Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle is crazier than you think

It all started out rather simply: in 1989, Kemco released Roger Rabbit for the Famicom Disk System.

"P-p-p-p-p-p-please set side B!"

It was a fairly simplistic arcade-style platformer in which Roger ran around the screen collecting hearts and avoiding palette-swap weasels (who all look like Smarta**). It didn't really have much to do with the movie.

But what's this? Capcom has exclusive rights to produce Disney games on Nintendo systems in America! What's Kemco to do?

"Push Start, Doc!"

Why, license a character from another company, of course.

It's all downhill from here...

So the Game Boy version of Crazy Castle was just the GB version of Roger Rabbit, right?

Well, no actually.

While the NES and GB Crazy Castle are near-identical, in Japan they did not actually feature the same character.

The Mickey Mouse series continued, and this is where it really starts getting complicated.

The trend of switching Mickey for Bugs continued in the US, but in Europe they got... um, Hugo?

Hugo is actually the star of a Danish children's TV show, popular throughout mainland Europe. The game did well enough to gain its own sequel in Germany:

Which for some unfathomable reason was rereleased for Game Boy Color:

But back to Mickey.

Haha! You thought it was going to be on the Game Boy again, didn't you?

Kemco briefly toyed with releasing this game for the US, and a prototype of an English version was recently discovered:

But no such luck. Instead, we got... um, this thing:

I'm not entirely sure where this character comes from, but apparently he's a Kemco original, and only a year later he appeared in his own game on the Super NES (looking entirely different):

Somehow this got rereleased on the Game Boy Advance years later, but not before getting a sequel on the Playstation (Japan only):

I haven't even played that one yet.

Back to the Game Boy, Mickey was booted in favor of the Ghostbusters in the US, while Europe got Garfield. I can't imagine how this managed to happen, or why anybody thought they were good ideas. Maybe it was the only characters they could get at the time.

Amazingly, the fifth installment arrived in America almost totally intact, the only change being the addition of Super Game Boy compatibility.

After that, it seems Kemco grew tired of changing the graphics of the series just so they could be sold on both sides of the Pacific. Apparently it was decided that they would have the Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle series introduced to Japanese gamers, but first they needed to rerelease the first two games.

Bugs Bunny Collection must have sold well, because two years later both Japan and the US got Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 3:

So it must have been Bugs from the start, right?

No, actually. It's freakin' Kid Klown again!

The next two games show an unusual simplicity in their release history- both starred the same character from the beginning, in both Japan and America.

But hey, with this series' history, it's not going to be that simple, is it?

At that point, Kemco had lost its license to produce Warner Bros. games, and had to turn to the decidedly less-loved characters of Walter Lantz. The Crazy Castle games died out after that. It may have been that the formula was getting stale, but I think the real reason was that, sadly, in 2002 no kid knew who the @&?%! Woody Woodpecker was.

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