Bucky O’Hare and Gunstar Heroes – From Konami to Treasure / MY LIFE IN GAMING


In the early 1990s, a rag tag team lead by
a programmer named Masato Maegawa left Konami to create one of my favorite developers of
all time, Treasure. They burst onto the scene with Gunstar Heroes
on the Sega Genesis in ‘93, and continued to give us amazing games over the years like
Sin and Punishment and Gradius 5. In the years before, however, Maegawa was
deeply entrenched in NES and Game Boy development at Konami. After taking various roles working on titles
like Rollergames and Castlevania The Adventure, he took the lead on a killer NES game based
on a little known cartoon called Bucky O’Hare, which would end up being his final game with
Konami calling the shots. [ INTRO ] [ BUCKY O’HARE THEME ] I’ll be the first to admit that I never
watched Bucky O’Hare when it was on TV. It ran for something like 13 episodes in 1991
– so needless to say, it arrived with little fanfare and disappeared shortly after. Especially when compared to other similarly
themed TV shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which showed some serious staying
power. During this time period, Konami was on a roll,
snapping up just about any animated property they could get their hands on and making games
based on them. If you were a kid at this time, I’m sure
you were familiar with their multiplayer arcade beat em ups like The Simpsons and the previously
mentioned Ninja Turtles. Bucky O’Hare was also lumped in as part
of this group, though I never came across a cabinet in person until recently. Now when there was a huge gulf between the
power of an arcade game and the power of an 8 bit console, it wasn’t uncommon for a
game to be changed completely when ported. And thus, Bucky O’hare become a run and
gun with serious platforming, character changing and special abilities… not to mention a
unique challenge for even the best players. The game opens up with a cut scene of Bucky’s
space ship being attacked by their sworn enemy, the Toads. Four members of his crew are kidnapped and
taken to separate planets, and it’s up to Bucky to rescue them. So right off the bat, you’re faced with
a Mega Man style level select where you can choose between Green, Red, Blue and Yellow
planets. Obviously, you can probably guess what kinds
of challenges await you on these planets based on just their colors. Each of these levels has a number of acts
which present a fairly standard variety of enemies, but really, those are the least of
your concerns. You can grab power ups that will increase
your health bar, but most times that hardly matters since each level has an absolutely
massive amount of things that will kill you with one hit. Seriously, you are gonna die like crazy in
this game. Like…a comical amount of times. Thankfully they give you unlimited continues
which makes the ride a little easier and keeps you from going insane, but in my opinion this
one is right up there with the hardest of the hard on the NES. I was continually decimated before I realized
what was even happening. Of course repetition is key, but damn this
game really made me feel like I was awful at video games. [ GAME AUDIO ] Finishing each planet gives you access to
another character with their own unique weapon and special ability. LIke, Blinky can destroy ice and stone blocks,
Deadeye has a 3 way shot and can climb walls, Jenny has a weird controllable ball of electricity
and Willy has a charge shot. After I finished up those first four levels
I thought I was nearing the end. But in reality, i wasn’t even close. There’s another four levels that will make
you use everything you’ve learned, and every character in your arsenal. I was very surprised to find that this is
quite the lengthy game…thankfully it has a password feature because I can’t imagine
doing this in one sitting. Treasure are masters of innovative gameplay,
and you can definitely see the beginnings of that here. It just FEELS like a Treasure game. For instance, during the final level, the
game becomes a full on side scrolling shoot em up. Each act presents its own unique challenge. You’re certainly not going to be bored here. [ GAME AUDIO ] From their very beginnings, Treasure has excelled
at pushing the limits of the hardware their games are on and Bucky O’hare is no different
in the way it tests the limit of what the NES is capable of. There’s some nice colorful graphics and
parallax scrolling throughout. I mean, it’s not the nicest looking game to
grace the NES, but it’s gotta be up there. During the 8 bit era, if you saw a Konami
logo on a box, you had a pretty good idea that the music was gonna be fairly good. So I guess it goes without saying that the
soundtrack here is also excellent. [ GAME AUDIO ] These days, Bucky O’hare is one of the most
sought after NES games, fetching a fairly high price wherever you may stumble upon it. It’s fairly well known among the NES hardcore
and has shown up on numerous hidden gems lists. So, is it worth that price? Well, probably – it’s a cool piece of history
especially if you’re a big a fan of Treasure’s games. For me, I love what the game signifies. Whatever happened during the development of
this game must be what lead Masato Maegawa to leave Konami, bringing with him an amazing
team that would make up one of the best developers out there. Can you imagine a world without Ikaruga?

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