On The Level Games, the Houston-based software developers behind the golf/hack-and-slash game Curse of Nordic Cove have a brand-new game out on Steam called Boo Bunny Plague. It's the timeless tale of a robotic bunny rabbit searching for Thor while singing songs and beating things to death with a guitar. You know, a story we've all heard before.
I haven't had a chance to dig into Boo Bunny Plague yet, but On the Level did send along the soundtrack to the game, and it's a winner all on its own. Not since the cast recording of Bat Boy: the Musical has a collection of narrative tunes been so wrong and oh so right at the same time.
Bunny Dast of Skeleton Dick is the music-maker at On the Level, and while many of the Boo Bunny songs do perfectly mimic the band's peculiar brand of punk rock, here he makes is a real effort to expand and explore the musical landscape. The first boss battle is narrated by an old SD tune, "Robot vs. Dinosaur," because it's, well, that. Pulling no punches, it brings the hero's journey to life immediately.
For me, though, the less rocking parts are what show off Dast's true skills. Consider "End an Artificial Life," a rap battle between Bunny and Hel. As Dast says in the liner notes, Hel is really into hip-hop. Jessi Starnes-Knight (Miss Stitches) absolutely kills on the mike; if her rhymes are a little paint-by-numbers, she at least delivers them with a definite demonic throatiness that gives them oomph.
As the game progresses, the music begins to attune to the Norse mythological setting, putting aside much of the guitar-rage for numbers like "Heimdal's Opera" and "A Mother's Love" that call Wagner to mind more than punk. There's not enough opera in video games, in my opinion; makes me wonder what Dast would do with a bloody scatological version of Final Fantasy VI.
Somewhat on the downside are the pastiches. "War's on You," for instance, is supposed to be an AC/DC song, and for all intents and purposes that's exactly what it is. I'm not sure if just doing the exact same thing as the source, no matter how well you are doing it, makes a mockery or an homage. On the other hand, I've pretty much just described AC/DC's entire career, so maybe Dast knows something I don't.
"Space Bunny" is another one of these, trading AC/DC for Bob Dylan. Here we're in more obvious parody territory, but you're going to see the end coming from a mile away. Not that it doesn't make it any more satisfying; Bob got real insufferable sometimes.
Overall, Boo Bunny Plague the Soundtrackening (the offical title) is an interesting exercise. There are precious few musical games in the world, and even great soundtracks rarely stand on their own as albums outside of the play experience. I can honestly say that this is the only time I've ever heard music from a game and decided I needed to play it. That makes it pretty damned unique.
Boo Bunny Plague is out on Steam.
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