Heyyyy! Captain Bucky O'Hare! Bucky O'Where? Bucky O'There! He's got Bucky O'Flair!
Better than Bucky O'Blair.
Ah, Bucky O'Hare, one of many anthropomorphic comic book characters of the 1980s, alongside other popular creations such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ThunderCats, and The California Raisins. Bucky O'Hare is a green hare — green for reasons yet to be discovered by me — who, alongside other animal sidekicks, form the Sentient Protoplasm Against Colonial Encroachment organization (or SPACE, for short) in an alternate universe (the Aniverse — thanks, creative wordplay) aboard his ship, The Righteous Indignation. Amidst the war between the ghastly Toad Empire and the United Animals Federation. Bucky and his buddies fight for justice and peace in the Oh, yeah, and they have a young boy with them named Willy who accidentally used a portal to fall into the Aniverse. What a wacky mish-mash of characters. Bucky O'Hare was turned into a Saturday morning cartoon in 1991, as well as a temporary video game superstar the following year. We haven't heard much from Bucky in a long time, so he is presumed dead.
Konami had cut their chops on arcade beat-'em-ups based on popular franchises before, with games likes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time and The Simpsons Arcade Game prior, so doing yet another was probably not a major challenge. As a result, Bucky O'Hare is a very competent title. Drop those golden tokens in, and you can select from four different characters: the emerald hopping hero Bucky O'Hare himself; his first mate Deadeye Duck, a crazy purple mallard with four arms and a severe fervor for killing toads; Jenny, a cat with psychic powers and a head of hair that could make Tammy Wynette jealous; and Blinky, a one-eyed robot with circuitry of gold. Together, they form the most badass team of characters with all the same moves that ever existed in the Aniverse!
I like that the introduction and the cutscenes between areas are completely voiced, something not often done in arcade games. Even the bosses have something to say, although their voices are often drowned out by the overpowering musical score. Konami really tried to stick with the source material as best they could. I will admit, however, that I grew tired of hearing Deadeye Duck's snide remarks. Yes, we get it, Duck: you want to whip out that gun of yours and fire holes in amphibian gullets. But have a little self-restraint, man! If you keep going on like that, they'll lock you up in the loon-y bin! Get it? Loon-y bin? Loon? Duck? Bird? Bad joke?
Unlike many of Konami's beat-'em-ups, this one plays out the same way, but all four characters primarily use lasers to defeat enemies rather than using their bare fists... or paws, or whatever. This is advantageous, as you can keep your distance while firing away, but at the same time, the majority of toadly and cybernetic enemies can also fire back, forcing you to dodge in addition to firing. The only real difference between the four characters lies in the special moves each possesses, though at the end of the day, they still cause the same effect on damaging all enemies on screen simultaneously, albeit with SUPER AWESOME SPECIAL PIXEL SPECIAL EFFECTS!
Another stage lifts your feet off the ground and places you in a hovering vehicle, more reminiscent of the surfing stages of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games or even the nasty Turbo Tunnel of Battletoads fame. There is even a point where you have to fly without a vehicle down a vertical shaft. These help break up and vary the gameplay a bit, even though, considering how short the game really is, there really isn't enough time in the game to grow weary of the action. And with up to four players on the go at once, you'll be too busy laughing and having a great time to become bored out of your mind.
I really like how this game looks. From the cutscenes to every in-game crony, from the colourful backdrops to the truly tumultuous toadly terrors, everything in Bucky O'Hare oozes with cartoonish charm, true to its roots. Though Konami had a few consistency errors with The Simpsons Arcade Game (such as the mysterious Double Selmas — the same character mirrored with a slight palette swap does NOT equate to Selma's sister Patty — or Bart Simpson's shirt being the wrong colour, just like all the other bad merchandise), Bucky O'Hare is a far more competent affair in the visual department.
It's just too bad that Bucky O'Hare didn't take off. I guess the idea of an Irish mutated jade bun-bun fighting space crime just wasn't the youth's cup of tea. You can tell that Konami put some love into this product, but it just didn't receive enough love back. If there is an arcade near you with this machine in it, huddle up a few buddies, slap some deodorant under their arms, and get ready to sweat as you bunker down with the S.P.A.C.E. crew for a good hour or so. It'll be jolly good fun.