Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
In 1990, Kemco released a Warner Brothers licensed video game cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System starring a cast of Looney Tunes characters. This was Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout; a classic, even formulaic, platformer that had the player controlling Bugs Bunny throughout. Was this game any good?
This NES adventure follows the two-dimensional 8-bit platform standard: The A buttom jumps, the B button attacks (with a mallet, in this case, as is appropriate for a Looney Tunes cartoon character), and good ol’ Bugs must avoid enemies and hazards like bottomless pits, spikes, and precision-jumping obstacles, often with moving platforms
The “story” is that it is B. B.’s 50th birthday (and he sure is spry for a 50-year-old guy) and, in his rush to get to his big birthday party bash, he seems to run into all kinds of trouble, including all of his famous friends like Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, and others attacking and trying to kill the legendary rabbit.
The control is fairly tight, and Bugs is able to jump pretty high, which only makes sense for a rabbit in a cartoon world. There are some enemies he can jump onto and stand on without taking damage, and he can collect carrot icons for points. The end of each stage is a boss battle with another one of the Looney Tunes line-up, though this almost always just consists of the character moving back and forth, possibly also jumping, all in a regular pattern Bugs must merely avoid and counter with mallet attacks. The only exceptions are minor character traits like that Yosemite Sam fires his pistols at Bugs, or that Foghorn Leghorn is big and invincible so you must beat Henery Hen instead.
For an 8-bit title, Birthday Blowout looks decent. The environments and elements are colorful, the WB toons are recognizable, and the NES could have done much worse. Otherwise, though, this is not a game that stretches the console to its limits or goes anywhere truly revolutionary with its presentation.
The sound effects are bland and the music is atrocious, like elevator music given a pep pill and made more annoying high-pitched and upbeat. Reviewers on sites like GameFAQS have humorous comments regarding the music, like “This game is great – if you mute your television.” Seriously, the soundtrack is repetitive, low-quality, and ear-grating.
For a license title, Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout actually does deserve some credit for crafting a somewhat potentially fun little platformer. The enemy designs are original in some portions, albeit random, including a selection of foes that consist of inanimate objects made aggressive. One interesting point is that, at certain portions of the game, Bugs Bunny can descend into rabbit holes by pressing the down button, in a sequence similar to the pipes found in Super Mario games.
When all the factors are boiled down (into rabbit stew, you could say), Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout is an average game, almost archetypically so. It is a playable platformer, that actually had some effort put into it as a license-game cartridge, and shows some solid level design; however, the music is nightmarish, the gameplay never progresses to any sort of play experience beyond what you see on the first level anyway, and the bosses are uninspired. In addition, spoiler alert: The ending is notoriously odd and seemingly misguided, with all of Bugs Bunny’s “friends” revealing that they are the ones hosting the birthday party and their earlier attempts to kill them was just a funny joke or something contrived like that. Blowout hammers home two and a half stars out of five. The cartoons were more entertaining.