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#147 – The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$!

You eeeediot!

Not quite the full title.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 1/31/20 – 2/3/20
Difficulty: 6/10
My Difficulty: 5/10
My Video: The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$! Longplay

More cartoon NES games!  I’ve mentioned before that we had cable TV growing up and that I ended up a Nickelodeon kid.  The first wave of Nicktoons, i.e. Doug, Rugrats, and Ren & Stimpy, got a lot of play in my house in those days.  I tended to glom on more to Doug and Rugrats, and I didn’t find Ren and Stimpy nearly as appealing to me.  But that didn’t mean I didn’t watch the show.  I think this game did a pretty decent job at capturing the look and feel of the show, and it brought back a lot of memories and references I didn’t know I still carried.  Let’s take a look at the game.

The Ren & Stimpy Show was created for Nickelodeon by John Kricfalusi, debuting in August of 1991.  It stars Ren the chihuahua and Stimpy the cat, following their random adventures.  Kricfalusi voiced Ren while Stimpy’s voice actor was Billy West.  Kricfalusi left the show in 1992 due to contentions with Nickelodeon, and Billy West became the voice for both characters after that.  The show ran from 1991 to 1996, spanning 5 seasons and 52 episodes.  This show was very controversial at the time with its gross humor, use of violence, and adult themes.  In spite of the controversies, Ren & Stimpy translated into high ratings for Nickelodeon as well as critical acclaim, and it had lasting influence in animation for years to come.

The Ren & Stimpy Show garnered several video games bearing its name between 1992 and 1994.  There were two games on Game Boy: Space Cadet Adventures and Veediots!  Two more Sega Genesis titles were Stimpy’s Invention and Quest for the Shaven Yak Starring Ren Hoek & Stimpy, the latter also appearing on Game Gear.  The SNES had four Ren & Stimpy games: Veediots!, Buckeroo$!, Fire Dogs, and Time Warp.  There was just one Ren & Stimpy title on the NES.  The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$! released on the NES in November 1993.  The game was developed by Imagineering and published by THQ.  It was not released on NES in other territories.

A machine that prints money, that’s genius!

The story for Buckaroo$! begins with Stimpy’s new invention, the Gametron 5000 Moneymaker.  Long before livestreaming was ever conceived, this new machine pays out money the more you play video games.  It comes with three different games: Space Madness, Out West, and Robin Hoek of Logwood Forest.  Of course, Ren is all about this so that he can make as much money as possible, so he and Stimpy play out these three different games.  These subgames are merely level themes in the actual game as you will transition to a different one from level to level.  There are about sixteen areas in the game of varying theme and length, and you beat the game after clearing them all.

Buckaroo$! is an action platformer game.  You use the D-pad to walk around, as usual.  In some cases, you’ll use Up and Down to climb on poles and such.  You can also use Up and Down to scroll the screen a little bit when it’s needed.  After the title screen, you can pick from one of four button layouts for your main actions.  The actions are jump, use a weapon, or run.  Jump and Weapon are always on separate buttons, but otherwise you can map whatever you want to either A or B with the options.  You can aim your weapons upward by holding Up with the weapon button.  The Select button is used for changing your weapons.  Finally, press Start to pause.

The limited heads-up display is shown in the upper left corner of the screen.  A pink thermometer displays the amount of health you have.  Below that is the weapon selected and its corresponding ammo.  You have a default weapon that doesn’t use any ammo so that won’t show up if selected.  There is different info displayed if you pause your game.  You can see your score, number of lives, and number of money bags collected.  For every 30 money bags you snag, you get an extra life.

Use tools to escort Ren to the exit door.

The first and most prevalent of the three game modes is Space Madness.  In this mode, you control Stimpy guiding Ren on an escort mission to the exit door in the level.  Yep, an escort mission.  Ren walks back and forth like a lemming, occasionally getting into trouble by creating new enemies or not going where you want him to go.  Stimpy’s default attack is a hairball projectile that travels in a small arc.  You can use this to beat up enemies or hit Ren with it to push him around.  You can change his direction by hitting him in the front or you can make him go faster by hitting him from behind.  The special weapons are used to manipulate Ren.  Dirty socks stop Ren from moving, litter boxes turn him around when touched, and springs make Ren do a huge jump forward.

In the first stage, those items are all you need to clear it.  There is a giant teleporter in the middle of the room that blocks Ren’s path.  You need to guide Ren toward a spring you put in front of it so that he’ll jump over it to the other side.  Stimpy, however, when he approaches the teleporter, gets sent off to a space shooting mini-game.  You take control of a very large ship and you have to blast all of the enemies in your path to get through.  Press the weapon button to fire straight fireballs, just about as many as you want.  The enemies will loop around the screen until you beat them all to reveal the next wave.  You can also pick up bags of kitty litter to increase your health, as well as money bags, but you can shoot and destroy them as well.  Once the shooting segment is over, now you can pass across the teleporter and Ren will still be over there.  Use the items to guide him all the way to the door.  There will be more space shooting in the other levels, don’t worry.

Later Space Madness levels have some additional items and elements to them.  Some of the escort levels are in pretty large rooms where you can easily lose track of Ren.  The decoder ring item will slide the camera over to Ren so you can see where he is.  The beaver is a very useful item that chews a hole in the floor that Stimpy and Ren can fall through.  This is an essential item for reaching certain exit doors.  Many Space Madness levels feature these vertical pipes that suck you up or down to different floors within the stage.  A few levels also have these buttons that affect the entire room.  Ren always pushes these on contact but Stimpy can engage them as well.  One button reverses your directional controls, another doubles movement speed, another turns the color off leaving the game in grayscale, stuff like that.  It can get out of hand quickly if Ren is left to his own devices.  Good luck with these levels.

This is definitely fitting of the old west.

The next game mode is Out West.  This is a straightforward type of level where all you need to do is go from left to right.  In this mode you start off as Ren, who only wields a short-range slap attack.  Collect a wanted poster and you can switch characters to Stimpy, who has his normal spitball attack.  You can collect more posters to swap back and forth between characters.  Each character has his own set of items that often mirror each other in effect.  For instance, Ren collects ham to increase his health while Stimpy gets bags of cat treats.  Stimpy gets smelly socks again as a special weapon in these stages, while Ren collects apples.  Many of these stages end with a final enemy encounter, and when you beat them, money bags rain down from the sky for awhile.

The third game mode is Robin Hoek.  Here you play only as Ren.  These are also straightforward stages only you don’t switch characters.  There are a few elements you’ll have to contend with here that are different from the Out West stages.  There’s a large section where you have to climb up a set of buildings by jumping up awnings and landing on window ledges.  You will need to switch buildings to find an awning to bounce you high enough, and it is tough to jump across and land on the tiny ledges.  There are also clotheslines that you have to tightrope-walk on, sort of.  You will fall through if you aren’t moving, otherwise it is treated as a normal ledge.

You begin the game with three lives in reserve.  You can collect more lives by collecting enough money bags.  The Out West and Robin Hoek levels have random checkpoints scattered throughout and you will respawn there upon losing a life.  If you run out of lives altogether, you can continue from the start of the current stage.  You can continue three times before you’ll have to start over from the beginning.

This is the first time I’ve played Buckaroo$!.  The only Ren & Stimpy game I ever remember playing before this was Space Cadet Adventures on Game Boy, and that one I don’t remember all that fondly.  Buckaroo$! is an uncommon NES game but isn’t terribly expensive at around $12-$15.  My first copy had some label issues and eventually I picked up a nicer copy.  I remember having a little bit of a time tracking this game down.  Even though it is moderately priced and readily available, I am always looking out for a deal, and that didn’t come for quite some time.  My first copy came in a lot purchase and I am less concerned about condition when buying in bulk.  Later I caught the game solo for a lower-end price on eBay.

I’m not sure if Robin Hood would have put up with all this.

I can see where this game would give someone a lot of trouble trying to beat it.  The first stage alone is quite unclear on what you need to do.  Without the manual I would have played the space shooting over and over until I realized you need to launch Ren past it so that you can exit the level.  Really all the Space Madness levels can get out of hand if you don’t have a clear plan on what to do and where to go.  The other game modes suffer majorly from not having clear rules on what you can stand on and what you can’t.  A lot of incidental graphics are actually ledges, while such things like doors really stand out but then they aren’t solid at all.  On top of that, many ledges are tiny to land on and the jumping in this game is not exactly precise.  Vertical sections can be tricky.  There is also fall damage done in a sort of unpolished way.  When falling from a tall height, the speed the character falls is faster than the scrolling speed.  If you fall from too high, you go below the bottom of the screen and the game interprets that the same as you falling into a pit.  Anyway, missing jumps is bad.

In spite of all the challenges, I got through this game pretty easily.  On my second day of playing, I cleared the game, and then the next time I recorded a full longplay without using a continue.  I had a few deaths and some backtracking in the larger Space Madness stages, but those were the only blemishes on the run that I remembered.  I beat the game in a little over 40 minutes with only a couple of hours of game time building up to that.  A 6/10 difficulty rating seems right for this game.  That slots in between Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants, two other platformers by the same developer.

The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$! is a platformer out of the vein of other mascot platformers of the early to mid-‘90s.  It features stylized graphics modeling the characters from the show, and I think it looks pretty good on the NES hardware.  The music is pretty decent and blends in well with the gameplay.  The controls have the same feel as the aforementioned Bart vs. the Space Mutants.  That is not a note of praise by any stretch, but it does feel a little bit better than Bart.  Gameplay in this one is varied with the escort sections, the space shooter sections, and the expansive, pure platforming stages, with a few one-offs in between.  Thankfully the stages aren’t gigantic, sprawling mazes that have frustrated me in similar platformers of the past, though the windy Space Madness stages touch on that pattern a little bit.  The unclear ledges, big jumps to tiny ledges, and escort missions degrade this game in my eyes.  This isn’t a great game, but it ended up better than I anticipated.

#147 – The Ren & Stimpy Show: Buckaroo$!

Posted In: Finished

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