The NES had its fair share of licensed games for popular cartoons and movies. The most popular of these were generally made by Capcom and their Disney line-up which many of us know and love but Konami was in on it as well, particularly with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a bevy of other licensed games though they were more in favor of arcade style beat-um ups. They got some rather obscure titles (anyone remember Cowboys of Moo Mesa?) and Bucky O'Hare was certainly obscure. So obscure it came out after the show's run had already ended at 13 episodes. So for those not in the know, what was Bucky O'Hare? I'll let the epic opening tell you what Bucky O'Hare was:
Kind of gets you pumped doesn't? It is also pretty much the perfect set-up for a videogame premise. Who doesn't love space, space-faring animals and shooting stuff? Throw in some platforming and hard as heck difficulty and you get a cult classic videogame.
Bucky O'Hare and his crew have been attacked by the evil toads and his crew has been captured and are being held on four color-coded planets. It is up to you, Captain Bucky O'Hare, to rescue your crew and use their unique abilities to rescue the others and take down the toad menace. Let's croak us some toads!
Bucky O'Hare at its core is very Mega Man-ish in a lot of ways. Initially you can select from 1 of 4 themed planets (fire, ice, jungle, mechanical) wherein you rescue one of 4 crew members and use their powers to rescue the others. Their individual abilities are:
- Bucky (a green rabbit) has a straight-shot (like Mega Man) and can also charge up for an extra high jump. - Blinky (little robot dude) shoots an arc shot that can break ice and stone blocks and can hover for a short time after charging up. - Jenny (a cat) has a fast moving attack and can charge a hovering, controllable shot that can attack enemies at a range. - Deadeye (a duck) has a short range spread shot and when charged can climb walls for a period. - Willy (a nerd) has a strong gun that can be charged up to be very strong shot.
Once you have all 5 you can switch between them in real time with select to best traverse each stage. Each character does handle a bit differently so figuring out the best to use in each situation is important. Especially in the 2nd half of the game.
Bucky O'Hare is also considered to be on of the hardest games ever to grace the NES. And for the most part it does live up to that reputation but with one difference from a lot of other hard NES games, I'd also consider it to be one of the fairest very hard NES games ever. The main reason is that while yes you will die a lot, the game never brutally punishes you for sucking. So you won't spend an hour busting your ass to get the boss of that stage only to lose and have to redo large chunks of the stage just to get back to it (I'm looking at you Ninja Gaiden). This goes for losing lives and game overing as when you continue you will just restart the most recent act. The levels themselves are also fairly devious as well. Whether they are throwing lots of enemies and bullets at you, making you move quickly ala Quick Man's stage or putting you on fast moving platforms and stages that will require precision kind of like Battletoads. With unlimited continues the overall frustration factor with Bucky O'Hare is high but not to the point where you'll want to curse all those associated with it to the 9th circle of hell (see Guillaume & Adventure Island). The REAL bad one. And if you are really looking for a challenge, there is apparently a code that makes the game even harder and I have no interest in finding out what that entails.
Obviously Konami is about as synonymous with the NES as Capcom is and while Bucky O'Hare isn't the best looking game they ever produced it is still a good looking game. The player characters are all recognizable from the cartoon and each stage has its own distinct look. And despite the game's penchant for throwing lots of bullets at you the game never slows down. The enemy graphics are little generic and underanimated but they are just shooting fodder so they do their jobs.
The audio is also quite good though nothing as memorable as some Capcom's licensed efforts they are fast paced and never get particularly grating even after you spend a lot of time in a stage, death after death after death. But they probably won't stick in your head as, say, Duck Tales. Sound effects are general gun shots and explosions, nothing spectacular or bad. Just does it job well.
If you like hard games that punch you in the teeth but also will pick you up and dust you off all friendly like, you'll probably enjoy Bucky O'Hare. It is classic platforming by one of the NES's best 3rd parties and another fantastic licensed game for the NES. It comes fairly cheap and provided a great amount of variety and difficulty while not feeling like a grind. And since I am having trouble figuring out to close this, lets see that opening one more time.
I haven't run into Bucky O'Hare in the wild, but this is one I'd pick up if I ever came across it.
Have you ever played Whomp 'Em? That is another Mega Man Clone. I wonder how many more are out there.. Hmmmmmm.. I'd like to point out that I've opted NOT to listen to the opening credits because I want to sleep tonight without it playing through my dreams, which is totally would.
--And the list of people who were caused great frustration by Adventure Island is NOT limited to Gui.
Let me paint you a picture: 15 hours of power time No saves The game ends at 8-4 You get to 8-3 and can't beat it after trying for literal hours You have to turn it off because you go to work soon..
Yeah, I liked the premise of Bucky O'Hare. I remember there was quite a build up to the launch of the show, like this might be the next Ninja Turtles or something. But I thought it was just a confused mess, at the time. My fandom with Bucky O'Hare was over after about 3 weeks.
I wouldn't say it is confusing. Most of the stages are straightforward with usually only one way through each part. Well except level 5 which has you wandering all around looking for your crew (after level 4 they all get captured...again) and there are dead ends and such. But otherwise pretty linear.
Admittedly that video, as well as a few others, put me in the mood to find Bucky O'Hare and pick it up when I came across it. And as luck would have it I found it pretty shortly after that video was made. I'm on the look out for rest of them though I already have Clash at Demonhead and Guardian Legend
Haha I didn't even consider that you might have played this because of that video. I just thought it was weird hearing about this really old game based on a fairly obscure TV show twice in such a short span of time.
Yeah a lot of my classic game collecting, especially obscure ones, is usually informed by various reviews and lists like this. Shows like the Happy Video Game Nerd, Pat the NES Punk, Roo's 16-Bit Gems and basically the rest of RetrowareTV as well as stuff on YouTube are good resources for finding out about games that were overlooked and unappreciated back in the day.
Nice review Chris! Oh man, I remember the Bucky O'Hare franchise, as short-lived as it was. As a kid, I was bombarded by ads for the TV show, for the game, and... I vaguely remember the comic book. Anyway, it's nice to hear about this Konami NES game, I would definitely love to give it a try.
Oh yeah, the cartoon intro gets me pumped! It's one of those songs that occasionally plays back in my head for some reason, haha.
I barely remember Cowboys of Moo Mesa. Man, what an abscure cartoon that is to recall!