View Full Version : SA Special - The Epic Bunny Series

Shining Aquas
07-10-2009, 02:48 AM
Foofles is resposible for creating a series of levels known specifically as "The Epic Bunny Series". I know nothing of these levels other than they were once mentioned on the level showcase and the sheer absurdity of the title caught me off guard. "Epic Bunny series? What form of buffoonery is this?" and after that I just had to take a look at it.

The Epic Bunny Series upon closer inspection reminded me very much of the original Donkey Kong Country games in that the enemies were all essentially mutants of a specific breed of animal (just replace crocs with bunnies) and the level names were all playful puns that either had identical first letters or had rhyming words all for the purpose of being fun.

So, I guess I'll just review the levels one at a time and end with a grand overview.

Level 1 - Mecha-bunny Mayhem

Well, starting off the level I notice that the level tries to be a little classy by having a theater performance curtain in front of you that opens up at the start to give you the feeling of presentation. I nice touch certainly, but I kinda think it would be a tad better had it not been blocking the screen for as long as it did. It literally takes about 7-8 seconds for this thing to clear out of the way, and keeping most of the screen blocked for that long is a little naughty, or perhaps I should say "gnaw"ty HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....ha....haaa. Cause you know rabbits....like to well...gnaw...on things................MOVING ON!

The overall level appearance is incredibly vibrant at a first glance but later reveals itself to be abundantly childish and that word should not immediately be confused with negative criticism. True, the level looks very childishly done but its because its childishly done you can feel a certain warmth of innocence about it, playful in execution a sweet to the touch. It's not until you go through more of the level that you find that the whole thing is just a rather shoddily put together mess with robotic assassin furballs every few feet of screen. Apparently the land of bunnies in LBP is under attack by a large quantity of killer mecha bunnies that will stop at nothing to destroy everything, and it's up to you to save the land's in"rabbit"ants HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....aha.....ha.....cause it sounds like rabbits...you know.....right................I hate this job.

So, you kill tons of horrible death spewing bunnies and finish off the level by (and I kid you not here) riding a tank that has a mounted ion cannon on the front that you use to eradicate all the remaining bunnies in your way. What....the....hell. Seriously, if these bunnies had such powerful weapons of mass destruction earlier, why didn't they liberate the land for themselves? WHY? Finally, you get to the end, where one rabbit that I guess is supposed to be killing another rabbit but at the end just looks like he's humping it, and another rabbit tells you that "Your rabbit is in another castle" before you reach the end. What.......the.......hell.......again. If you are going to quote a famous platforming game, at least quote it FROM A GAME THAT YOU CARRY SOME LEVEL OF RESEMBLANCE TOWARDS. In a series of levels that were clearly inspired and play almost akin to the style of the aforementioned DKC, at least quote something from that game instead (pick a random funny line from the Grandpa if you must).

Well, regardless, the level while giving the intention of being a childish fun easy level comes out more to me as an overly simple, crudely constructed mess. There's nothing of particular worth to see here, just some bunnies beating the **** out each other and a laser death tank.

Level 1 score: 4.5 / 10
Level 2 - Hare-raising Heights

Well, for a level that is designed to be a direct continuum of the first level, I find myself trying ever so hard to find any degree of common ground between this level and the previous from the standpoint of sheer setting. One minute we are in the happy-go-lucky fields and grasslands, cheering away at the very bright colorful landscape. The next minute, we apparently find ourselves at a very dark, gritty mechanized factory of death that carries an atmosphere similar to Oddworld. Yeah, that conversion makes TOTAL sense to me too.

The level feels very different too, going from fun and earnest platforming with a slight hint of dark humor amongst the blissful facade, to now a life-or-death "gauntlet" of death bringing devices around every convenient corner. Not much about this level feels even remotely similar to the last one, and if it weren't for the fact that about 70% or more of the enemies were rehashed robo-bunnies from MBM, I could've easily confused this with some other dark gritty level.

Aside from the 180 degree flip of scenery, the level mechanics are still around the same performance level as the prior: Standard, straight out-of-the-box use of game mechanics with nothing truly bizarre or special to show for it. Essentially, it's once again just beating the living **** out of bunnies (plus the occasional "rescuing" of bunnies), only this time there's a much larger bunny at the end to beat the **** out of......or actually to simply just have it kill you in the most horribly unforgiving ways over and over again.

Yeah, the boss is a new feature to this level and it appears it was all done over an arduous period of maybe 20 minutes. Seriously, the whole boss has a grand total of 14 weak spots scattered all about a bunch of overly hard to reach places that could all be made much simpler had the creator put any form of bearings on his boss. The only moving parts of the whole thing are the two paws lined with spikes at the bottom that alternate between going down and up, creating a boss that flails itself around wildly without any restrictions or boundaries of any kind. It's like adding baking soda to vinegar and attempting to pop all the bubbles before the top fizzes over.

Overall, the stage is once again very standard, has almost no bearing to the original level, doesn't have an ending (yeah, you kill the giant mecha-rabbit and then proceed to receive nothing at all other than the exit, not even so much as a "thanks for saving us all" or anything), and was obviously put together in a way that all the construction pieces can be seen overly obviously. It's like watching a movie and actively seeing all the hidden cameras and duct tape connecting the sets.

Level 2 Score: 4.5 / 10
Level 3 - Tundra Trouble

At this point, there's probably a few of you wondering why I'm continuing to review these even though they just don't seem to be very good. My response to that is simply "I don't know either". But, not all hope is lost because after playing this level I'm happy to say that the overall quality appears to be slightly improving.

Tundra Trouble starts where we last left off, which I must have mistook for the dark gritty city/factory because now we're in the middle of the snow filled wilderness.........somehow. Maybe that previous level didn't even happen and it was all a bad dream, hard to say. Anyways, apparently your last actions have ensured the safety of the bunnies and you must now go through the snowy bear-filled lands to........okay I guess they never say why but you I guess its important. The enemies this time around are no longer simple rehashes of robo-bunnies but have been replaced with tiny bears and large polar bears. The tiny bears seem to be killed with abundant ease as they are generally too busy humping the snow to be worried about you killing them all, and the polar bears while being indestructible are also about as likely to kill you as you are to get full-on drenched with torrents of rain in the middle of a desert. Based on the appearance of scenery and the design of new enemies, I feel like the bunny series formula reverted more to the first level for this one and it's a choice that I believe was overall much healthier for this kind of series. It immediately strikes me as something that should be playful and innocent and the way the 2nd level handled that was just terrible. It felt almost like taking a charming existing franchise and subjecting it to try and be more "gun-ho". You know, kind of like this:


My point is this: Thank you for reverting back to a working formula that is overall better for the series you are trying to create.

Well, towards the end of the level, you have to fight a mini boss which consists of 2 serpents that try to kill you with torrents of gas shots. They aren't especially difficult, but they can definitely be frustrating. My advice is try and get an early lead in the battle and the rest will be muuuuuuuch easier. Once you reach the end of the stage, you notice there's an evil looking man in a UFO.....for some reason, and the bunny from the beginning of the level signals (without actually full out saying of course) that the evil you thought to have eliminated in the second level is back for more. You then find the level exit and proceed to-OH GOD IT'S A TRAP!

Fighting the surprise buttse---I mean boss is simply a matter of using the springboards available to you and jumping on top of the fast moving, gasball shooting giant. Sounds fun doesn't it? Well, if you are fortunate enough to get that one lucky jump, you can probably knock out all 5 weakpoints at once. NOW you get the exit.

Overall, it's definitely better than the last two levels, partly due to reverting back to the first level's style, but the level is still only mediocre at best. Hopefully, the last 2 levels will keep the beat going and continue to improve little by little.

Level 3 score: 5.5 / 10
Level 4 - Cosmic Conundrum

Well, now that we are out of the frozen north (or possibly south) I wonder what location we will magically teleport to this time in a way that it still carries even no resemblance to the last stage? Why its......oh my bad I think I started playing one of the Metal Gear Solid levels, let me just fix that.
......no, it clearly says Cosmic Conundrum, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference between this and an MGS stage. Everything that could've possibly come out of the MGS pack is here, EVERYTHING IS HERE. In fact, it was the lack of anything else that threw me off at the beginning. Aside from the rabbits that you save (which were all reused from earlier stages) and the rabbits that are a more "upgraded" model of the first wave of robo-bunnies, this entire level simply reeks of gunmetal gray and paint guns galore. It's like ever since the MGS pack came out, there has just been this endless wave of "base infiltration" levels that are based solely on just one set of materials, switches, and concepts. In other words, a bazillion clones of the already provided MGS level pack. This is hardly an exception, as it appears to just be that, but again with bunnies.

Ironically enough though, this level wasn't actually all that bad. Sure, it had some of the most painfully punny dialogue I've ever been forced to read, but the gameplay was fairly decent. It also reassures my theory that this series suffers from schizophrenia, alternating between cute and cuddly, and viciously rambo. I'm pretty sure this happened to another series as well....


Well, what I do know is that the overall performance of this level was fairly decent and much better than the last 3 levels. Even the final boss was mildly entertaining. Obviously, there's still much room for improvement (the stage has some very general emitter bugs), but it definitely feels like a step in the right direction.

Level 4 score: 7.0 / 10
Level 5 - Factory Frenzy!


Yep, it seems like the author finally decided to have connecting levels that actually feel like they should connect to one another. Going from secret base to secret factory is a setting change that has reasonable merit. Granted it's a tad repetitive in a different sense (isn't infiltrating a secret base kinda similar to infiltrating a secret factory?), but at least it seems logical.

At this point in the levels, the only thing that actually feels like any distinction of "Epic Bunny Series" is the very rarely appearing bunny prisoners and the occasional bunny-shaped enemies, but there doesn't really seem to be much of the original product remaining in this scene anymore. What may have started as Jak and Daxter with it's colorful landscape and cute atmosphere has degenerated into something like Jak II, grit-filled warzone with you caught in the middle of an epic frenzy, and very little of the world you came from even remains.

Really, we've been through the trip with the other "bunny" levels up until now so does this one do anything really different or notable? Not especially, just the same killing of non-bunnies over and over again. This is essentially just replaying the 4th level over again, only with the appearance of level 2 and having 4 times the amount of dirt. It's a dirty level, full of rust.

Overall, it seems a bit lacking when compared to the previous level because at least the previous level carried at least a bit of the bunny humor-esque feel to it. Again, going to a previous position:


Why can't they just find the amazing middle ground:


Level 5 score: 6.0 / 10
Final Overview

Well, it calls itself the "Epic Bunny Series", a collection of levels with tons of bunnies. It delivers just that, a collection of levels with tons of bunnies in them......and very little else on the level of substance. Each level is basically taking the bunny theme and applying it to several different backgrounds and sceneries in a non-related order: Grass > Factory/City > Tundra > Secret Base > Factory. Not to sound a little overbearing but this setup of things is entirely pointless, mostly due to the fact that there is no rhyme or reason behind any of these scene transitions. Even doing so much as putting a quote bubble at the end of each level explaining why the next level takes place where it does would make things seem much more organized.

As far as the mechanics were concerned, the levels didn't really show any truly innovative building techniques until the last two levels, and that's more or less when the paint gun got involved and it seemed like the entirety of those levels was based solely around the paint gun, as if the levels were merely an excuse to show off a brand new toy. Without it, the levels wouldn't even be worthwhile.

Overall, the whole set of levels was very lacking in a lot of areas. Lacked any real uniqueness, lacked a coherent storyline, lacked any memorable characters, lacked a lot of appeal due to the lack of anything truly planned out. It feels in many ways like all the levels were simply "Plan them as I go", with no real thought process around how the levels would be organized. Still, to its credit I suppose the levels as a whole were never entirely bad and occasionally had some fun moments, especially later on in the series, but it seems like it would need a lot of work before becoming a living legend. Since the series is still unfinished (based on what I played) I sincerely hope the future levels can hope to find a winning level formula before it is too late.

Final Score:
5.0 / 10
Fairly bland, not terribly experimental, but for some reason the masses freakin love it. It's a generically "safe" set of levels, and the refusal to take big risks prevents the levels from really standing out.

On a side note, I now challenge any reviewer to attempt to write up a review this large.

07-12-2009, 02:00 AM
On a side note, I now challenge any reviewer to attempt to write up a review this large.

Well, well, well. Look at that, the next levels in my queue are a series of Kingdom Hearts themed levels. You're on.

07-12-2009, 03:02 AM
But you gotta admit..... blasting bunnies with a cannon is one of the most satisfying moments in video game history!

That part alone kicked the first in the series up to 11 for me!

(it's not that I dislike bunnies.... but that cannon worked REALLY well!)

07-21-2009, 10:27 PM
I've had these hearted for a while now. I liked them, especially the last one (#5)...They did ramp up in wonderfulness from the first one, but man...Factory Frenzy made my jaw drop upon entering!