Monday, December 16, 2013

LPGA Plays Bucky O'Hare (for arcades), Part 1

at 6:18 PM
Many know the famous finned face of Buckland O'Reilly Rabbit, even if they don't immediately recognize it by that name. 

It was under the stage name "Bucky O'Hare" that Buckland made his short-lived mark on the pop-culture consciousness of 20th century America.. This portmanteau of "Bucky Barnes" (Captain America's sidekick), "Scarlett O'Hara" (the protagonist of Gone with the Wind), and "hare" (a relative of rabbits) encapsulates the pure essence of Buckland's stage character, the space ranger O'Hare: he's loyal to a fault, clever and willful, always getting his way in the end, and generally reminiscent of a rabbit. 

Yes, despite his inexplicably fish-like appearance, O'Hare really hit it off with kids during the anthropomorphic animal craze of the late '80s and early '90s, so much so that Konami snatched up the video game rights alongside Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and The Simpsons. The NES got a scrolling shooter/platformer in the vein of Mega Man, often classified as a "proto-Treasure" game (not one I've gotten around to playing, and I take the "proto-Treasure" label very lightly - it's liberally (and incorrectly) applied to every single Konami game released before 1993, from Contra III to Rocket Knight Adventures to Super Castlevania IV). While that's the game that's typically remembered (by people who chronicle these kind of things), the arcade Bucky O'Hare is a different beast altogether.

While at first glance the arcade adaptation of Bucky appears to be in lockstep with Konami's other tie-in coin-op brawlers like The Simpsons, it actually attempts to be something of a shoot-'em-up meets beat-'em-up. A generalized-'em-up, if you will. The structure and engine of the game are clearly borrowed directly from Konami's other brawlers, but the player characters use lazer-guns instead of fisticuffs, creating some semblance of ranged combat. I'm not even sure whether to call the game a brawler or a shmup - technically I want to say it's a shmup, and for the most part the boss battles support that conclusion. On the other hand, both X-Men and TMNTIV introduced a lot of ranged enemies, group conflicts, crowd control, patterned attacks, traps, and dodging, and I would be remiss not to point out that they share almost all of the same "original" developments of Bucky but for the player ranged attack. Then again, I always considered TMNTIV and X-Men to be pretty far from the fighting-game-derived brawler paradigm of one-on-one combat established by Streets of Rage and Double Dragon, moving more in their own direction of balanced melee combat action. So perhaps it's not unusual that throwing a gun into the mix doesn't make things any less brawlery - those games weren't very brawlery to start with.

That probably stands to be fleshed out a little more. Until now, enjoy the first half of some Let's Play action:

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