Until ‘Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle’ entered my life, video games were all about jumping from platform to platform, jumping on enemy heads, and shooting people in the dick (down + B = bullet + dick, it’s simple math). I never had to use any puzzle solving skills to reach the next stage, why would I? Mario never stopped for five minutes to slide blocks around in order to find new pathways to hidden rooms. That’s Toad’s job because he’s a trash baby that has to pick on someone with low self esteem (I.E. Luigi) in order to feel better about what a miserable existence he has. I’m sorry you and your people are often left in castles as messengers for wayward lunatics, or baked onto a pizza, but your insignificance does not give you the right to make fun of someone who hates his job as a low rate ghost exterminator, so cut the shit!
I was as fascinated by this game as I was enraged by it. When I first popped it in, I figured I’d play as Bugs Bunny, hopping on Daffy’s head, avoiding Elmer Fudd’s bullets, and exploding Marvin the Martian. Instead, I walked forward and died to Sylvester the cat. How did I die to this weak willed, chain smoking, racist? I couldn’t do the one instinctual thing in my 7 year old arsenal: jump.
Betrayed by the two things that defined my life up to that point, cartoons and videogames, I ripped the goddamn thing out of my NES and threw it across the room. Ten minutes later after being yelled at, it gently went into a pile where I didn’t touch it for years. Or maybe it was days. I don’t remember. Little me thought that the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was three hours even though it has a 93 minute run time. Also, putting sand in my hair was awesome. Not everything I remember is accurate or sane.
Here’s what I remember:
Eventually I ran out of games to play (read: got frustrated with everything else) and decided to play ‘Bug Bunny’s Crazy Castle’ on it’s own terms. I was hooked. I would play for hours each day, eventually memorizing it to the point where I was sleep walking through the earlier puzzles to take a shot at the later ones (as you did back then).
Each character had a set pattern and all you had to do was manipulate that pattern in order to collect the carrots. There was a set order in which I’d collect the carrots which made certain stages easier. I remember that if my timing was off, say, I didn’t catch the proper cycle or missed hitting a character with one of the weights that you can kick across each level, I’d basically give up. To keep going at that point would be as futile as putting a Star Trek gag at the end of this sentence.
Besides all that, I remember that Daffy Duck was a son of a bitch and I hated him.
How does it hold up?
My first time playing this in over 20 years went like this:
9:00pm – “I remember this! The characters look much better than I remember!”
9:03pm – “Huh. I remember getting hung up on some of these stages. This is much easier than I remember.”
9:04pm – “There’s that asshole Daffy! I’d better watch out for…huh. That wasn’t that big of a deal.”
9:10pm – “These backgrounds are repeating a lot. It’s not very interesting to look at.
9:25pm – “Alright, I’m getting bored now. I’ve ran through 20 levels and it’s getting a little tedious. How many levels are in this game?”
9:26pm – “60?!? Fuck that! I’m gonna play Batman (Arkham Knight)!”
To be fair, I did get back to the game; everything deserves a second chance (except ‘Pootie Tang’. Fuck ‘pootie Tang’). I had a little extra time before seeing ‘Deadpool’ for the 2nd time, so I thought, “what could I do that wouldn’t anger me for the next hour and a half?” Then I promptly ignored my first thought and played ‘Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle’ again.
What got to me was a series of pet peeves. Firstly, I don’t like getting bored playing video games. Maybe I’m the crazy one, but looking at the same 3 backgrounds and 4 pallet swapped characters won’t keep my interest for 60 stages. As I progress through each bland stage, the enemy AI was…what’s the word we’re supposed to use? I can’t use the “R” word anymore since I don’t want to be yelled at by my brother. He gets testy when I use uncouth words that have less offensive alternatives. He can be such an ass sometimes.
Anyway, the AI is dumb. I could bypass any enemy by following them on the ledge above and manipulating their patterns which are generally based on player location and movement.
In an attempt to make things a bit more difficult, enemies may be placed in areas just off screen along with one of the carrots you need to collect. Since the screen won’t scroll to show you the enemy path, and all routes lead into said path, trying to get that carrot is all about chance rather than skill. Isn’t that fun? That’s what fun is, right? A bunch of bullshit?
The straw that broke the camel’s back was at level 30. There’s this little icon of a carrot with a circle and line through it near the start of the level. Now I’m not…uh…”R” word, I know what this means. We all know what this means. I get near it and try to go up a pipe instead, but the game has this little quirk about it. You see, when you let go of the D-Pad, exit a door or pipe, or land after a fall, Bugs takes one more step. Thus far it’s been kind of a pain since you can’t simply turn around after going through a door (not having the proper orientation is the #1 killer in this game), but it hasn’t been a game breaker. Due to the screen not showing key details till the last minute, that one step was all that was keeping me from touching that carrot. You die immediately and you’re taken to a “special” stage. If you beat it, you get a few 1-ups, but if you lose…
The “special” level was built around the fact that Bugs takes this extra step, meaning that it was a FEATURE built into the game. On top of this, you could seeing the enemy pathing (see complaint above), AND you couldn’t actively avoid enemies. Since this entire stage was built around complete bullshit, I failed the stage…and it brought me back 3 stages…
I was done.