It’s fitting that with Easter right around the corner a game about bunnies would be released. However, these bunnies aren’t of the cute, fuzzy or even chocolate variety that you’ll find stuffing the shelves this time of year. In first-person shooter, Blast ‘Em Bunnies, these normally cuddly creatures are pure evil, throat-slitting maniacs.
Blast ‘Em Bunnies arms you with upgradeable weapons like a rifle, mortar, machine gun and laser beam for fending off an array of enemies: Walkers, Grenadiers, Burrowers, Flyers and more. With weapon in hand, you stand on a stationary platform and rotate around trying to kill the bunnies before they attack your burrow. (Yes, you’re a bunny too.) The more bunnies you kill and the more missions you complete, the more money you earn to upgrade your weapons. It’s a simple concept that is sometimes a bit too monotonous but that remains strangely addictive.
Here’s what I liked:
The stuff Donnie dreamed about — I think Donnie Darko may have been playing Blast ‘Em Bunnies before he had all those nightmares and visions of that evil-looking rabbit. OK, they’re not all that menacing looking, but there is a decent variety of bunnies available, and the character design is pretty well done. There are two special bunnies that particularly stand out, and finding and killing them is one of the highlights of each round. The first is the Golden Bunny, which looks an awful lot like Sonic the Hedgehog. This is no accident, as he races across the screen quickly during a wave. If you’re able to shoot him you will unlock a frenzy bonus, which brings on a swarm of angry bunnies but grants you invincibility, so all you have to do is keep shooting and racking up points. The other special bunny is the Throatslitter. If Donnie did dream of one of these bunnies, it was definitely this guy. This pirate-like bunny appears behind you holding a tiny baby bunny. You’ve probably guessed by the name what it will do if you don’t kill it. That’s right — it will slit that little bunny’s throat. Killing Throatslitter before he kills the baby grants you 1000 coins. If you don’t get to him in time, he could disappear or you may have to stand there and watch in horror as he murders that sweet, innocent child right in front of you. This is probably a good time to mention that I would not suggest this game for small children, despite it having a cute bunny theme and the Xbox Store having it categorized as “family.”
Bringing the heat — As mentioned earlier, there are four gun classes that can be upgraded with extra barrels, increased firing power and different types of ammo. When I first started playing Blast ‘Em Bunnies, I was honestly getting annoyed and thought the game was awful. The basic gun had no reticle, making hitting multiple bunnies at a time really hard. After playing for a bit and collecting some coins, I decided to invest in the heat-seeking turnips and later the heat-seeking chili peppers, allowing my projectiles to home in on both bunnies and coins. After this, things got incrementally better, and I was mowing bunnies down left and right.
Achievements galore — I am not the type who plays video games for the Achievements. That being said, I do still enjoy seeing that little bubble pop up telling me I have achieved something; it gives me a sense of (very minor) accomplishment. If you’re like me and love the pat on the back, or if you just want to rack up a huge Gamerscore, then this is a perfect game for you. There are 73 Achievements available; most are only five to 15 points, but they still add up to 1000 total.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
A phone game on a big screen — My biggest pet peeve with Blast ‘Em Bunnies is that it feels a lot like a phone game due to the fact that you are given a base level to work with and anything else you will have to pay for. Included in the price of the game is one theme, one level, one main song and one special event song. In order to produce an insightful review, I played it for quite some time. After hours of seeing the same scenery and hearing the same music, I almost went insane. Developer Nnooo clearly knows this will happen, because they conveniently give you the option to purchase DLC that unlocks more songs and more themes. A lot of games are headed toward microtransactions, but here I felt like Nnooo should have just released the Super Mega Bundle, which has all the DLC and costs $19.99, and not even bothered with the base $4.99 version.
Poor menu screen — There are two game modes available (Slaughter and Survival), and each both have varying difficulty levels. Rather than putting the modes are front and center like in most menus, in this game, Slaughter and Survival are stuffed up in the left-hand corner of the screen. To switch between modes you hit the Y and B buttons. Meanwhile, showcased in the middle are the armory, utilities, missions and of course the store. Why would those things be the focus of your menu screen and not the game modes and difficulties? Recalling my previous issue, this also lends Blast ‘Em Bunnies a feeling of being a phone game that’s trying to push DLC. I also had issues buying and equipping weapons, which is hopefully just a bug that Nnooo will fix later, but it was still a very frustrating experience.
Show me the money — Blast ‘Em Bunnies is a minimalist game; there are no real mechanics other than pulling the trigger. But is it too much to ask to have just a few extra things in place to make the user experience a tad bit better? As I previously mentioned, there is no reticle on the guns, which makes firing some weapons feel a lot like playing beer pong (or beirut, for you snobby types), where you have to play a few rounds to figure out the perfect arc needed to hit your target. However, I can forgive them for that, as it adds a challenge to the game that feels kind of nice. The part I cannot forgive is that you have to shoot the coins to collect them. This wouldn’t be all that frustrating, except for the fact that your gun overheats if you hold down the trigger for too long. So there you are, just having killed a ton of bad guys and wanting nothing more than to collect your precious loot, but your gun is overheated. By the time it cools down your coins will not only have disappeared, but you’ve probably also have had to watch a baby bunny get its throat slit while you watched helplessly knowing there was nothing you could do.
Excluding DLC, the base Blast ‘Em Bunnies experience is a great choice for someone looking to pass the time in between bigger games or just looking to have some quick and easy fun one night. The game doesn’t have much longevity since it lacks in real missions and ultimately becomes repetitive, but it is a game that you can immerse yourself in for a few enjoyable, bunny-blasting hours.
Score: Try It
Blast ‘Em Bunnies was published and developed by Nnooo. It releases on March 11, 2016 for $4.99. A copy was provided by Nnooo for review purposes.