made by the same team that made the Mega Man series.

Despite ripping off another game, there’s a lot of talent and creativity on display. The levels are all very unique and varied, with few challenges repeating themselves. It keeps the game interesting straight through to the end. Some of the obstacles are incredibly creative and fun. Even the bosses are all very different and interesting. Best yet, it’s a pretty lengthy game, yet it never really seems tedious. I’m especially in love with the backgrounds, though for some reason they disappear for sections of a level, instead replaced by a plain black backdrop.

The technology on display is pretty immense. The graphics are excellent, but what’s really impressive are some of the effects they managed to pull off. There’s an area where you ride a little cart at a tremendous velocity. I had no idea the NES could even draw the background so quickly, it’s staggering. Other areas include some attractive simulated parallax scrolling. Amusingly enough, the parallax areas usually only last for one area, with the next area featuring the same background but with no scrolling due to system constraints. However, I feel I must keep my enthusiasm in check since this game came out in 1992, the year after the Super Nintendo was released. While this is a great example of what can be done on the NES with a little bit of programmer ingenuity, it was still obsolete by the time it was released.

The Bad
Although there are a lot of great ideas shown in Bucky O’Hare, they seem to be held together with spit and chewing gum. It’s solid enough in parts, but when you look at the overall product, something is amiss. For one, Bucky O’Hare features an absolutely mammoth life bar. Well, it’s not that big when you start, but all you need to do is power it up twice and none of the standard enemies in the game have a hope in hell of whittling it down. Plus, most enemies die in a single hit, making them even less of a threat.

This leads me to the game’s second problem. You’d think that having a health bar the length of three football fields would make the game easy, right? Well, unfortunately, the game has an instant kill fetish. I’m serious, Bucky and his friends die with the slightest pin-prick. It seems everything sharper than a Q-tip will kill you dead. To complicate things, a lot of the level hazards happen out of nowhere. Even worse, bosses often have at least one method of killing you instantly. The first boss I encountered killed me instantly with his first attack, even though I had no way of knowing how to dodge it the first time. In one particular area, if you don’t move for about three seconds, you’ll be killed by a hazard entering the screen. So, unless you’re clairvoyant, you’re going to die, a lot, and it’s going to get frustrating.

There are some strange design decisions going on in Bucky O’Hare. For example, you’re given two bars, one for you special power, and another for your health. Both can be upgraded by obtaining health and power tokens (or maybe they’re coins or medallions). What’s bizarre is that the health bar is shared among each of the characters, but if you die and have to continue, it’s reset to its default length. Inversely, each character’s power bar must be upgraded separately, but you don’t lose your progress if you have to continue. That’s screwed up, wouldn’t one way or another work just fine? There are other strange problems. If you hold down and jump, you can drop through certain platforms, which isn’t too strange. This becomes a problem when there’s an enemy below you, because the only way to shoot downwards is to jump and hold down. So, if you press down before you press jump, you’ll fall through the platform, possibly to your undeserved death. This isn’t a major problem, but it does make downward snapshots difficult and also illustrates a bizarre lack of polish in an otherwise solid game.

The localization could have been a whole lot better. The cutscenes and dialogue are riddled with typos and poor formatting. Some of the results are pretty hilarious, like how someone missed the word “kidnaped,” but for the most part, things are just confusing. At one point, the text says that a transport carrying Bucky’s crew to his ship was attacked, but above it, the scene shows Bucky’s ship, “The Righteous Indignation” being attacked. Speaking of which, the dialogue only seems to refer to his ship as “The Righteous” in plain block text which can be a bit confusing for someone unfamiliar with the show, considering that could mean something unrelated. Like I said before, 8-bit era plots are mostly unimportant, but Bucky O’Hare’s cutscenes are just sloppy.

I can’t help but wonder what went wrong in the development process that led to these oversights. Judging by what’s on display, Bucky O’Hare was crafted by a very talented team of developers, so most of these problems shouldn’t exist. They must have run in to some difficulty, whether they just couldn’t agree on some things, or maybe they ran out of time, or perhaps it was outsourced to another team to finish what they had in progress. It’s hard to believe that something can be so well done from a technical standpoint, but gets dragged down by a bunch of small nuisances. Perhaps a little while longer in QA would have been beneficial.

The Bottom Line
The state that Bucky O’Hare was released in is kind of sad. It’s not a bad game, nor would I say it’s unpolished, but someone screwed a few things up down the line. There are a lot of bruises that just shouldn’t be there and bring the whole package down. With that said, it’s the frustrating gameplay that brings it down the most. It’s not the most challenging game in the world, but there are sections that really try my patience. If you can get past that, then you’ll see a lovingly crafted game that displays a great deal of talent. Hell, I’d recommend it strictly because of the technical achievements. They aren’t anything that haven’t been done in an NES game before, but it’s always fun to see what can be done on the platform. Overall though, Bucky O’Hare is an OKAY game. If you’re a fan of the Bucky O’Hare cartoon or comics, you’ll probably enjoy the game a lot more than I did.

NES · by Adzuken (836) · 2010

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Havoc Crow, SlyDante, Alsy, RhYnoECfnW, VGManiac101, A H, Big John WV, Patrick Bregger, Alaka, Tim Janssen, Mr Almond, ☺☺☺☺☺.