Friday, October 31, 2014

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! (SNES) Review

Written: October 28th-31st, 2014
Alternate Name: Tiny Toon Adventures [|O|]
Year: 1992, 1993 | Developed and Published by: Konami
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit.  Now who doesn't love Looney Tunes?  And while we're on the subject of Warner Bros. greatness, who doesn't have fond memories of Tiny Toon Adventures=)
Image from Wikipedia
Having lasted five years from 1990 to 1995, the multiple award-winning animated TV series Tiny Toon Adventures was a very fun and creative show with great setups and pint-sized characters transpiring over at ACME Looniversity trying and learning to be the next Looney Tunes.  Speaking of, some of the veteran characters are professors there, which makes it all the more great; even better is that it was produced by none other than Steven Spielberg, which I find incredible.  =)  I haven't seen the show in a long time but I remember enjoying it so much when I was little.  *sigh*  I miss it.  =(  Like Looney Tunes before it Tiny Toon Adventures was a huge hit with audiences.
Image from Wikipedia
And since it was a success there was no doubt that there were going to be video game adaptations, and there were.  There were a total of nineteen released video games based on Tiny Toon Adventures made between 1991 to 2002, with only two being canned during production (one for the Atari Jaguar and the other for the PlayStation 2); with the last game being Treasure's PAL-made Buster's Bad Dream for the Game Boy Advance... which for some reason took two and a half years to release the American version Scary Dreams (in 2005, which itself is a rarity; good thing the Game Boy Advance is region-free).  But that's not what I'm talking about today.
"Eat up, Dizzy!"
This segment gives me the arcade Mario Bros.
Rather, today I'm talking about the 1992 Nintendo 16-bit platformer of the series Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! (which got released in America and Europe in 1993).  Konami was pretty competent when it came to making licensed video games for Batman, Animaniacs, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games, and Tiny Toon Adventures was no exception in that regard.  I first played this game at a friends' house after having escaped from Hurricane Rita back in 2005.  When I first played it I liked it, of course, but I had only played a little of it at the time.  It wouldn't be until July 2009 that I would play thoroughly this game, several months after one of my cousins loaned his SNES to me.  So after having started my eBay adventures and SNES hunt with Mr. Nutz and Ys III: Wanderers from Ys, I decided that Buster Busts Loose! would be my third SNES game.  After having gotten some more time and experience with it and having played through it several times over, does this venture hold up?
This can only explain one thing...
Buster Busts Loose! doesn't exactly follow a single plot to speak of so much as a series of episodes.  And considering that (from what I remember) the TV episodes themselves sometimes consisted of a series of episodes that's rather appropriate.  In the game you control Buster Bunny, one of the main protagonists from the show and one who aspires to be the next Bugs Bunny (he even looks like a younger Bugs).  Throughout the game he'll be going through literally different scenarios; such as venturing inside ACME Looniversity, perusing in a Western seguing to a train sequence, exploring a haunted mansion, going sky high, navigating through a clever homage to a classic sci-fi series, and even playing a football game... sorry, "rugby" for Europeans.  And before each stage there are humorous cutscenes setting up the area you're about to go through.  =)
Dashing upward
Buster Bunny has got solid controls going for him, and his own arsenal of moves makes for intuitive gameplay.  His main source of attack is by doing the jump-kick attack towards enemies, which will make him do a flip and cause him to plow through enemies should he face downward (after said flip is over).  By kicking while in the air Buster will gain a little more airtime until he falls right down.  He can also dash by holding down either the left or right shoulder buttons so long as the dash meter still has some pink in it.  One of the ways that he can stop running is by letting go of either shoulder button or by holding down causing Buster to slide a little (so long as he's on the ground).  One of the advantages of gaining traction is that it'll enable you to scale upward walls, even allowing to jump from wall to wall; which is actually a necessity in several parts of the game.  Simple as the controls may seem, they're quite good.
Look out, there are Mode 7 ghosts behind you
The visuals are soft and pastel-toned with its succinct abundance of colors, which makes Buster Busts Loose! pleasing for the eyes.  =)  Well, it's partly pastel-toned, but the backdrops and foregrounds do provide good eye candy with their own set of details and the way they faithfully capture the look and charm of the show that its based on is also nice.  The interiors of ACME Looniversity have got a neat feel for them (especially the library and the cafeteria), the Western stage has got a fitting color scheme (right down to the train and the parallax scrolling cacti), and the haunted mansion looks incredible.  It starts out in a lonely hallway with dimly lit candles in the foreground inhabited by ghosts that come (and rotate thanks to Mode 7) in every direction, which eventually segues to an atmospheric room with creepy stained glass windows which sometimes fade to different characters (from Hamton to Babs, for example).  Almost feels like a Castlevania stage (heh, same developers).  =)
The cutscenes are presented from a stationary film strip, which I think is rather clever; it reminds me of how in Jerry Boy (Smart Ball to American audiences) you could select an area to play in inside the confines of a film strip.  There's a fair amount of Mode 7 in the game, one of the times being when Buster jumps a rope being tethered by two Mexican mice (no relation to Speedy Gonzales, I presume) which looks more like a rubber band to me than a rope.  Buster's walking and attacking animations are very fluid, and when he runs it's almost as if he's got wheels for feet (it's cool when seen in motion).  Even his crouching and idle animations are fun to look at.  The other characters and enemies are well-designed as well; like Plucky, Furrball, Hamton, Montana Max, et al.
Jumping is fun!!
The music in Buster Busts Loose! is fun to listen to as well.  The music has got its own Konami charm which makes it appealing, and the instrumentation I personally feel was well-chosen.  The Tiny Toon Adventures theme has been faithfully translated to Nintendo 16-bit format (minus the lyrics), and some of the songs lifted from the show turned out pretty solid (like the cutscene and boss fight themes).  And actually there are a few variants of the Tiny Toon Adventures theme song throughout the game, albeit in different tempos and composition (like in the Western and Space Opera stages), which is quite clever.  The haunted mansion theme sounds dark and menacing which would fit right at home in a Castlevania game, and the sky stage has got a fun and pleasant beat going for it.  The sound effects are spot-on, like the ones for when Buster dashes or for when an enemy bites the dust.
Bubble Hopping
There are only three difficulty settings in this game: Children (Easy), Normal, and Challenge (Hard).  Children is the shorter and more simplified version of the game with only segments of the five stages being available before you head to the next area.  Normal is the closest to the full game version where all the stages are fully available--including the one that wasn't available in Children mode--you start with three hearts in each stage (no matter what, but before the end of each stage you do have a chance to gather two more hearts), and you get to face the final boss (but only see a black credits screen).  Challenge is aptly named for it's the same as Normal, only this time you begin each stage with one heart (with only a chance to up it to three), which makes things a little bit challenging if you're not careful.  If you do manage to beat Challenge mode, however, you'll get to see the secret ending (it's worth the trouble for that; I managed to accomplish that once).  Also depending on the difficulty you may have either a high or low amount of continues.  =<
What makes these areas manageable on the harder difficulty setting is the fact that each stage (with the exception of the football one) is split into parts, so that way when you lose a life you'll pick up from that segment.  In these areas you'll be facing against enemies and try to overcome some obstacles.  There are instances when dash jumping is mandatory requirement, particularly in the few moments of force scrolling.  Making things embarrassing in this regard: being caught by the back side will cause you to go offscreen, losing a life as opposed to just pushing you like in most games.  It's sad when that happens.  =(  Sometimes there will be a slew of enemies, each of which will leave one star once they're down for the count, so it's highly best to properly judge when to dash and when to flipkick attack.  There are other fun ways of it challenging you, such as the method of progressing in higher spots in the haunted mansion.  Getting a game over won't result in the star counter reverting back to zero, and should a hundred be collected a life will be gained.
After each stage you'll be given a chance to earn more lives through the Wheels 'O' Game (the equivalent to the Wheel of Fortune) in one of five bonus games.  Selection, however, is random so the moment the arrow points to that game once the wheel stops spinning that's the one you're going to play.  The first I'll highlight is Furrball's Championship Squash which will have you bounce the squash to the wall just enough times in the allotted minute that you're given.  Bouncing the ball on a passing character will either earn you a life, slow down time, or stop it; if you can manage to bounce the squash until the bars on the right become completely pink you'll gain a life.  Careful though since it will ricochet off the walls at a slow or fast pace, so it's best to catch up to it when the moment calls for it.  Love the reflections on the floor.  =)
In Babs, Find Your Friends! you take control of Babs who must navigate a maze and rescue her friends who've been held in captivity.  But it's not that simple as you must avoid making contact with Elmyra and Arnold (curiously, the in-game rules neglect to mention Dizzy, who you must also avoid contact with).  In Plucky Duck's Go-Go Bingo you have several tries at getting bingo by pressing any of the buttons which will select a ball and fill the spots of the character that Plucky shouts out (if Calamite Coyote is shouted, all spots with him on the card will be filled).  I like the latter a lot, but the former's not too shabby.
Then we've got Mystery Weight Challenge, where there are five characters competing to see who weighs the most... because that's entertainment, I guess?  <=\  It's actually part-guessing game as well, as you select which of your crew (on the left) fills which position, while the opposition on the right is random and a surprise; the more your character weighs than the other, the bigger the chance of earning lives.  And finally we've got Hungry Boy Hamton, who automatically walks on the route that's laid in front of him.  The catch is that the route can be altered and rerouted as well, which is necessary in order to avoid Hamton either falling off the path or falling down the hole.  With each apple he munches a life is gained.  I dig the Tetris border; not sure if that was intentional, but nice touch.
In the game the bonus game is only selected for you, but if you want to play the ones you want at your own desire, then enter this password in the password screen.  You'll be taken to a screen where you can select the game (and the wheel cutscene), but if you want to actually start the full game you'll have to turn it off and then on in order to do so.

Now that's one way to reach the highest
book on the shelf
And since I brought up the password: if not for the easy access to the bonus games it would be a complete moot point, especially since you're never given any passwords while you're playing the game; and while there are some passwords to continue your progress, it's only for the easier setting (not found on your own), and the only way to beat the game is to do so in one sitting.  The main thing impeding your way of beating Buster Busts Loose! is its limited amount of continues, but for the most part it's manageable without any problems.  The one time you may come across problems?  The football stage.  It plays to the regular football rules where if you manage to proceed to a certain point then you'll get a first down; should the adversary stop you on their fourth down you'll have to start all the way from that stage's beginning.  Burn!  =(  Requires a bit of trial and error, but is doable in the end.
Perfect formation!
So with everything that you've read so far it sounds like Buster Busts Loose! is a real winner, right?  Well,...... it is and it isn't.  The game does a good job at capturing the spirit and charm of Tiny Toon Adventures, with Buster always saying the appropriate thing in appropriate cutscenes (which makes them humorous).  And aesthetically it's very well done, plus it plays really good.  Which makes me talking about this game difficult because it comes up short as a whole.  At one point I thought it was too short at six stages, but it's actually reasonably lengthy at fifty or sixty minutes.  No, the main issue I have with this game was that there wasn't enough to make it great.  =(  Six stages, that's it!  I wouldn't have minded it so much if this wasn't the only Tiny Toon Adventures platformer on the SNES, but unfortunately it is.  The NES and Game Boy both had two platformers based on the series, but the SNES had only this one.
Hahaha, oh my God, even when the game is over Buster always knows the right thing to say.  XD  Actually, that's a clever way of expressing gamers' dismay at how short a particular game was... at least, to me it is.
Train bustin'
I do still like the game, however, don't get me wrong; hell, I love it and have so much fondness for it.  I just personally wish that Konami could've thrown in a few more stages.  The bonus games substantially make up for the slight brevity of the game, but not completely.  It's not the only Tiny Toon Adventures video game that's come out on the SNES, for in 1994 there was the sports compilation Wacky Sports Challenge; though I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed just slightly by this game being the only Ninty 16-bit platformer of the series.  It's got a reasonable difficulty, and it's worth beating on the hardest difficulty setting if you've got the time and perseverance for it.  I'm making it sound like I think the game is bad; it's not, far from it.  It's a pretty good game by itself, and it's a lot of fun while it lasts.  As for the best 16-bit platforming option for Tiny Toon Adventures?  Ummmmm,......

Image from Wikipedia
play Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure.  It's a much better game!  =)  ......  Well, subjectively speaking, of course.

All I've got to say is if you want to play a fun game starring Buster Bunny, don't expect too much from Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! and you'll be just fine.  It's not a perfect game by a longshot but it sure is a fun experience when you get down to it (even though the football segment sometimes annoys me, it's more fun than bad).  It's got a lot of charm and spirit, the gameplay is enjoyable, and the stages themselves are nice while they last.  While I do wish there was a bit more, I do not regret playing it as it is a lot of fun.  =)  Not the best Nintendo 16-bit platformer Konami crafted but definitely not the worst either.  It's good, but not great, but at the end of the day I'm glad they served up some quality fun for this one.
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>

P.S. No, there was no way I could remove the "Press Start" message on the title.  =(  Camera.

P.S. 2 Didn't quite plan for this to be a Halloween review, but there it is.  Happy Halloween, everybody!

P.S. 3 I'm not quite sure why Konami chose "Buster Busts Loose!" as the subtitle.  Sure, Buster's in it, though I didn't quite see anything relating to busting loose (maybe the fact that he's going around).  The cover art is even more confusing because Buster's wearing a loincloth, which he doesn't wear at all in the game, or even partake in a jungle-like setting for that matter.  I know that the Japanese original versions of their licensed games usually don't have subtitles, but... was "Buster Busts Loose!" really the best they could come up with?  =|

P.S. 4 Curious how pretty much every Tiny Toon character should appear in the bonus games except Buster himself.  Hmmm.  Well, he does have a lot to do, so I could understand how he'd take a break.

P.S. 5

Yeah, Buster!  Show off them flips o' yours!  =)

Thank you for reading my review, my reader.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought.  Happy Halloween!!!  =)
"Eh... What's up, Doc?"
Somewhere out there Bugs Bunny is indulged in self pride, or something else.

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