If there's one thing that every well-educated fish learned in school, it was that you should always take care of your raccoons. Just think about it. Raccoons live in perfect symbiosis with fish that carry buckets on ropes and sprout trees from their backs, right? At the very least, that's the logic behind Nitrome's latest feature, The Bucket, which combines a twist of physics with a bit of avoidance action.
Using the mouse to move around, you control a fish carrying a long rope with a bucket attached to it. In each level, you must safely transport the raccoon using your basket to the opposite end of the level. However, the rope connecting your cargo to your carp can flop around and swing in the breeze, so keeping the raccoon on board quickly becomes a challenge. If the raccoon should fall out of the basket, land the basket near him so he can jump back in before he falls too far off the screen, or else it's game over.
To complicate matters further, you've also got to navigate your fish through unfriendly terrain. Waterfalls will slow down all motion, fans will blow the basket (and sometimes the raccoon) out of control, and blocks need to be pushed out of the way or slammed into to move further. Also, an unkind batch of enemies await their opportunity to attack you in different ways. While the fish and the basket can take numerous hits (although they get jarred rather easily), the raccoon can only last for three hits before the round is lost. Add to all of this the screen's tendency to automatically scroll at a rate that speeds up and slows down often when you least want it to, and you've got quite a challenge ahead of you!
Analysis: As a piece of advice and as a warning, it should be mentioned up front that this game takes a lot of patience to conquer. At first, you'll be learning what elements in the game you can interact with or move through, or how wind and water and other elements effect your movement. Once you figure that out, there's still the task of learning how to move without dumping the raccoon into a bottomless pit. Slow, careful movements are the key here, as anything wild or jerky could fling the raccoon off the screen, if it even stays in the basket that long. On the plus side, you're given the benefit of checkpoints scattered throughout longer levels, though expect to go through a good number of obstacles before you reach them.
There's another hitch that might aggravate some players; the raccoon is sometimes dumb. Yes, it's hard to control the fish and the basket sometimes, especially when the world is scrolling by so quickly, but if the basket isn't perfectly aligned with the edge of a platform, the raccoon might jump to his death. Or, the raccoon might try to jump into the basket from beneath it, which just results in it bumping its head over and over again. Or, the raccoon might walk off the edge of a cliff to get closer to the basket. If you can get the basket to rest on solid ground for long enough for the raccoon to reach it, you shouldn't have any problems, but the fast pace of the game doesn't always allow for such luxuries.
Ultimately, The Bucket is still great fun once you get the hang of the helium herring. The twenty levels provide plenty of challenges that take a bit of foresight to navigate without risking the raccoon's safety. Each successful rescue is a satisfying experience, as you know you've done your solemn duty as a fish to provide transportation for your four-legged friends.
Thanks to Noah for sending this one in!