With my last Nintendo Power Recap, I picked Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose for my next Quality Control pick. This was in part because I was a fan of the Tiny Toon Adventures TV series, and partially because I kind of liked the last Looney Tunes game I played, Death Valley Rally. So, we’ll see how well this game holds up.
Playing as Buster Bunny, you travel through various stages based on either cartoons from Tiny Toon Adventures (like the ACME Loonaversity homecoming football game), or new stories (such as a western story and a space opera story).
The jumping controls are very solid. One level in the game, where you you have to jump on a series of bubbles and balloons to proceed across the stage, requires for ultra precise jumping, but the controls are good enough that I only missed less than a handful of jumps, and it was clear that it was my fault, not the control’s fault. Additionally, several of the stages require strategies for the boss fight other than "smack the guy repeatedly", including feeding them objects in the environment, which makes for a nice touch as well.
The game tries to catch some of the humor from the Tiny Toon series, but it just doesn’t quite do it. Where Death Valley Rally was based on the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons, which were based heavily on slapstick, the humor in Tiny Toons was based as much on dialog as on slapstick. They don’t capture the slapstick very well, and when they try to do the dialog, they miss out on either clear jokes, or cut running jokes from the series that should clearly be in certain places, but aren’t. For example, at the beginning, when Babs and Buster Bunny introduce themselves, they don’t do the “No Relation” joke, which seems like a little thing, except it’s in every single Babs and Buster cartoon ever. For those unfamiliar with Tiny Toons, imagine a Simpsons game where Homer never, ever, ever, ever says “D’oh”.
While the game’s jumping controls are solid, it runs into problem during the levels that require a great deal of dashing and use of attacks. Enemies in the game constantly respawn, unless you’re in an area where you’re trying not to fall off the screen. While this does, in theory, provide a great way to grind for extra lives in some of the levels, this still runs into a problem with the attack animation. Specifically, Buster’s attack, a backflip kick, “hops” forward a bit before actually starting the animation, during which you’re vulnerable. After you land, there’s a brief period before you can attack again, meaning that if you’re surrounded, you’ve got no way out. There is a jump-and-dash attack you can do, except the order of the attack is actually dash-and-jump, and if you’re dashing and not jumping, you’re vulnerable. You can’t jump on enemies heads to take them out either.
Consequently, for a lot of levels, you’re stuck juggling between your jump attacks and your jump dash, while you try to do keep from being surrounded, while you also try to progress through the level.
Normally, this wouldn’t be too bad, as the solution to this problem would be, “just keep going forward”, except for the other problem with the game’s dash ability. There are some levels where you, as a player, have to keep dashing forward while the edge of the screen keeps coming up behind you. These stages tend to require rote memorization, which as I’ve said before, is bad game design. They also require precision jumping, but with less feedback then the some of the more standard jumping stages about when you actually should be jumping. This in turn means that you’ll probably die multiple times on one stage before you get your timing precisely right.
One more problem – in several stages in the game there are portions where you’re dashing upwards, using wall dashes and triangle jumps to out-run the bottom of the screen. The problem with these stages are that the stages essentially use rubber-banding – if you start to get some breathing room on the bottom of the screen, the game will speed up the bottom of the screen so it can catch up. This lead to a couple problems on two stages , one with Calamity Coyote and one involving the ACME Looniversity Cafeteria where I ended up dying repeatedly due to some eccentricities about how barriers in the levels are located, and because the rubber-banding of the bottom of the screen took away the space I needed to recover.
This game has serious problems. Aside from just lacking the character and sense of humor of the series, it runs into some serious control problems with hurt several stages in the game. I had fun outside of the points where you have to do a lot of combat, and where you have to do a lot of dashing. However, those pieces take up about half of the game, leaving you with a game that can, at best, only be described as “half-good”. I’m going to recommend giving this game a miss.