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RELEASE DATE (NA): September 1990 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Be vewwy, vewwy quiet... I'm about to weview a poor game!

Bugs Bunny officially celebrated his 50th anniversary in the cartoon world in 1990. Yes, I'm rather late to report this news, but at least I'm getting around to it. Having been quite an influential character in the history of animation, that wascally wabbit deserved a heavenly celebration, one suitable for a celebrity of his caliber. Instead, he was subjected to a strictly by-the-book platformer that pales in comparison to others on the same console. That's not fair, is it?

In this game, though the storyline wouldn't be apparent without the storybook-style cutscene at the beginning, Bugs Bunny receives an invitation for his 50th birthday party. His "friends" are upset because they don't get a fancy shindig, and so they devise a plan to pretty much assassinate his cottontailed behind before he can get there. Of course, thanks to a half-assed attempt at a satisfying ending, we learn that all of his cartoon cohorts were merely playing tricks on him. Yeah, right. Elmer Fudd tries to blow his damn head off with a shotgun on several occasions. That hardly qualifies as a trick. "And for my next trick, I will make the head reappear in its entirety on top of his body!" Sure, Elmer. Use your time more wisely: go see a speech therapist.

You control Bugs Bunny as he traverses six different locales, including haunted caves, lush forests, and a desert. I'm not sure I understand WHY he would have to go that far for his party; it's very inconsiderate of the organizers. Could've held the party a little closer to his house. Or maybe it WAS really close and Bugs just took a wrong turn at Albuquerque! The only thing you have to defend yourself against the many baddies in your path is a gigantic mallet. I have to be right beside the enemy when you swing, of course, but its extremely short range makes your overall defenses very limited, especially considering it's the ONLY weapon you get. But what's worse is that when Bugs gets hurt, stars float around his head (à la every single cartoon ever devised) and you can't use your weapon. What kind of diarrhetic mechanic is that? You'd think that if you're getting injured frequently, you are MORE in dire need to defend yourself. But instead, you pretty much need to run the hell away. Of course, during boss fights, considering the awful range and slight delay of your mallet swing, it's more of a hassle than anything else. Give me a gun.

Someone should've given him more than a hammer for defense...

That all being said, The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout remains a pretty easy game to complete. Having been able to finish it in only one sitting while still having 67 extra lives remaining, I believe I've made a pretty apt statement. But I didn't try very hard to get those lives; they just came to me through bonus games. One plays somewhat like a Bingo game where you randomly select 5 numbers, and hopefully you can make a row of 3 or more to earn some extra Bugs Bunnies (make a row of 5 -- a rarity -- and you'll get an astonishing 50 extra lives). There's also a whack-a-mole style mini-game for earning more 1UPs. Both games cost a certain number of carrots to play, but they are quite abundant in every level, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to play. And it doesn't hurt that Bugs Bunny can actually take a fair amount of punishment -- up to 9 hits, depending on what obstacle is causing the damage (and more, if he finds a health replenishment item, naturally).

But I do have other qualms about this product. I can easily tell that the game engine must have been loved by many employees at Kemco because it has definitely been recycled, most notably three years later in the 1993 NES release, "Kid Klown in Night Mayor World." I'd prefer that it be scrapped, because there's a certain lame feel to both games in terms of gameplay AND visual appeal. And I don't mean lame as in corny. I mean lame as in crippled via defect. Sadly, the most interesting part of the game, graphically speaking, is the 3D rotating word "PAUSE" when you pause your game. The enemies, for the most part, have very little to do with Looney Tunes, which the exception of the end-of-level bosses, many of which are reused over and over again (but don't increase in difficulty). I should only be able to beat the feathers off of Tweety with my trusty gray mallet once before he is declared deceased, but he pops up at least four times. As well, the music, though always lively, can get annoying after being heard four stages in a row. But at least each world has its own song, and that's much better than some games I've played.

Though it could have been a great tribute, The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout is a mediocre game that fails to effectively capture the mirth and merriment of the license's origins. Considering his high level of fame the world over, doesn't he deserve better than to be attacked by his peers, not to mention walking clocks, oil barrels, ghosts, and floating hedgehogs? The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout is far from the worst game on the NES, but it won't stand out from the rest of the library in the long run.

And, sadly, this game is known in Europe as "The Bugs Bunny Blowout". Has a slightly more filthy tinge, doesn't it?

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