The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout is one of the most empty platformers on the NES. Though it’s marginally less monotonous than Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, it is nonetheless an overly simplistic gaming experience that lacks depth, and is made all the worse by sickening visuals.
The premise of Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout is simple enough: There’s an upcoming celebrating honoring Bugs Bunny’s 50th birthday, and so Bugs sets out to attend his party. But the other Looney Tunes, jealous that they never got parties of their own, try to stop Bugs from making it to his party.
It’s silly, but I wouldn’t exactly expect a groundbreaking plot from a game called Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout anyway. Where things really go downhill is in the gameplay.
From first glance, Birthday Blowout looks like a mediocre platformer. Bugs runs, jumps, and hits enemies with a mallet. Nothing special, but nothing too bad. Or so it seems. It doesn’t take long before the game shows a great lack of polish.
For instance, Bugs’ jump seems oddly restrictive. Many of the platforms in the game are placed higher than Bugs’ jump can reach, leaving you to think that, just maybe, the developers could have spent a little more time play-testing the game.
Another problem is that, every time Bugs gets hit, stars fly over his head for a good few seconds, preventing him from using his hammer. What’s worse, the hammer is so short-ranged that you often get hit when you’re hitting something.
Even though you’re likely to get hit pretty frequently, don’t expect to die a whole lot. The game is almost insultingly easy, with levels really only amounting to going right and then facing off against an incredibly easy boss fight (which take the forms of other Looney Tunes) before moving on to the next, collecting carrots and hearts along the way.
The hearts obviously refill health, and you come across them so often that you rarely have to worry about being taken out by enemies. Meanwhile, the carrots (which shoddily look like squares with a carrot in the middle) are used to play a bonus game after each stage, with every ten carrots allowing for an extra try in the bonus game for a chance to win extra lives.
I will say, one thing I do like about the game is how after the carrots are grabbed, they become Warner Bros. logos that can be used as platforms. But that’s about as far as compliments go. Even the bonus game is a bit of a mess, being something of a roulette wheel/Bingo combination, with the goal being to stop the roulette at connecting numbers (connect three numbers horizontally, vertically or diagonally and you get an extra life). The problem is that the wheels fly through the numbers so fast that there’s no way to time it, and you basically just mash the button to stop the wheels and hope to get lucky (thankfully, it seems you can often win extra lives without even looking at the screen, so the randomness doesn’t always work against you).
What really hits the final nail in the game’s coffin is how hard it is on the eyes. Not only are graphics ugly, but the screen has a strange, jarring motion about it every time it scrolls. And jumping often causes this effect to get even worse. It really strains the eyes, and just makes things that much less enjoyable. There’s even a distinct lack of animation, with enemies just kind of dropping of stage after being hit with a hammer, and bosses barely flinching backwards when struck.
In case that weren’t bad enough, several stages in the game feature earthquakes, which makes the screen shake so badly you may get motion sickness. Worst of all are the oil drums in the game’s fifth world, which explode with a bright flash that’s really straining on the eyes.
Of course, the ugly visuals have to be coupled with sickening music, with the soundtrack being repetitive to the point of being obnoxious.
As a whole, Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout isn’t the worst game on the NES, but it is one of the really bad ones thanks to its empty levels, stupidly easy difficulty, grating music and stomach-churning visuals.
Bugs really deserved a better 50th birthday celebration than this.