Monday, November 5, 2012

Gaming Bucket List: Bucky O'Hare (NES)


Whenever life has me not feeling as powerful as I know I am I seek challenges to fill that void. You've heard the Mega Man story and this is like that. Over the weekend I just randomly started to play Bucky O'Hare for whatever reason. Usually this ends a rage quit of some sort on the Green Planet to save Blinky but not this time. This time I didn't and this is the story of what I found on my adventure to save the crew of the Righteous Indignation and save the Aniverse from the evil Toad menace.

So before we start on our adventure to save everyone let me confirm what you've heard is the truth. This game is hard. Damn! Fucking! Hard! The irony in that is there's a code to make the game even harder. Why would anybody want to increase the frustration is anybody's guess but you do have the option. This game is also the future pedigree for a group of developers you maybe heard me gush over once or twice called Treasure. Just saying. Being honest though most of the game's difficulty is due to design but at the same time the game is so overly fair. Generous checkpoints and infinite continues. Play, Learn Adapt & Evolve. PLAE is so prevalent in this game and because there's a small consequence for continued play (We'll get to that in a second.) that the game becomes more like a puzzle game to learn and understand what your options are and how to best execute them. Question is, what are those options and how do you best take advantage of them?

Glad you asked. When you start the game you start with the Captain of the Righteous Indignation, Bucky O'Hare. The rest of crew's been kidnapped by the toads except for Bruiser who isn't even mentioned at all and they've been stranded on 4 planets and it's up to Bucky to save them. The thing is there's a method to the madness similar to another game you've heard of...Megaman. Each of the rest of the crew members has a special ability that's pretty helpful and one that you need to even progress on one of the planets. So where do you start?

The smart choice is and will always be AFC (that's Android First Class) Blinky of course who happens to stranded on the Green Planet. The Green Planet is the only one that won't really give Bucky any trouble and doesn't require the special talents of the rest of the crew to get around seeing as Bucky's special power is a Super Jump. He is a hare after all. The honest reason you want to save Blinky first is 3 fold. First, Blinky's power allows him to charge his boosters making platforming a bit easier to manage. The second is that Blinky's shot allows him to break blocks made of ice and stone that the other characters just can't. This is important. Very, very important. I'll explain why in a bit. Thirdly is that because of his stature his hitbox is a lot smaller than the rest of the crew and this comes in handy... a whole lot. Saving Blinky first is a small but effective equalizer against the platforming that you come across. I always used Blinky for platforming segments unless the situation called for something he couldn't handle. The thing is once you save Blinky you can save everyone else because the game has a small problem if you don't do this first.

This goes hand in hand with the 2nd member of the crew I decided to save and that being Miss Jenny, (Nerd Note Here. If someone decides to run it back again please cast Jennifer Hale as Jenny. She'd be more than perfect to voice her. Just trust me. Thanks.) Thing is that you can't save Jenny without having Blinky first because there are blocks that only Blinky can break so if you choose this planet anytime before this point then the game ends. This was one of those bad design choices we spoke about earlier. It really makes no sense that this is a thing to begin with. I have to assume that people rage quit on this game because of simply this one thing. Shame you did because you're missing out. But now you know the fact of life is "DON'T CHOOSE THE BLUE PLANET BEFORE SAVING BLINKY!!!!" The only thing you need to know about the Blue Planet is that Blinky slips and slides so it makes platforming as him a bit harder so switch between him and Bucky to make that a bit easier. Make it through all of that and you save Miss Jenny. Jenny from here on in will be your "sniper support." Jenny's shot is great because of its very long range and is good for clearing obstacles so Blinky can handle doing the platform thing he's built for. She can also charge her shot to give her self a Telekinetic Energy Ball. Referred in the game as a "Toad Turbo Ball." Just for I'm a fan sake, Jenny's a hot anthropomorphic psychic cat. That's her power. Let us never discuss it again.

After saving Miss Jenny I ventured to the Red Planet to save Deadeye. The Red Planet is my favorite for the simple fact of not only a Quick Man segment but there's a nod to Life Force as well. For the record Salamader > Gradius, have a wonderful day. With all that being said the Red Planet isn't that bad outside a jumping puzzle that had me stuck for a second. After taking care of that Deadeye Duck rejoins the crew and he's pretty much Bucky except instead of a super jump Deadeye can climb walls and a 3 Way Shot that fires at 45°, 90° & 135°. These two abilities don't come in handy right now but Deadeye will be pulling a lot of weight to come. Trust me on that.

With that business out of the way we hit the Yellow Planet to save Willy. This stage is wild and a lot of learning will be done here. This stage wants you to die. A lot. All you need to remember here is wait until things come to a complete stop and when you think it's safe please duck. This will save you a lot of frustration. Successfully make it through that and you'll in turn save the Righteous Indignation's lone human member Willy DuWitt. Willy is another Bucky clone except his weapon the Thumber can cut through multiple enemies and he can charge it. Just know that charging the Thumber is never a good idea except once and even then that's a gamble. You can choose at this point to put Willy on sniper detail or even switch to saving him before Miss Jenny if you'd like but that's a you choice and I'll leave that up to you.

OK. We've saved everybody but the Toad menace is still out there and they're not done with us. We're taken aboard their ship and separated from everybody. You start this part of the game with Bucky & Blinky and you're now faced with a decision you didn't even know you had. Do you save the rest of the crew again? The only crew member you have to save is Deadeye because the game forces you to more or less. Jenny and Willy are optional purely by accident to skip and not save but you want the whole family in tow so make sure to find them all. In a Mega Man twist you do have to fight them because they're currently brainwashed. The only hard battle is the first if you find Miss Jenny. Beating her is a tag team effort between Bucky & Blinky. Bucky can shoot up, down and through floors so take advantage of that factor. And when Jenny gets on the center platform you can line Blinky up for some potshot action without much danger to you. After saving Miss Jenny venture forth and find Willy. Bring out Jenny to take care of Willy with no problem. And then when you find Deadeye switch to Willy and he goes down in no time. The family that shoots each other stays together I guess.

From here on in the game gets crazy with the platforming and boss fights. Knowing your team is the only key to victory here. Without it you won't win. That actually goes for most team activities. Keep it in mind. The one thing I will drop knowledge on is this. The last stage is a SHMUP section and knowing your team is key here as well. Bucky can shoot from the front and the back. He'll be the main one you'll be using during this section. Blinky's shot here isn't useless as much as you don't need it. His hitbox is a tad reduced so keep that in mind. Miss Jenny still has her shot from the platforming section and so does Willy without the charge feature. Willy > Miss Jenny in this instance. No reason to use her at all here. Deadeye still has his 3 Way Shot and this is major to understand because this makes one of the bosses you fight a whole lot easier to take down so please keep it in mind. If you can make through all the game can dish then CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU!!!! I do have to say that beating this game is a feather in my old school cap and I will be coming back to it again soon. Don't know if I'll ever have the courage to do a playthrough for #RunDatReXXX but you never know.

We do however have something else I do need to speak on and that's the gameplay flow. The thing about that is that the consequence for learning and the inevitable dying that will take place is that when you finally figure it out you have to do it stricter confines because of how the game works.

You have 2 important commodities in which you have to manage, the Life Meter and the Power Meter. Throughout the game you'll see and acquire Life and Power pickups that boosts both meters. The Life one of course boosts your Life Meter and the Power version extends the Power Meter for Special Abilities. The design flaw here is as follows. Once you pick up a one for your Power Meter that pick up disappears from the game forever or at least until you reset and for whatever reason the Life version is the complete opposite however. This is when learning about the game goes on a complete slant. Like I mentioned earlier that whole "You gonna die a lot" thing and when you do your life meter is reset back to normal upon you continuing. So dying becomes major especially when you're in a boss fight because as you're figuring out what to do you're dying and continuing and when the light bulb does come on you don't have the room to take that extra hit and seeing that invisibility time is practically non existent is you'll take multiple hits and die quickly. On the flip side though at least for me was figuring it out in those confines made the wins all that sweeter with the added edge of difficulty that problem brings.

Maybe if those issues were addressed that it would be a more accessible game and more people would give it a go. The thing is that it wouldn't be the same game I'm proud to say I beat with no help whatsoever. I'm so glad I took this on and just as much to share the journey with you guys now.

Before I go, let me make sure to mention how great this soundtrack is. This is a Konami game so I'm not surprised at all however that doesn't mean I get the opportunity to downplay how great it is.

So go and give this one a shot and don't rage quit when it doesn't go your way. I've given you the tools so it's on you play this awesome game and execute. If I can then so can you. Have fun!!!

LET'S CROAK SOME TOADS!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Triple Da God

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