Tag Archives: michael golden

Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace

bucky and the toad menaceBucky O’Hare is best known for the cartoon series Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Wars. It was a short-lived series that spanned a mere 13 episodes. It’s greatest contribution to pop culture seems to be the NES game it spawned under the same name. That show appeared in 1991 and was gone within a year. A few VHS releases followed and eventually a Region 2 DVD in the new millennium, but aside from that the series is gone. Merchandise essentially vanished once the show was cancelled. The game was well received, though I have never seen numbers on how many copies were shipped. It fetches a fairly high price in this day and age on the resale market, but nowhere near the highs of some of the truly obscure NES releases.

Basically, the only official Bucky O’Hare related anything to remain in circulation this whole time has been the graphic novel Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace. Likely an intentional play at the name of the cartoon, Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace gathers the original run of six Bucky stories and pairs them with the following two from the UK only release of comics by DC Thomson.

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Bucky debuted in the pages of Echo of Futurepast

Bucky’s original debut came in 1984 in the debut issue of Echo of Futurepast, a prestige independent comic by Neal Adams’ Continuity Comics. It was an expensive book due to the use of high-quality glossy paper. It was also an independent release and part of the creator boom in the 1980s in which many artists and writers fled from the big publishers for the independents where they could retain control over their own characters and art. The original Bucky stories were written by Larry Hama and illustrated by Michael Golden. Eventually, stand-alone issues were released in 1986 as well as a trade compiling all of the stories. Likely to coincide with the television show was the next run of comics that started in 1992 in the aforementioned DC Thomson run. Those issues were created by a different team of writers and artists though they still utilized Hama’s characters that eventually debuted in the animated series like Al Negator and Bruiser.

Bucky O’Hare and The Toad Menace arrived in 2006 via Vanguard Productions. It was around this time that Neal Adams was trying to resurrect the brand and even commissioned a CG short to try and market the property for either a movie or new show. It went no where, but the trade has remained in print and is currently being sold in various places including through Boss Fight Studio, who as you are likely aware of if you’re reading this, is creating new toys based on the property. The release is a manga styled release, meaning it’s just quite small (about 7″ tall) and in black and white. In 2007, artist Michael Golden did a special release which is just the regular Vanguard release but with a new black and white dust jacket printed by IDW. It was signed by Golden and numbered and bundled with some other stuff to be sold at conventions. It’s the version I have, but in terms of content there was no difference. It’s still the Hama/Golden issues plus two UK issues created by the team of Peter Stone, Andre Coates, and Joel Adams (Neal’s son).

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Bucky’s first cover appearance.

The comic is an interesting revisit for fans of the cartoon. It starts off essentially the same; Bucky O’Hare and his crew are being pursued by the Toads and are out-gunned. The forces trailing Bucky and the crew of the Righteous Indignation do not initially know who they’re following, but once they do realize they have a real opportunity to take out their number one enemy. The story beats progress almost the same with the toads attacking and killing the chief engineer of the Righteous Indignation, Bruce, the Berserker Baboon. In the process, they damage the ship’s warp-drive which is powered by a photon accelerator. Elsewhere, on Earth a young boy named Willy DuWitt has created his own photon accelerator. He activates it at the same time Bucky’s crew activates their compromised unit causing a disruption in the space-time continuum which transports Willy to Bucky’s ship and pulls him into the story.

From there, it becomes a rescue mission as Bucky and his gunner, Dead-Eye Duck, visit Willy’s world and while there the toads board their ship and kidnap First Mate Jenny. It’s in the rescue of Jenny that the comic takes a different turn with Bucky and Android First Class Blinky encountering a strange god-like mouse. Following the conclusion of the first six issues, the next two essentially pick-up where the animated series does following the debut introductory story and ends with the introduction of Bruiser, oddly printed on the back of the reverse cover.

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Golden’s artwork is very detailed but also very busy.

As a comic story, it’s easy to see what Hama was going for with Bucky. It’s serious in tone, but also satirical. Bucky makes numerous comments about insurance and unions and he even makes Willy sit down to fill-out some forms before they can welcome him aboard as their new engineer. There are lots of jabs at ineffective bureaucracy, most highlighted by Bucky and his crew of four being the only real Toad resistance in the galaxy. The council that controls the galactic government is shown to basically be in an endless argument about how to deal with the threat and are penny-pinchers to the extreme. They also reside on the planet Genus behind an elaborate network of defense satellites so they’re clearly withdrawn and that’s part of their inaction. The Toads, meanwhile, are shown via a story projected by Blinky to Willy that brings him up to speed on what happened. They created a sophisticated A.I. known as Komplex that was given too much power. It lobotomized its creators, and then convinced the general population to follow its orders. Then the world became industrialized so much so that the surface of the planet is no longer even visible beneath layers of factories. The Toads send their massive tankers all across the galaxy to suck up magma from other worlds leaving them desolate when done.

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The first TPB from Continuity to collect the complete Bucky O’Hare works.

The story is very similar to what would follow in the cartoon, but is deployed in a more serious manner. In the cartoon, Bruce gets sucked into the photon accelerator rather than killed by the Toads. Bucky is surprisingly diplomatic in his approach, shedding no tears for their fallen crew-mate. The Toads and Dead-Eye speak freely of their desires to kill each other, and several Storm Toad Troopers do indeed meet their maker. It’s not gratuitous, but it is fun. There are obvious Star Wars influences as well with Dead-Eye even using the term lightsabre and a model Tie Fighter being shown in Willy’s bedroom.

Michael Golden’s artwork is almost hyper-detailed with a lot to process. This trade release is in black and white, and I’m not sure if it’s more cluttered as a result or less so. There’s lots of technological bits in the backgrounds and tons of line-work. It’s sometimes overwhelming, but I still find myself drawn to the actual character designs. They’re just so fun, and there isn’t a design I really don’t like. I do wish the Toad Air Marshall received more attention or some larger panels as he’s often squished into small panels. He’s a little bigger than his cartoon counterpart and wears a large coat, but he’s still covered in various medals. The artwork by Joel Adams is far simpler and there’s a lot more white on those pages. It’s not as detailed though, but still attractive and Adams does a good job of keeping the characters largely on model with Golden’s art.

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Bucky’s adventures continued in the UK in 1992 where characters like Pitstop Pete made their debut in print after first appearing in the cartoon.

The mouse character is never named with most fans just referring to him as the Omnipotent Mouse. He’s an interesting character that never made it into the show, perhaps because he was hard to relate to. He feels like a distraction, though his message is largely that of a pacifist. Perhaps that would have been an arc Hama would have pursued had the comic continued with Bucky taking on the role of a pacifist. He’s not presented as being as murderous as Dead-Eye, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have any qualms about taking the life of a toad. There’s some nice tension between Dead-Eye and the witch Jenny that’s not played up in the show, though Dead-Eye expresses some mistrust towards her in both. I also like how cozy Jenny is with Willy as she’s affectionate like a typical cat would be, but when done through a more human-like being it’s rather humorous. Willy’s parents in both media are portrayed as activist hippies more concerned with their own business than paying attention to their son. They can’t relate to his pursuit of science just as he can’t really relate with them. The first six issues end with him getting stuck in Bucky’s world, but the next issue has him back in San Francisco with the detail of how he got back left unexplained.

Since Bucky O’Hare was initially just one part of an anthology comic that contained multiple stories, this release feels a bit shorter than most 8 comic collections. It’s 193 pages, but there are some duplicate pages where a story ends and another picks up as well as character bios. There’s also one page that is just plain duplicated for no reason, a printing error that I’m curious if is still present with more recent printings. The format is not ideal, but it’s not bad either. I think I’d prefer a larger release as that might make the panels feel less busy, but I actually enjoy the black and white look. The first six issues are fairly easy to come by at an okay price-point, but the UK issues are not. Some day I would like to own the entire 20 book run, but for now I have other priorities in life.

If you have ever been curious about the origins of Bucky O’Hare, this is an easy recommend. If you purchase it from Boss Fight Studio it will only set you back 10 bucks, plus shipping. Cheaper alternatives may exist in the used market on eBay and other like websites. It’s a mostly fun, breezy, read with some satisfying parts, and some less satisfying parts. Mostly though, you’ll likely be left wanting to read the other issues that followed. It’s a shame we can’t get reprints of those, but it’s probably a licensing issue between Continuity Comics and DC Thomson. And there also isn’t a tremendous appetite for Bucky O’Hare in 2019, but maybe we can change that.

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Boss Fight Studio Dead-Eye Duck and Holiday Bucky

IMG_2231Wave 2 of Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare line is now shipping to consumers and comic shops across the US. Wave 1 was extremely well received nabbing a few Toy of the Year awards and earning the approval of yours truly right here at The Nostalgia Spot. Wave 1 was pretty hotly anticipated among Bucky O’Hare fans since it was the inaugural wave in a  new line of action figures and because it contained the long-awaited First Mate Jenny action figure – a character we were denied back in the Hasbro days. Wave 2, which consists of Stealth Bucky, Astral Projection Jenny, and Dead-Eye Duck is perhaps just as much anticipated because Dead-Eye has long been a fan-favorite. The four-armed former pirate and current gunner on the Righteous Indignation, was brought to life by Scott McNeil for the cartoon with a ton of moxie and a bad ass attitude – traits always endearing to young boys. Also shipping is the special Holiday Bucky, an Easter variant of the Wave 1 figure presented as a chocolate bunny, though not as literal chocolate.

IMG_2221Wave 2 still runs approximately $35 per figure, a steep price for a single 4″ figure, and thus why this review is only for Dead-Eye and the holiday variant. I’m not a professional reviewer and my blog is hardly large enough to attract enough attention to the point where I can receive review copies of toys, so I had to take a pass on the Wave 1 variants and just stick to Dead-Eye. When it came to the Holiday Bucky, I was just too charmed by the packaging and concept to resist. For the time being, I’ve opted to keep Easter Bucky in his packaging, even though it’s fairly easy to remove the figures and reassemble the packaging thanks to an ingenious design that just clips the blister to the card stock. As a result, I’m not going to go into much detail for him. He’s the same figure as before, just with a different paint application. I consider the Easter themed packaging to be part of the appeal and I just think he displays better in box.

With Dead-Eye though, I am taking no such precautions. Dead-Eye is a wonderfully fun design and he demands to be opened and played with. His colors are toon and comic accurate being a pale orange with red straps. The straps are a separate piece of plastic and are glued in place giving him some nice definition. He comes with four guns, though typically he would only wield two at a time in the comic/show, but four arms practically demands four guns, plus the old Hasbro toy came with four as well (sadly, my old Dead-Eye has been lost to time so no comparisons). He has a pair of additional beak attachments to change up his face, and four additional hands including one with a piece of chalk for tallying his kills from the seat of his canon. He has the same articulation as Bucky, with the joints able to pop off and on making the chances of breaking him quite limited. Of course, the additional arms technically means he has more articulation and each shoulder is connected by a ball and socket joint. His range of motion with all four arms is excellent, and his over-sized webbed feat make posing him a breeze.

Basically my only complaint with Wave 1 was how hard it was to swap Bucky’s parts, though I had no such difficulty with Jenny. Dead-Eye shares some of those traits with Bucky, and in some areas he’s better. Dead-Eye arrived with some pretty stiff joints all around. His shoulders moved fine in the socket, but the hinge piece in there and as well as in the elbow were pretty stubborn. Working him gently alleviated some of this, but I’ll probably need to hit him with a hair dryer if I really want to loosen things ups. His hands are also pretty stubborn and do not like popping out. They’re small pieces and getting a grip on them can ware out your thumbs pretty fast. Getting them in is harder than getting them out, and to get them flush you’ll probably need hot water or the aforementioned blow dryer. Thankfully, his beak attachments are a breeze, popping off and on with minimal effort, but not so minimal that you need to fear them falling off. His default expression has gritted teeth on either side and he comes with a second bill that has a wider grin on the right side and a third bill that’s completely closed. Since his whole face doesn’t come off his eye will always be in kind of a frown, but I’ve honestly never seen Dead-Eye with any other expression.

Size-wise, Dead-Eye is pretty much the same height as Bucky which is accurate to both forms of media. This means he’s a little shorter than Jenny and the trio look great posed with each other. It’s hard not to look at them and imagine what future versions of Blinky, Willy, Bruiser and so on will look like beside them. Like the other two, his packaging also is an homage to the Hasbro toy with the same artwork on the front just changed slightly. A character bio from creator Larry Hama appears on the back as well as a silhouette of the Toad Storm Trooper to follow in Wave 3, which is supposed to arrive before the end of the year. In addition to the Trooper, a stealth variant of Dead-Eye is expected as well. There’s also to be a special Corsair Canard version of Dead-Eye, which was the group of pirates he belonged to before the events of the comic/show, that is being packaged with a tin lunchbox. There also is a toon variant of Bucky, which appears to be the same as Wave 1 Bucky but with maybe a brighter red plastic, that I believe is also part of Wave 3. Boss Fight Studio is a small company, and Bucky O’Hare a niche product so forgive me if I’ve said this before, but variants are needed and will probably continue in order to make the line profitable and hopefully able to continue. Boss Fight has yet to show anything for a potential Wave 4, so your guess is as good as mine on what will be included, but hopefully it happens.

IMG_2232Dead-Eye Duck is a welcomed addition to the Bucky O’Hare line and the most appropriate choice for a third figure due to his fun design and popularity with the fanbase. He’s just as good, if not better, than the figures that preceded him. His anatomy makes his facial expressions less imaginative, but he makes up for it with easy to swap face pieces without the troubling stubbornness exhibited by the Wave 1 Bucky. And Holiday Bucky is a silly and fun variant for the line. Really, a chocolate Easter Bucky design? I would have never thought of it. Both Dead-Eye and Holiday Bucky, who is limited to 400 pieces, are available at http://www.bossfightshop.com along with the other figures from Wave 2 and the Wave 1 figures. Being a small shop, don’t expect Boss Fight to dispatch your order right away should you choose to make a purchase since they’re probably consumed with fulfilling the pre-orders right now, but they’ll come. I can’t say enough good things about this line of action figures, or about how happy it makes me to see Bucky and the gang relevant again, so if yo’ve been sitting on the sidelines maybe now is a good time to jump in!


Boss Fight Studio’s Bucky O’Hare and First Mate Jenny Action Figures

IMG_1874For the better part of three decades, Bucky O’Hare has been largely absent from the public conscious. His television show lasted a mere 13 episodes, likely green-lit thanks to the popularity of other obscure comic turned television sensation the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. His toy line consisted of one wave of 10 figures and two vehicles and no more. Why did Bucky fail? There are a few theories, but the most prevailing is that Hasbro mishandled the toy line packing too many unpopular figures into a case (specifically Toad Air Marshall) at the expense of the most popular characters like Bucky, Dead Eye, and Bruiser. And I can certainly vouch for that to a point, as I only bought a Toad Air Marshall as a kid when he was literally the only character on the pegs. And it wasn’t that the section had been picked over leaving a handful of figures, no it was dozens of Toad Air Marshall action figures. When I got my first Bucky I had to sift through a bunch of them to find him and was elated. I eventually had the whole set, plus the vehicles, though sadly they would be either sold in a yard sale or discarded entirely. I would replace my Bucky many years later as an adult collector, but never the rest of the set.

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91 Bucky with his 2017 counterpart. Finally, we’re rid of that molded oxygen mask from the original toy.

Enter Boss Fight Studio, an upstart toy developer out of Massachusetts that has mostly dabbled in mythological beings for its action figures. Bucky O’Hare is the company’s first go with a license and they’ve already done better than the last company to try. Over a decade ago, Shocker Toys acquired the Bucky O’Hare license for a line of Bucky Shockini toys, which were basically a variation of the Mini Mates line that was really popular at the time. They showed off completed prototypes for four figures:  Bucky, Jenny, Dead Eye, and a Toad Storm Trooper. They were never released and the company is gone. I don’t know why they weren’t released as I remember posting about it on their message board back then and the post was ignored, then deleted. It could have been they had a bad reception and the company backed out. Maybe they only had the license for a year and weren’t able to get the product to retail before it expired? Maybe they just plain ran out of money?  Whatever the reason, it was another obstacle for Bucky O’Hare, who had recently failed to land a new tv deal after Neal Adams attempted to sell a brief CG pilot, and it was possible the franchise would never be heard from again.

Truth be told, not much has changed since then for Bucky O’Hare. This license acquisition by Boss Fight Studio came out of no where. I’ve done my best with this little blog to keep Bucky some-what relevant. I’ve talked about his NES game, the arcade game, and the show itself before while also hyping these figures. 90’s nostalgia is pretty hot right now and lots of properties are being revived so maybe Boss Fight Studio was just looking to score a piece of that and one that probably wouldn’t cost a ton. And someone at the company must obviously remember the property and enjoy it because an obscure property like Bucky O’Hare isn’t getting a toy line without someone who loved it driving that. And I’m happy to report that these two inaugural figures have turned out about as well as they could.

IMG_1864For the debut of the line, Boss Fight Studio settled on Captain Bucky O’Hare himself and First Mate Jenny. The selections may seem obvious, after all, who is going to launch a Bucky O’Hare toy line with out Bucky O’Hare, but Boss Fight Studio deserves some recognition for pairing him with Jenny. Jenny was infamously dropped from the Hasbro line because of the concern of marketing a girl toy to boys. She was supposed to be included in the planned second series, and since she was basically prepared for the first set, completed figures made it through production and into packaging. Some of these would find their way into the hands of collectors, most did not, and Jenny remains the biggest omission from that lone set of figures. Finally, Bucky O’Hare fans have the Jenny figure they were denied back in 1991.

The figures in this line appear to be in a standard 6″ scale similar to the Marvel Legends line by Hasbro. This means Bucky is around 4″ tall, not including his ears, and Jenny about 4.5″. They’re very similar to the scale from the original toy line, though with better and more accurate proportions. Those old toys tended to have over-sized heads and squished bodies. They were fine for their era, but obviously not adequate for an adult toy line. The packaging for both is almost identical to the old Hasbro packaging, only BFS utilizes a re-sealable blister. Character bios and images of upcoming figures are on the back and really do a great job of taking advantage of the nostalgia fans likely have for the old figures.

Bucky and Jenny are both loaded with articulation. Bucky uses a lot of colored plastic which works to make his red spacesuit pop but not overwhelm. The minimal amounts of paint utilized are all nice and clean. There’s no weird fraying plastic or evidence of the molds, even on the small switchable hands. He has a rubbery cape that is removable via a peg, and the shoulder pads are a separate piece as opposed to being molded to his arms, same for his belt. Bucky has two additional face plates, one with a smiling open mouth and the other a more relaxed open mouth. He has twin pistols and the pegs on his belt still function as holsters, a call-back to the original design for Bucky (they always envisioned toys) and the Hasbro Bucky. The pistols are more in scale this time around too and look great. The negative with Bucky, and even BFS noted it on via their Facebook page, is that his removable pieces are all really tough to manipulate. I can’t get the additional face plates to seat properly on his head, and the hands won’t come off. When I try to pull them off his arm ends up popping off at the elbow. His cape also doesn’t fit all the way into the peg hole on his back so it’s prone to falling off. The cape is not that big of an issue, since he’ll be hanging on a shelf eventually, but it’s discouraging. BFS recommends using a hair dryer or hot water to warm the pieces in order to separate them, but I have yet to try because I’m a little skittish of such tactics.

IMG_1871Jenny is in some ways the more anticipated of the two because of her history. She does not disappoint. She’s nice and shiny and packed with articulation like Bucky. She’s got a huge mount of hair on her head, as she did in both comics and TV, and an abundance of curves. If this property had been more popular we’d probably be partly blaming Jenny for the rise of furries. Her arms and lower legs are really thin, but she doesn’t seem particularly fragile or anything. Her hands are easily swapped out with the extras provided by BFS, and she also has two additional face plates, one of which being a cheeky winking face. She doesn’t have a gun, despite carrying one in the animated series, but has two hands with “psychic energy” resembling Marvel’s Psylocke and two circular energy blasts she can hold. She has four sets of hands as a result, compared with Bucky’s three, and four face plates. Her default features an open mouth, but she also has a smiling one and a toothy smile in addition to the winking face mentioned before. Her hair is obviously quite heavy, but her tail makes posing her rather easy. She’s a bit limited in what she can do as a result, but still looks great. There are some slight paint imperfections on a few of her face plates as she requires finer details, but nothing major.

Overall, these figures are great and any Bucky O’Hare fan will likely be very happy with them. There is an elephant in the room though that does dampen some enthusiasm I have for the line and that’s the price. Bucky and Jenny both retail for $35 a piece. Add in tax and shipping and you’re looking at roughly $80 for a pair of 4.5″ action figures. Bucky O’Hare fans starved for merchandise will likely suck it up and buy a set, but the price point makes it very hard for Boss Fight Studio to attract casual collectors. Some-what troublesome is the amount of variants announced already. There’s a stealth Bucky and astral projection Jenny on the way which are just repaints of these two figures. Dead Eye has been announced as well along with a variant for him too. There’s even a second Bucky variant that’s all brown to resemble a chocolate bunny, he’s an Easter release. Boss Fight Studio has also shown off a Toad Storm Trooper. Coincidentally, they’re following the planned Shocker release with their first four figures. If the line is going to need to sell variants in order to survive then that’s probably not a good sign. I know I’m personally not in the market for repaints at this price point. I want to support the line because I really want to see it continue, but I can’t justify buying an Easter Bucky for $35. I will definitely be placing an order for Dead Eye and the Storm Trooper when they become available because both look amazing.

Because of the pricing structure and the fact that Bucky O’Hare has been such an unsuccessful and niche franchise, it’s hard to be optimistic for this line. I don’t want to end this on a down-note though. I think these two figures are great and they’re already among my most favorite of any line I’ve ever collected and I am totally onboard with more characters, be they taken from the comics or cartoon. Boss Fight Studio has already mentioned they’re eager to do an Al Negator, which is important to know because was a cartoon-only character so that probably opens the door for other toon-only characters like Bruiser and Mimi. If you’re a fan of Bucky, or just remember the cartoon and want to reminisce, these are great action figures to add to your collection. They’re really fun character designs with a lot of personality and Boss Fight Studio did an impeccable job in bringing them to life. Hopefully, we can keep Bucky from disappearing again.


Bucky O’Hare – The Video Game

Bucky O'Hare - Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)

Bucky O’Hare – Nintendo Entertainment System (1992)

I’ve been away for awhile, a combination of life events and vacation, but I’m back and ready to talk about some old things.  Here is one such old thing and a topic I’ve discussed before:  Bucky O’Hare.  Bucky O’Hare was a part of that glut from the late 1980s into the 1990s of anthropomorphic cartoon characters riding on the coat tails of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Very few of these properties (Street Sharks, Biker Mice From Mars, Battle Toads) had any staying power and Bucky proved to be no exception.  His show lasted one season, and it was a half season at that, before getting cancelled.  There are a number of theories why from poor marketing decisions, bad distribution of the toys, too serious, though I personally think a lot of boys just didn’t buy into the idea of a green space bunny saving the galaxy.  Despite Bucky’s outward appearance, I liked him and the show quite a bit as did a number of my friends.  Bucky probably dominated a good six months of my young life and during that time period he was even able to overtake the TMNT for a brief spell.

Even though Bucky didn’t last long as a cartoon hero (he didn’t last long as a comic book hero either), he was still around long enough to have his likeness inserted onto just about every product imaginable.  From the obvious items like toys and clothing to the less obvious such as dishes and light-switch covers.  Not surprisingly, another item that took advantage of the Bucky O’Hare license was a video game, simply titled Bucky O’Hare.   The game was developed by Konami and released in 1992 a short while after the cartoon had finished its run.  Right away, it should be noted that Bucky dodged a major bullet in that his game was developed by Konami, and not LJN, whom Konami had a tendency to hand all of its licensed products to.  LJN is known as one of the worst game developers from that era; it possessed the opposite of the Midas Touch when it came to game development.  The fact that Bucky managed to avoid such a fate is really quite surprising, in hindsight.  Even more popular properties like the X-Men were unable to avoid LJN but somehow Bucky snuck through.

DownloadedFile-33Bucky O’Hare on the NES is an action platformer starring Bucky O’Hare himself.  Players control the funky fresh rabbit and navigate him through various levels, mostly going left to right but not always, as they run, jump, and gun down the evil toads to save Bucky’s crew.  The game starts off giving the player a choice of 4 different stages, represented by different planets, that Bucky can choose from.  On each planet, one of Bucky’s crew-mates is being held captive:  Blinky is on the green planet, Jenny is on the blue planet, Dead Eye the red, and Willy DuWitt is on the yellow planet.  Bucky can choose to rescue his mates in any order, though at least one planet requires the aid of one of Bucky’s comrades, for when Bucky rescues a character that character becomes playable.  The player can switch on the fly with a press of the select button.  All characters share the same health bar but have their own power bar.

The power bar is where the characters distinguish themselves.  Each character had a unique attack and unique ability.  Attacks are simply done by pressing the B button.  Bucky can shoot horizontally and vertically and his special ability is a super jump.  By pressing and holding the B button, Bucky crouches down and charges up a jump.  The power meter determines how high he can go and it can be increased in size by collecting certain power-ups.  Blinky has a jetpack that allows him to fly for a short duration.  His attack is a canon-ball like  weapon that fires in an arc.  It can also break certain blocks found in the environment.  It’s more powerful than Bucky’s attack, but has limited range.  Jenny fires a laser that may or may not inflict more damage than Bucky’s gun, though it’s rate of fire doesn’t seem to be as good.  Her special ability is some kind of telekinetic ball that the player can control with the d-pad once it’s been fired.  It’s useful in certain spots where the player can sit out of danger and attack from cover.  Dead Eye has a scatter-shot for his main weapon.  Think the spread gun from Konami’s much more popular Contra series. His special ability lets him crawl on walls for a short duration.  Not particularly useful.  Willy has a fairly normal attack with his special being a charged shot.  Unlike, say Mega Man, Willy is stationary when charging making his special ability the least useful.

Mega Man fans, does this look familiar?

Mega Man fans, does this look familiar?

Willy’s special ability isn’t the only comparison to Mega Man one will find when playing Bucky O’Hare.  In many ways, the game is like a Mega Man clone.  The non-linear setup at the start is certainly reminiscient of the blue bomber’s games and the general run, jump, shoot mechanics seem to be clearly inspired by Mega Man as well.  There’s also some levels, or parts of levels, that are inspired by some of Mega Man’s more famous levels such as the red planet’s nod to Quick Man and the vanishing blocks from the Toad Mother Ship.  A quick google search will reveal that, in some circles, this game is known as the Konami Mega Man.  I’ve never heard anyone actually refer to the game as such, but the internet never lies.  Bucky owes a lot to Mega Man, but it’s different enough to maintain integrity and similar enough that it’s safe to say most fans of the blue bomber will enjoy the green rabbit.

Bucky O’Hare may not be among the most popular NES games, but most people who are into NES games seem to know about it and associate it with one word:  hard.  Many games from this era are hard, but Bucky O’Hare is often placed in that upper tier of really difficult games.  I’ve never heard anyone outright call it the hardest NES game ever made, but I’ve seen it included in several lists or youtube videos amongst the elite.  This is mostly a good thing, as Bucky O’Hare is able to achieve it’s difficulty without being too cheap.  There are some areas, when playing for the first time, that will piss a gamer off.  The most obvious to me occurs on the yellow planet where the player has to hop on these futuristic mine carts that zip along a track.  Jumping from one to another is not difficult, as they slow down long enough to make the timing easy, but before long a wall of spikes will pop up that result in a one-hit death if the player doesn’t react fast enough.  These one-hit deaths comprise the majority of player fatalities in Bucky O’Hare.  Very rarely can I recall actually having my life depleted slowly during a non-boss encounter.  And even the boss fights, as one might imagine, include a number of instant death attacks that can put an end to the fight rather quickly.  What keeps Bucky O’Hare from being among the hardest of the hard is its generous continue system.  Each level is broken up into several acts which, by themselves, are pretty short.  If a player loses all of his or her lives the continue screen is displayed and electing to go on will bring the player to the start of the most recently completed act with a new set of lives.  Continues are unlimited, and completing a full level gives the player a password which isn’t overly complex or long.  This means anyone of moderate skill can probably complete Bucky O’Hare so long as they’re persistent.  And given that much of the game’s difficulty comes from being surprised, practice does indeed make perfect.

Right around the time it seems like the game has thrown everything it can at you, it introduces the flying stages.  Prepare to die.

Right around the time it seems like the game has thrown everything it can at you, it introduces the flying stages. Prepare to die.

Bucky O’Hare is deceptively long and offers a good amount of gameplay.  After completing the first four stages the player is abducted by the toads and (annoyingly) must also re-rescue the trio of Jenny, Dead Eye, and Willy.  The setup, beyond the run and gun nature of the game, is pretty straight-forward but there are areas later in the game that are non-linear as Bucky explores the Toad Mother Ship.  After the conclusion of each level, a boss encounter occurs.  They’re usually fairly challenging, but there are some easy ones, and part of the challenge is knowing which character works best.  For the most part, Bucky on his own is enough to take down a boss but I did find some uses for Jenny’s special attack (namely the yellow planet boss) and Blinky has his moments too.  Only Willy comes across as feeling useless as I was able to make regular use of the other four characters.  Bucky never had another console video game release, but he did have an arcade game released after this one though it wasn’t very popular.  This game, along with the cartoon’s catchy theme song, is probably the way most remember Bucky O’Hare.  Considering most of those other shows, TMNT included, received mediocre to terrible games, I’d say Bucky came out ahead in one respect.  If you like NES games and have never played this one, I whole-heartedly recommend it.