In 1955, Warner Brothers followed up the wild and wildly successful 1953 Daffy Duck cartoon, "Duck Amuck," by putting Bugs Bunny through his paces in "Rabbit Rampage." As in the earlier cartoon, Chuck Jones directs.

The cartoon begins with a shot of a conventional Bugs Bunny cartoon; almost immediately after cutting to the establishing shot, the animator interferes. Cartoon conventions turn on their heads, Bugs violates the fourth wall (always tenuous in Warner Brothers cartoons), and the wabbit himself undergoes ridiculous transformations. Twice, he invokes his contract and threats of reprisals from the studio if the animator continues to violate the requirements of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Coming after "Duck Amuck," it lacks the originality of it predecessor, and Daffy's ego and temper better suit him for this treatment. "Rabbit Rampage" nevertheless remains quite funny and features a better twist ending. Daffy remains unaware of the animator's identity, and the final revelation is probably the most conventional aspect of that extraordinary cartoon. Bugs, on the other hand, knows from the outset who is supposedly drawing the cartoon, though he does not name his tormentor for the audience. The final revelation, for those familiar with the Looney Tunes, proves both amusing and strangely satisfying.

In 1993, the cartoon gave its name to a Looney Tune-inspired Nintendo videogame, in which Bugs Bunny must escape the torments of a crazed animator who puts him in various difficult situations.

When video game developer Sunsoft acquired the license to create Super NES games featuring the popular Looney Toons characters in 1992, they chose to base the Bugs Bunny game on the classic cartoon Rabbit Rampage in which Bugs faces off against the evil animator who, from behind the scenes, creates wave after wave of enemies to chase after our favorite rabbit. This game, the second (and most polished) in a series of four Looney Toons games from Sunsoft, casts the player as Bugs Bunny as he travels through a series of side-scrolling platformer levels in which he faces off against classic foes such as Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, and Daffy Duck himself as the jealous animator. While the graphics are fluid and the scenarios come straight from classic Bugs Bunny cartoons, the high difficulty level and unforgiving collision detection will most likely turn the bravest hare into a dumb bunny.

Bugs's basic attacks are all physical attacks: kicks, stomps, punches, and short-range pies-in-the-face. Luckily there are a number of level-specific items scattered around to collect, such as bombs, targets for a safe to drop on, dynamite, tomatoes, long-range pies, exploding tanks, and jars of jam that are be thrown or planted at enemies. Bugs's item bank empties at the end of each level, preventing him from amassing a large weapon inventory. Enemies themselves are also level-specific; you'll find Elmer Fudd flanked by his hunting dogs, Wile E. Coyote protected by electric robots, and so on. The baddies are mainly just an annoyance though, as the goal in each level is to find the boss and smack him around enough until the level ends. Yes, bosses do not actually die, but are instead given cartoon-style deaths in which they are merely defeated and not destroyed.

Let's have a look at the levels, shall we?

  • Level 1.1: a winter forest guarded by dogs on the prowl for some rabbit meat. Elmer Fudd is also lurking around.
  • Level 2.1: a wild west saloon. Cowboys and bartenders shoot at Bugs, plus holes in the floor are also an issue. The giant cowboy waits at the end.
  • Level 400: based on the classic Bully For Bugs cartoon, our hero takes on the angry bull.
  • Level 1.3: fairy tales do come true, but the three little pigs and the big bad wolf don't like rabbits on their property. Yosemite Sam and his dragon await.
  • Level 2001: somewhere at the edge of space Marvin the Martian tosses bombs into a space traffic jam.
  • Level 9.1: based on 1957's Bedevilled Rabbit cartoon, our hero takes on the Tazmanian Devil with exploding dynamite turkeys and petrified trees.
  • Level (cube-root math equation): in the robot factory Bugs seeks out Wile E. Coyote and his band of robots and dishes out the pain.
  • Level 42.759 3/8: Bugs takes on Crusher in an all-star wrestling match from which the only way out is down.
  • Level 13: taking a page from the then-upcoming game Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday, our hero journeys through a haunted house where junk falls from above and cats roam free. Watch for a cameo from Sylvester.
  • Final Boss: the animator, Daffy Duck himself, appears in several incarnations including his Duck Dodgers, Robin Hoodwinked, and Sherriff Daffy personas.
While Rabbit Rampage is full of moments and scenarios from past Looney Toons segments, the game quickly becomes repetitive after the first few levels. Enemy placement increases as the game goes on, and by the time Level 13 rolls around it's impossible to move without being smacked by a brick, safe, or horse. Bugs has a carrot for a life meter, and with each hit a bite is taken off the carrot. The problem is that hits can quickly chain together, swiping chunks off the carrot in mere seconds. With no passwords, continues, or save states, this is a game for the patient pro. Once Sunsoft lost the Looney Toons license in 1994 production of the game ceased, but there are still a fair number of game paks in circulation if you search the used game shops long enough. Despite it's flaws it's still enjoyable for the first few levels, but you'll find the game even more enjoyable if you use cheat codes.


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