Bugs Bunny on the NES

Names: The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle and Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout
Developer/Publisher: Kemco
North American Release: August, 1989/September, 1990
Console: Nintendo Entertainment System

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This piece starts all the way back in 1940, 82 years ago as of this writing, when the world was formally introduced to an animated rabbit by the name of Bugs Bunny. What was merely one part of the Looney Tunes cast brought to life by the vocal stylings of Mel Blanc would become one of the most enduring names in entertainment of the last century. In fact, apart from rival Disney’s Mickey Mouse, there’s no one other character to have reached the heights (“And oh what heights we’ll hit!” sorry, couldn’t help myself) of sustained fame as the Rascally Rabbit and his pals. In fact, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Gen Y/Millennials, and Gen Z/Zoomers might have their differences and heated disagreements about everything, but one thing they all have in common is that if they had a TV in their home, odds are they were parked in front of it when Looney Tunes was airing during their respective childhoods.

Whether you remember the Tunes best from the aforementioned shorts, their more musical endeavour known as Merrie Melodies, the later compilation efforts like The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, or more current offerings like The Looney Tunes Show and Space Jam, the fact remains that you remember them. Inspired by silent movie era comedy stars like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, the Looney Tunes’ slapstick antics became the template and standard for comedy cartoons for decades. Through their animated efforts Mel Blanc, Friz Freleng, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, and company entertained millions of people of all ages across the globe every Saturday morning for the better part of a century.

It wasn’t just Saturday Morning cartoons and the occasional movie that put the Looney Tunes on the map, though. Much like Disney, Warner Bros. were all about the marketing and merchandise, and Bugs and the gang seemingly appeared everywhere that their faces could be affixed. Starting in 1985, they even became the primary mascots of Six Flags theme parks, Disney’s primary theme park rivals. You might notice that I keep mentioning Disney, and it’s for good reason: Licensing. Disney and the Warner Bros. have always kept their characters apart from one another, and efforts to present them together have largely only been the stuff of fantasy. Most of that is due to cost, granted. It isn’t cheap to license from either company, so most third parties in the market to do such simply cannot budget for both. The other reason is exclusivity. Disney and Warner typically aren’t too keen on sharing with one another and if it does happen, there are caveats from both sides to the point of absurdity. But sometimes, once in a blue moon, opportunities arise.

One of those opportunities came in the form of video games.

You see, during the second generation of video game consoles, (the primary examples of such being the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Colecovision) video game publishers started branching out beyond their own intellectual properties (or IPs, for short) and began looking at existing IPs from other mediums to bring to the video game market. The reason for that is simple: while original video game IPs like Space Invaders and Pac-Man were popular in their own right amongst early video game enthusiasts, console makers and video game publishers in general are always on the hunt to expand their audience. What better way to do that than by license existing IPs from other mediums? Some IPs lent themselves easily to the video game world, particularly stuff from the sci-fi and fantasy genres like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Other IPs, like M*A*S*H and the now-infamous E.T. The Extra Terrestrial on the other hand… Well, those took some creative thinking to convert to the video game format.

 

With quality being notoriously lax and the market ripe with over-saturation during the second generation of games, the video game crash of 1983 happened, nearly taking the entire industry with it. There’s enough material on the big crash of ’83 that it doesn’t need to be covered here in much detail, but there was a point of even bringing it up in the first place: major entities with IPs that video game publishers sought to bring to the video game world had become understandably reluctant.

Not that Warner held out entirely, mind you.

Enter Nintendo and their Famicom console, known everywhere else as the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. With their quality-focused approach to video games, Nintendo sent their console into the world with an early library of quality games like arcade ports of Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Popeye and new titles like Super Mario Bros., Excite Bike, and Duck Hunt that restored consumer confidence in the struggling and shaken industry. Apart from their own games, Nintendo began to pay attention to trusted third party publishers and the games they were making for their console in a way that the second generation of console makers simply had not. After the launch of the NES, Nintendo began to roll out their strategy even further to more third party publishers. This deliberately cautious rollout payed off and faith in home consoles was restored not just for consumers, but for IP holders as well.

Among Nintendo’s third party publishers was Capcom, known primarily until then for its arcade cabinets. Even in the rudimentary early days of the NES’ life, Capcom was a standout, having hits on their hands as publishers/developers with 1942, Commando, and Ghosts ‘n Goblins out of the gate. Shortly after, they brought Rockman into the world, or as he would be known outside of Japan: Mega Man. The games surrounding the little blue robot were integral to cementing Capcom’s status as a top-tier publisher/developer, and resounding sales figures for their burgeoning library of home console games only further assured potential IP holders that Capcom were to be trusted to bring their characters to the video game world.

Disney certainly took notice of Capcom’s successes, and for the first time in three generations of video game consoles, they extended a license for their IPs to be given the video game treatment… Outside of Japan. Within Japan, the copyrights were a different matter.

The thing with copyright laws is that while they are generally the same in terms of what they cover from country to country (with exceptions like China notwithstanding), what one copyright or license might allow in one country, might not necessarily carry over to another country. Such is the case with Capcom and Disney. See, Capcom had the licensing rights for Disney characters in both Japan and North America, and released the game Mickey Mouscapade in both regions (March of ’87 in Japan, October of ’88 in North America). However, around that time, a second company in Japan was issued a license for Disney’s IPs. That particular license did not extend to North America, though.

That secondary company? The Kotobuki Engineering and Manufacturing Co., or Kemco for short. At the time, they were a relative newcomer to video game publishing and developing, having only emerged at the dawn of the third gen of video game consoles. Prior to acquiring their Disney license in Japan, Kemco’s library consisted of only a few titles, like the Japan-only in-house projects Space Hunter and Toki no Tabibito: Time Stranger. In North America, their output on the NES by 1989 was a Superman game, and publishing First Star Software’s video game adaptation of the Mad Magazine comic Spy vs. Spy. It wasn’t a deep selection, but it did boast two non-video game IPs that were under the DC Comics umbrella, which itself was owned by (at the time, anyway) Warner Communications. Yes, the same Warner that owned Bugs and his pals.

“Wait, Chris, what was all that stuff about Disney if Kemco already had a license from Warner and this article is about Bugs Bunny games?” you might be thinking. Well, Kemco were in the process of bringing two titles to fruition in Japan that had Disney characters in them. The first was a game just called Donald Duck. A loose sequel to a British computer game called Alternative World Games, Donald Duck saw the aforementioned waterfowl and other Disney characters competing in an Olympic-style series of non-Olympic, pedestrian or outright odd games like sack racing and pizza balancing. The license for using those characters was only good in Japan, and Kemco wanted to use it, even if they wanted that game released elsewhere. So, what were they to do for North American markets? Get the license for Bugs Bunny since they already had relations with Warner? No, of course not, they went and got the license for Snoopy of Peanuts fame.

On this side of the Pacific, we know this game as Snoopy’s Silly Sports Adventures. It’s not regarded as much of a game, but it exists for the trivia of its Disney origins, if nothing else.

The other game in Kemco’s bag of tricks had two versions being made. One was for the NES, and the other for Nintendo’s shiny new handheld console, the Game Boy. The Game Boy version was set to star Mickey Mouse, while the NES version was to be released with a rabbit as the main character.

What? Not the cartoon rabbit you were thinking of?

Kemco had licensed Roger Rabbit from Disney for the NES version, who had acquired a broad set of rights from Gary K. Wolf, a novelist who wrote a murder mystery called Who Censored Roger Rabbit? Disney made a movie only loosely based on this novel called Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and it was their depiction of the character that Kemco then licensed for their video game just called Roger Rabbit. Still following? Copyrights and licensing, an apparent pain to keep track of, but as an author, I endorse it.

But wait, we got a little more confusion to add to the mix! This Roger Rabbit game is not to be confused with LJN’s game released in North America. That game is its own thing, and more closely based on the movie. Kemco’s Roger Rabbit uses the likenesses, but has nothing to do with the movie. In fact, the Kemco Roger Rabbit game was responsible for spawning an entirely different game series, one that wouldn’t get a title until Kemco brought the game to North America.

Oh, and before I go further, remember when I said that Mickey and Bugs rarely appeared together? Well, the movie version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit is that “rarely”. Bugs appears alongside Mickey for a single scene and it’s only beside one another, for the exact same amount of screen time, that either character is in the whole movie. Neither one gets an extra second without the other present. As you can guess, that was one of those caveats I also mentioned earlier.

Given that Capcom had the license for Mickey and a host of other Disney characters, and LJN had gotten their hands on Roger Rabbit, Kemco couldn’t bring the game across the sea until they had a different character to star in both the NES and Game Boy ports of their new game. Given that, and what they could get, the king of Saturday Mornings got the call.

FINALLY

Upon hitting North American shores, both versions of the game had been retooled with Bugs as the player character and Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, and Daffy Duck cast as his villains. It also had a full title: The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle.

Crazy Castle is at its core, a scrolling platformer, akin to the aforementioned Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man series’. How it differs from either, is that it removes the ability to jump (I know, you’re a rabbit that can’t jump, but try to not to think about that too much) and replaces it with a maze-like, puzzle experience. The goal of the game is to rescue Lola Bunny (because of course it is), and the means of getting there is by finding all the carrots in each of the sixty levels you play. The levels are laid out to scroll either vertically or horizontally (the latter of which was pretty neat for a NES game) and you can explore them freely to discern the best way to secure all the carrots in a given level. The levels are further laid out with stairs in mind. There are staircases that you climb from left to right from the player’s viewpoint of the screen. These can be either solid, meaning you can’t walk past them from the bottom and must go up, or open, allowing you to either walk past or climb as you desire. Then there are stairwells, which are overlaid on the background walls, and they take you either up or down by one floor. To switch things up, there’s a second level type (and a separate texture swap of the first type) that puts you in an industrial setting that replaces the stairwells with Mario-style pipes. The pipes can place you much further around the levels than the stairwells and create a nice variety to the game’s mechanics.

Now, as you can imagine, there’s more to the game than just walking up and down stairs looking for carrots, and like any good video game, there’s obstacles you have to overcome. In this case, it’s the other Looney Tunes. Wile E. Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, and Sylvester the Cat all show up for this one to try to hinder your progress. The first three only show up now and then, and for the most part, you’re left to contend with clones of Sylvester, who come in three colours. They’ll pursue you throughout each level, and one touch from any of the characters costs you a life. If you’re playing for the first time, you’ll notice within a few levels that the enemies do have some variety in how they pursue you. For example, Wile E, Sam, and Daffy all avoid the stairwells and the only time they ever go up a level is if the staircase can’t be bypassed. The rest of their movements will only lead them downward where stairs are concerned. Daffy and Wile E can stop in their tracks and turn around to pursue you, which is more than what Sam can do. Even the three Sylvester clones don’t act the same. They come in grey, orange, and green, and you’ll come to treat each one differently. The first two will pursue you by following you up, but never down, unless they can walk off a ledge to do so. They do have one difference, though: grey is continuously walking while orange can stop and turn on a dime in his pursuit, like the other characters. The green one is by far the most tenacious, and he’s the only enemy in the game that can go up and down the stairwells or pipes as he sees fit.

Sam Cat, who I always chose to believe is the orange Sylvester. I have no working theory on the green Sylvester, though.

But worry not, for you have items at your disposal to deal with the pursuers. Scattered throughout each level are cartoon slapstick staples like an oversized boxing glove, a safe, a bucket, a crate, and a ten-ton weight. You can pick up the boxing glove (or gloves, plural, in some levels) to launch across the screen at enemies or you can shove the other items in their general direction to either crash into the enemy, or fall onto their head, just like you remember from the cartoons.

Once you get those mechanics down, the game keeps presenting new level layouts with a slight difficulty curve as you go, and I do mean slight. For a NES game, it’s fairly easy and makes a great starter-game for a first time NES player. The controls are simple and responsive, the graphics vibrant and distinguishable, and even the password system is a simple, streamlined four-letter code. It cuts a slower pace than most platformers do given that there’s no running and jumping. It’s not going to be constantly throwing everything it has at you, like Contra, or rushing you along with a timer or a depleting health bar, like Adventure Island, and the enemies won’t respawn if you backtrack. You even get a 1-Up for merely completing a level. It’s pretty generous, that way.

My first experience with this game was as a kid, having rented it from a local convenience store. I couldn’t have been more than eight at the time and I remember having quite a bit of fun with it. Given the notoriety of the NES difficulty levels with games, it should come as no surprise that at that age, I was mostly terrible at the vast majority of games, the Mario Bros. games notwithstanding. So it came as a fun surprise that I could get an extended play from a game without getting game over and having to restart from the beginning.

While I have numerous memories of the first and second levels of a huge swath of NES games, there are very few games that I can recall with depth. Crazy Castle was one of those exceptions, and that means something to me. It was having that memory that put it on my radar of games to keep an eye out for when shopping, and I managed to find a copy with relative ease only a few years ago. Upon replaying, the game lived up to those memories, and it’s still one I pop in the ol’ NES whenever I want a quick, breezy play for an hour or two. It gets full recommendation from me, and especially so if you’re trying to find older games for your kids that will be accessible for them without the notorious NES difficulty that often frustrates newcomers of any age.

As said before, The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle spawned a series, and you might have noticed that I said that there were Bugs Bunny games, plural, for the NES. So, you might be thinking that the second NES game featuring the iconic grey bunny was also a Crazy Castle game.

Despite the fact that Crazy Castle continued, this was the only home console game out of a series that would go on to have several sequels. The others went Game Boy exclusive, and not all of them starred Ol’ Bugs… On either side of the Pacific. In Japan, the series continued with Mickey Mouse in the starring role for the Game Boy exclusive second instalment. Mickey also took over in PAL regions (primarily European markets) for that one, leaving Bugs with just the North American version. With that said, it should be mentioned that the Bugs version of the games eventually saw release in Japan as a pair called the Bugs Bunny Collection some years later, so it’s not like they were entirely denied. Furthermore, a European children’s character named Hugo got his own version of the second game, again only in PAL regions. Still keeping up? Because it gets more convoluted.

The third game in the Crazy Castle series wasn’t even a Crazy Castle game by gameplay standards, but it still gets mention because in Japan it was called Mickey Mouse III. It came into the world as a NES game in North America, and the starring role went to a Kemco original named Kid Klown, with the full title being Kid Klown in Night Mayor World.

Kid Klown never got to the PAL regions, so European audiences might not have even heard about this game… Unless they’re collectors. That’s because nowadays, Kid Klown has become one of those games that sells for stupidly high prices. In fact, as of this writing, the cartridge alone is worth about $575 in American dollars. It’s a solid thousand bucks if you have it in complete condition (that’s with the box, manual, and other pamphlets/Styrofoam/cardboard that originally came with the game). Now, I could rant all day about ludicrous prices for certain games, and nothing stands as a better example than Kid Klown. This was a wide release, official NES game. Granted, it came out late in April of ’93, which was late in the NES’ lifespan and midway into the SNES/Genesis era, which had taken over home console video game sales almost entirely. Still, I maintain that the market has gone insane in relation to so many of the titles that sell for triple and quadruple digits.

Alleged rarity aside, try finding this game in a digital format any way you can if you haven’t played it before. Not that amazing, huh? A fairly standard if not forgettable NES platformer, right? About on par with something like Addams Family or Aero the Acrobat for the SNES? Maybe a little better than BeetleJuice or Skull & Crossbones on the NES? Something you might be inclined to drop about $10 to $30 on, but certainly not $600? Or is that just me and maybe this one thirty year old game really is worth the same as a whole PS5?

“But it’s rare, Chris!” First off, so what? It’s still a mediocre game, even if it doesn’t crop up much in selling circles. Secondly, is it really rare, though? I can’t find a single thing to indicate that it is rare in terms of what was produced and I get that sales numbers and manufacturing numbers for video game carts from pre-2000 are spotty at best. Still though, merely being a NES game made in 1993 does not mean it’s inherently valuable. How can anyone justify that a dumpster-fire of a game like Wayne’s World is worth $200? Other games from ’93, like WWF King of the Ring, Tiny Toons Adventures 2, Jurassic Park, and Star Trek: the Next Generation, all of which were released by third parties and not Nintendo themselves, go for $30 or less. Odds are there’s a similar number of carts of those games out there as there is for Kid Klown, Wayne’s World, or Cool World, and we have limited data to say otherwise.

Now I will say that not all games are made the same, and not all are worth the same. The deciding factor, in a world where quantity is a crap shoot at best, should be quality. For example, Chrono Trigger is worth more than Drakkhen, Super Mario Bros. 3 is worth more than BeetleJuice, and Super Street Fighter 2 is worth more than Pit Fighter. They’re the same genre of game, but the gaps in overall quality are apparent and obvious. What’s going on with stuff like Kid Klown being worth nearly $600 based on a vague feeling of rarity on the other hand makes the market feel like it’s in the hands of the Gnomes from South Park.

We collectively decide that a game is worth $575 based on assumed rarity and how much the next person is willing to pay for that assumed rarity. At some point though, the market has to correct on this runaway nonsense. No one should be forking out triple or quadruple digits for NES carts (looking at you, Little Samson and Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak). Would you pay $600 for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer if sellers tried pricing it that high? No, because it’s nothing-special platform game? *Gestures wildly at Kid Klown* Same deal.

Anyway, I digress, let’s resume talking Crazy Castle.

The fourth Mickey Mouse game returned to the Game Boy, finding its way to Japanese shelves six months after Mickey Mouse III. It left Japan for North America shores as… Wait for it… The Real Ghostbusters. Thought I was going to say Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 3, didn’t ya? Well, not quite. Mickey Mouse IV is a Crazy Castle game, even without Bugs. But guess what? PAL regions got an even different iteration. For them, it starred Jim Davis’ famous orange comic strip tabby-cat and was called Garfield Labyrinth. That’s right, all three regions got different starring characters, none of them were Bugs Bunny. Otherwise, the games were virtually identical.

Now we finally get back to Bugs… Almost. Next came Mickey Mouse V: Magic Wands! Which hit shelves in December of 1993 in Japan, but didn’t make it to North American and PAL shores until way later in ’98. Still follows the Crazy Castle puzzle-platformer formula, but the words Crazy Castle appear nowhere. That game would mark the end of Mickey’s run, though.

The Mouse was out, and a new star was needed to take the helm for the return of Crazy Castle in all its glory six years after the last game bearing the title and five years since Ghostbusters got a run at it. It was time for Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle 3.

Er… At least in North America, anyway. In Japan, the game was handed off to Kid Klown to lead, but ol’ Klowny wasn’t going to be enough to move games in North America, apparently. The reliable and dependable Bugs got another turn at it, for the first time on the Game Boy Colour too.

The ol’ boy did something right, because he got another shot three years later, and for once, the releases featured his name all across the board. That’s right, at long last, Bugs Bunny was the sole star of Crazy Castle 4 for the Game Boy Colour in 2000. ‘Bout time, too.

After that well-earned turn, one would think Bugs would follow the series to the Game Boy Advance. However, it was not to be. Yep, the license was no more. Kemco did indeed bring the series to the GBA, but the fifth and final Crazy Castle game would not be Bugs’, or Mickey’s or any other returning character. For the last go around, a different character, albeit another one from Mel Blanc’s voiceover credits, got the starring role: Woody Woodpecker.

Truly, the craziest part of crazy castle wasn’t the labyrinth within the game, but the craziness that is international copyright and IP licensing laws. In the span of nine games released over a span of fourteen years, Kemco managed to put eight different characters in the title role. Two rabbits, a mouse, a clown, a cat, a ghost hunter, a woodpecker, and a… Well, I’m not really sure what Hugo is… His Wiki article says troll, so let’s go with that. But yeah, eight wildly different characters, born from a variety of creative minds and held (at least at the time) by unique corporate entities, and Kemco managed to put them all in the starring role of their game series at one point or another. That’s kinda… Crazy when you think about it. For whatever you think of Kemco compared to their contemporaries in the video game publishing/development world in the 80’s and 90’s, you gotta hand it to ‘em for pulling all that off.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to review all those crazy castle games, because I neither own nor have played any of them beyond the first ones on the NES and Game Boy. I’d like to, because I really enjoyed the first one, so who knows, maybe there will be a sequel to this post in the future with all the Game Boy carts. Now, you might be thinking that I promised to talk about two NES Bugs Bunny games and thus far, I’ve only managed to review one. “So, what about the second one, Chris?”

Let’s go back to 1990 again, to a point where the first Crazy Castle games were on shelves. Kemco decided that they wanted Crazy Castle to continue on the Game Boy, but, and I can’t find a definitive answer to this, they were either contractually obligated to make a second Bugs Bunny NES game, or just wanted to get the most out of the license while they had it, or maybe there’s a third reason. No matter the ‘why’, the result was:

That there is Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout, an original game from Kemco that they released in September of 1990, a full year and a month after the first Crazy Castle, and other than the Looney Tunes’ presence, it has absolutely nothing in common with the Crazy Castle series.

So what is it? It’s a platformer, and not a puzzler, like Crazy Castle, but an action platformer, like Super Mario Bros. In fact, I’d say it has more in common with Super Mario Bros. 2 specifically than it does Crazy Castle.

Birthday Blowout starts with a story about Bugs being invited to a special, fiftieth birthday party being thrown in his honour. The other Tunes are pissed that no one celebrates them the same way they do Bugs, so they set out to ruin his day on his way to his party. Think what you want of that plot, but ya gotta give it points for being different, if nothing else. In an era where seemingly every game had you rescuing a damsel or a princess or the like, Kemco thought outside the box.

After the surprisingly detailed story-book style intro, the game gets going. The first thing you notice is that unlike Crazy Castle, Bugs can jump! Second thing, is that he has the cartoon-staple weapon known as the oversized mallet. Nothing brings out conical lumps and spinning star rings on a cartoon character like a giant mallet to the head, after all.

Take the hint and leave her alone, Skunk.

There’s no run function to make bugs move quicker, like Mario and Sonic are known to do, but he cuts a quick enough pace that I never felt he needed it, anyway. The jumping mechanic works nicely, the physics are good and the jump height is about normal for a platformer. He isn’t scarcely leaving the ground like Mario in the Donkey Kong games or flying like a superball like Mighty Max on the SNES. It’s that nice spot in between. Unlike nearly every platformer since Super Mario Bros. you don’t use that jump to bop enemies on the head. Rather, for most typical enemies, you can land on them like Super Mario Bros. 2 or pass through them and take a little damage.

Swinging that hammer takes out most enemies in one hit, and many of the rock-textured blocks can be destroyed by smashing them up good, too. That mechanic of landing on enemies? Using your hammer from that position can even yield different results. You can send your enemy flying horizontally across the screen to bounce into other enemies, or certain ones turn into rising bubbles that you can ride upward. If it’s enemies hitting you, well, you’ve got some endurance there. Your health meter is represented by three hearts on the screen, and it takes three hits to fully take away a heart, giving you nine health points in levels where it’s not usually too hard to find replacement hearts.

If you don’t want to bop your enemies with the hammer, you can still ride around atop them and use them to reach higher platforms. It’s quite the neat little setup and offers a unique feature in the game. There’s even see-saws that you can hit with the hammer to send you skyward at about the rate of a double jump.

You see those carrots? Yeah, that’s the game’s currency. Grabbing one of them further turns the square space into a Warner Bros. symbol, which in itself is a platform, and you’d best believe they used that mechanic for the platforming layout in levels. The carrots themselves are collected so that they can be spent in a bingo game at the end of each level, where straight lines of three, four, or five will yield one, five, or fifty lives. At the end of whole worlds, that game becomes whack-a-mole, or more specifically, whack Willy the Weasel, whom you might know primarily from the Foghorn Leghorn shorts as the starving little critter that Foghorn uses to torment the farm’s protector dog. There’s more to be gained from the bingo games, but you have more control over your fate in whack-a-weasel. Suffice it to say, between both mini-games, there’s potential to rack up the extra lives.

The game has six worlds at four levels apiece for 24 levels of fun, and the relative ease and brisk pace of the game makes it a quick playthrough, clocking in at about two or so hours. There’s enough variety in levels and bosses to keep it interesting and even the music is above average by NES standards. The only drawback is that there’s a tiny amount of NES flicker, but usually only when there’s a lot of enemies or other moving objects on the screen at once. The only other tiny nitpick is that bosses that you have to battle don’t react fluidly to being hit, and just sort of drift back a space, so it’s not always clear if you hit them or merely bumped into them.

Overall, I recommend it almost as much as Crazy Castle. I like that one a little more, and not just for nostalgic reasons as I played both of these games as a kid. I dunno, I think Crazy Castle is just a touch better, but I suppose that depends on if you prefer your platformers to be more straightforward and action oriented or more puzzle oriented. If it’s the former, then Birthday Blowout will be more your jam, if the latter, then go for Crazy Castle. Either way, you can’t go wrong, especially, as I said before, if you’re looking for a good game for a little one interested in NES games. The other nice thing about these games? They’re usually pretty cheap, coming in at between $10 and $15 in used game markets. What’s not to like?

After the NES, and besides the Crazy Castle Game Boy games, Bugs and the Looney Tunes in general jumped to the SNES and Game Boy through a different publisher/developer: SunSoft. It seems like every main Looney Tune got their own game through SunSoft as either the publisher or developer on the SNES, too. Bugs, Road Runner, Speedy Gonzales, Taz, Daffy, and Porky Pig each had their own and there’s an NBA-Jam-style basketball game and a Mario-Paint-style game too. I have played most of the SNES Looney Tune games, and even own Bugs and Taz’s games. However, until I get physical copies of the others I’ll hold off on a review of them, as I’d like to do that as a complete entry. Going back in the time machine a little, publisher Tengen had a Road Runner game on the NES, but not having that one or even having played it, I left it out of the review. In the years after, subsequent generations of home and portable consoles would get more Looney Tunes games here and there, right up to as recently as 2021. Much like a certain pink rabbit, Bugs just keeps going and going.

Now we’ve come to the end of yet another review. As always, I’d like to thank you for reading, and if you like it, didn’t like it, or want to share your own experience with the games, feel free to comment wherever you see this post shared on the various socials. If you have suggestions for games or other media you’d like to see reviewed here, let us know in the comments, or email us at thegoldandsteelsaga”@”gmail.com (Remove the quotation marks, they’re there to counter email bots).

Oh, and before you go, we now have a new way for you to support the page. Of course, the best way to support Gold & Steel is by buying the books in that series on my Amazon profile page, but if you want another way to help us pay the bills on the website and ensure that you keep getting this content, you can Buy Me a Coffee.

And with that, That’s All Folks!

*Some pictures were sourced for this piece from Moby Games, Price Charting, and the Looney Tunes Fandom Page

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