Sunday, 9 June 2013

Looney Tunes (Gameboy)

So close, yet so far

Close, but no cigar. This is a phrase that perfectly encapsulates the greatness that Looney Tunes on the Nintendo Gameboy almost achieves.
First impressions are very good. The graphics are of a high standard, with large, clear sprites and detailed backgrounds, as well as some smooth, high speed scrolling. The music is catchy and jaunty as any good cartoon platformer soundtrack should be, and for the first few levels you will be impressed with the responsive controls and fun gameplay. Then you reach stage 5 and it all comes crumbling down.

The classic monochrome look brings back great gaming memories.

Being a Looney Tunes game with no specific character referenced in the title, you know this will incorporate a wide selection of your cartoon favourites, and this game does not disappoint. Starting with my personal favourite, Daffy Duck, you leap and bound your way across a forest landscape, dipping your feathers in the odd bit of water for fun underwater sections – it is nice to see a duck actually getting to swim in a platform game. As well as being able to make use of the good old fashioned head bounce to dispatch enemies, Daffy also has a frisbee for some reason, which is used to hurl at enemies in order to send them packing. Diamonds are the collectable of choice here, with 100 awarding you a 1up – pretty standard platforming fodder certainly, but great fun nonetheless.

Daffy's stage is probably the best stage. Plus he is the coolest character.

The second stage puts you in the tiny feet of Tweetie Pie as you attempt to flee from Sylvester, who is hungry and has his eyes set on you for lunch. Sweetie’s limited flight is gained by tapping the jump button, as you avoid numerous pitfalls and the respawning feline menace. The stage is enjoyable, despite the fact I always wanted Sylvester to eat the little bastard – cats always get a raw deal in cartoons, just look at Tom & Jerry for further proof.

Porky takes to the skies for some horizontal shoot-em-up action.

The porcine stutterer is up next, with you controlling Porky in a small plane. It's shoot-em-up time f-f-f-folks. It's not going to give Gradius anything to worry about, certainly, but it's a nice break from the platforming, on a par with the shooting sections in Super Mario Land. Next up, Taz takes centre stage for a short level involving smashing through blocks using his trademark tornado move, and chomping down on some meat.

So far the game is a wonderful platformer that ranks up there with the most enjoyable on the monochrome handheld. But then, disaster! Stage 5 rears its ugly head and everything goes to shit. Speedy Gonzales is the culprit. The Mexican rodent on amphetamines stars in not only the worst level of Looney Tunes, but also one of the least enjoyable platforming experiences I have ever had... on any platform. This abomination is due, mainly, to slippery controls and fiddly and inaccurate jumping. Coupled with a useless attack which takes ages to finish (usually resulting in you taking a hit), sadistic enemy placement, rising lava, blocks that crush you and spiked ceilings, and you have one of the most infuriating platforming experiences you will ever have. It is absolutely no fun whatsoever and it took me ages of saving and reloading save states just to get past the damn thing. By this stage my patience and love for the game were at an all time low, so the next stage had to be something pretty damn special to win me over. Unfortunately it is just an aggravating 'infinite runner' style stage featuring Road Runner. Quite frankly, It wasn't worth the effort.

You wouldn't believe how hard it was to get to this stage. Was it worth it? Sadly, no.

It's a real shame too as, up until Speedy's stage, I was really enjoying the game. It is cheerful, fun to play and has a decent level of variety between stages. It came so close to be a whole hearted recommendation, and a game I was eager to sing its praises, but the unforgivable stage 5 absolutely killed it for me. I would still say that it is worth a few quid, or a quick ROM download (shhh) just to experience the first few levels, but for God's sake, turn it off after stage 4. 

Title : Looney Tunes

Developer : Sunsoft

Year : 1992

System : Gameboy