Goofs and Guitars
Remember those games that released around the turn of the century that put more stock in humor and quirk than solid gameplay or mechanical substance? I do. I think we all remember Deer Avenger. Was it a good game? Absolutely not. Was it funny? Well, okay — still no. Boo Bunny Plague aims to rectify this by being exceptionally funny (and mostly succeeding) while absolutely failing on every conceivable level as a game that you interact with.
Bunny, our protagonist, is a robot. More specifically, a rabbit robot (maybe a rabbot? I tried, at least) who is implanted with a computer virus which causes him to gain sentience and sing musical interludes. No, seriously — half the game is Bunny singing (really badly) about whatever’s going on. Fighting Vikings? Here’s a Viking-killing song. You found Thor? Here’s a ditty about how Thor is probably a washed-up loser who can’t even lift his own hammer anymore.
Shortly after gaining sentience, he finds his creator, a computer technician Bunny calls “mom,” who he then proceeds to sing a musical interlude to, a song about how Bunny will never kill mom and wants to be with him forever. Bunny almost immediately kills “mom” because the guy interrupts Bunny’s song. It’s worth noting that the subtitles are a good portion of the humor — during this scene, we see such gold as “[merciless thrashing in spite of previous promises]” and “[horrendous beating continues].” It’s in this absurdity that Boo Bunny Plague really shines — it’s a coherent sort of mania, the kind that elicits both “WHAT?!” and genuine chuckles simultaneously.
Unfortunately actually playing the game is not so much an enjoyable experience as it is a vehicle to get you to the next cutscene. It’s mostly bland, milquetoast character action, with left mouse button attacking (with a guitar, though!) and right mouse button blocking. The thing that keeps it from being even serviceable is the absolutely atrocious hit detection. I never actually fought around a boss’ mechanics, I just ran up and hit it (hoping to hit it, anyway) until it died. I almost wish BBP had been a graphic novel or an animated movie, because I feel it would have been better served in an almost completely non-interactive medium.
The combat in BBP is atrocious. I mean, I understand that the game is only $5, but the entire game is “left click things until they’re dead and right click to block send damage to a separate bar.” That may sound like a simplification for other character action games, but in Boo Bunny Plague, that’s literally all there is. Even finding new guitars doesn’t change anything other than the effect when a special attack (automatically) triggers. It’s boring, it’s unimaginative, and it’s bad.
In addition to the combat being a borderline-unplayable mess, the mission design is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in an action game. The first level (well, second outside the tutorial, I guess) sees an obvious Optimus Prime parody telling you to kill twenty-five Vikings and then “Find me… somewhere else in the city. I don’t know where. Find me.” It’s boring, unimaginative garbage. In later levels, you’re forced to platform, which due to the inconceivably fucked up jumping is almost completely impossible.
Boo Bunny Plague is also disgustingly unappealing to look at. It’s built in Unity, but seems to rely on the most basic shaders and textures to get by. This would be inexcusable for a browser game or a game developed 10 years ago (the era of game Boo Bunny Plague seems dead-set on imitating) but for a game made with Unity in 2014, that seems kind of suspect.
I really wanted to like Boo Bunny Plague. It presents with an astounding amount of promise (I thought the gameplay might get better outside the tutorial once I was given more abilities or things to do) but it delivers on nothing except its humor. It’s boring, it’s bland, it looks awful, and it has some of the worst hit detection I’ve ever seen in an action game. It’s also extraordinarily short, at only 3 hours. Again, I get that it’s $5, but I almost feel that it’s not even worth that.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed), OSX; Developer: On The Level Games; Players: 1; Released: September 4, 2014; Genre: Action; MSRP: $4.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC copy of Boo Bunny Plague given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.