Sunday, February 2, 2014

VGR Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time

Bugs Bunny going around through time! Sounds like a simple enough premise for a video game, right?

VGR: Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time 
From Behaviour Interactive/Infogrames
Played on PC
Also available on Playstation

Type 3D platformer
Year 1999

The end of the 1990s saw a decline in mascot-sporting videogames. While Sonic & Crash Bandicoot lived through to see a relatively fine on-going success in gaming, all the other Bubsies, Mr. Nutzes and other cartoon animals quickly disappeared, nowhere to be seen.

But what about the original toons, the Looney Tunes?

A few videogames releases continued to see the day, albeit less frequently but they were able to continue nonetheless, gathering a general decent amount of successes.

They had a few nice truly inspired original games and some... less stellar results.

Developed by Behaviour Interactive for Infogrames, Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time was an attempt to bring back the Looney Tunes with their main star, Bugs Bunny himself! (who actually didn't receive that many games)

It's a pretty simple typical 3D platformer for the late 90s. Kind of similar to the likes of Croc or Spyro to be exact.

On his way to spend some off time for the holidays, Bugs Bunny took a wrong turn at Albuquerque - because he really seems to make a habit of losing himself around there - and arrived in some kind of shed in a garden. There Bugs found some kinda machine that with what appeared to be carrot juice plugged into it.

Due to an accident, Bugs Bunny found himself out of time! Because...wibbly-wobbly... timey-wimey... stuff?

Bugs was finally able to get a hang of the time machine and arrive in... Nowhere! Home of a sorcerer named Merlin Munroe.

With his help Bugs will have to go around 5 different eras through time, for about 21 levels, find several items because the machine is powered-up by carrot juice.. for some reason. (I was expecting a time loop-kind of twist as resolution for the plot AND explaining Merlin's presence across each time period.. but it simply never came up) 

As you can see, it's a pretty random "practical" story that won't be winning any awards soon. The time travel gimmick just serves the purpose of offering this platformer a set of varied levels. And it was the best way to include several locations from different classic Looney Tunes animated shorts.

Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time is a 3D platformer that offers 5 different locations/worlds. The Stone Age, Medieval Times, the "Pirate Years", the 1930s and what I guess should be the future but actually is simply titled Dimension X.

The levels are quite big actually and open. Each featuring various smaller segments and while in those you can always go back and forth between sub-segments to collect missing items and whatnot.

Because this one of these collect-a-thon kind of platformer. A game where you must collect several type of items in order to progress through the game and open more new levels.

You don't go from stage 1 to stage 2, etc. Instead the game presents its levels in a non-linear way.

In order to progress you must find several Clocks and Golden Carrots as well. Sometimes there will be a specific set of TNT boxes to break as well which will then grant an additional final clock. A bonus Golden Carrot might be bought in the HUB worlds for a 100 regular carrots. Those last carrots are the way Bugs can get his health back.

Every few Clocks or Golden Carrot a new level will open up in one of the 5 eras. Meaning you will have to go back and forth across time and space to get more clocks/carrots to open more new stages to be finally back to bring Bugs Bunny back to the present!

Merlin can be found from time to time in a couple of stages. He will grant Bugs some magical powers to access previously unattainable areas. Which means, yes, backtracking your steps to reach new places and more items.

Each era has its mini-scenario going around.

It's not all just platforming. The game occasionally features some simple puzzles to solve.

There's also a couple of original levels including a race, chases, etc.

Several familiar Looney Tunes faces will pop up around this game, some in different new roles.

Such as a caveman Elmer Fudd guarding the Stone Age, the Witch Hazel being the main foe in the Medieval era, Yosemite Sam guarding Treasure Island in the Pirate Years, Rocky and Mugsy for the 1930s and finally Marvin the Martian for Dimension X.

They're not simply used as the traditional bosses at the end of their stages. Instead you might encounter them through some levels or face them several times. Each used around the little story featured in their respective eras.

Some other Looney Tunes will be encountered as either regular foes or similar cameos.

Daffy Duck can be found in two eras, for example as "Robin Duck" in the Medieval era. Toro the Bull is fought in a corrida in the 1930s. The Instant Martians make an appearance as the enemies in the Dimension X stages, of course. Beaky Buzzard makes a little short appearance at another point...

The voice cast features several classic Looney Tunes classic actors. Billy West voices Bugs Bunny one more, while Joe Alaskey does most of the other main characters. 

In a random but great funny way, Infogrames used archive vocal material of Mel Blanc himself for Yosemite Sam (!). I don't know why. But I actually really loved it. It worked great and didn't detract much from the experience.

It's not the best platformer I've ever played. It certainly isn't the best looking game ever.

The cartoony graphics do their job but are pretty simplistic.

It's not without its share of problems. Some platform segments could have been much better handled. Bugs' shadow is way too small and hard to spot in some tougher sequences. And the game is far from super precise.

There's a very useful auto-jump enabled to make Bugs jump whenever near the end of a platform. Really useful in some though spots. 

Bugs Bunny lost in time is a pretty random pitch. And the story either makes very little sense (what's Merlin doing around?) or seems to never attempt to make it worthwhile to the Looney Tunes franchise.

But all in all it's a pretty fun enjoyable game.

Overall, a pretty decent if straightforward platformer. 

With a very silly stupid plot.

It's an okay game with tons of collectible to clear the ending, a nice little cartoon atmosphere - a bit childish at times compared to actual Looney Tunes cartoons  

Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time makes some attempt as some gameplay variations here and there, such as some stealth segments and puzzles from time to time. But for that matter I much prefer Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf to it, released at the same time. If not for the much better gameplay and prettier graphics, for its sheer originality.

The game was well received enough to warrant a sequel, Bugs Bunny and Taz: Time Busters about a mere year later. While the plot didn't follow Lost in Time, it was its rightful follow-up featuring similar gameplay mechanics and the same time travel gimmick.
I give it:
2 / 3 Bruces!

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