Tiny Toon Adventures for the NES is a action platformer that was developed and published by Konami in 1991. It is based on the cartoon series Tiny Toon Adventures, which ran from about 1990-1992. Tiny Toon Adventures was an off shoot of the Looney Toons cartoons and was centered around a group of younger toons who attend Acme Looniversity. There were numerous Tiny Toon Adventures based games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Playstation 1 and 2, GameCube and PC. There was even a planned, but cancelled game for the Atari Jaguar. Suffice to save, the Tiny Toon franchise was fairly strong in the 90’s, even spawning multiple offshoot shows such as Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. The NES version that I am discussing in this review, though, was the first official Tiny Toons game for a home console.
The plot to the game is that Babs Bunny has been kidnapped by the evil Montana Max. You initially start as Buster Bunny and are able to select an alternate character to play as in each level. The alternate characters all have special abilities that Buster himself doesn’t have. For example, if you choose Dizzy (who is like Taz), you have a spin attack maneuver that basically makes you invincible for a short burst. Plucky Duck (like Daffy Duck) has the ability to glide/fly a bit. Furball, who is a cat like Sylvester the Cat, can climb walls (or at a minimum slide slowly down them). Through out each level, you come across star items that when collected, cause you to change to the alternate character. You don’t switch back until you find another star item. Buster himself initially sounds like the one you wouldn’t want to play as, since he has no ‘special’ abilities. But, as you play the game, you will realize that he is probably the best one to play as. He moves faster and jumps higher than the rest of the alternate characters, which for the most part makes the game easier.
The game controls like any standard side scrolling platform game. Directional pad for movement, A to jump and B to use special abilities (which for Buster is running). The controls are very responsive and feel great. You always feel like you are in control of your character, much like Super Mario games on the NES. Because of this, it takes a bit of time to realize that pressing the standard Mario run button doesn’t actually do that for the alternate characters. Not a huge deal, but something to take note of.
The visuals in Tiny Toon Adventures are also really well done. The sprites and worlds are colorful and animated well. Each stage has it’s own theme, whether it is the starting world which is grass or later levels which include things like castles, pirate ships or deserts. The graphics are definitely faithful to the cartoon series which it was based on and makes good use of the Nintendo’s hardware abilities. One can’t help but draw some comparisons to Super Mario Bros 3. Even the UI at the bottom of the screen is similar to that classic game from Nintendo. This isn’t a bad thing, just hard to overlook.
Sounds and music in the game are excellent. From the iconic Tiny Toon Adventures theme song to the boss fight music, the game’s audio was given just as much attention as the visuals and controls. We even get a periodic piece of digitized voice, such as the dodo in-between each level. Clearly Konami knows how to use the NES audio capabilities well.
There are a few flaws with the game which keep me from giving it a perfect score. None of these are deal breakers, but things I couldn’t help but think about when playing. The first issue is the length of the game. There are only 6 ‘worlds’ which each have about 3 stages. Although the game is fairly difficult, it can be beat fairly quickly once you get the hang of it. Those 18 stages aren’t very much content when compared to games like Super Mario Bros 3. The second issue I ran into was Elmyra. She acts as a sort of ‘mini-boss’ for each world. In her quick stages, you have to wait for an exit to appear, dodge her and get to it. If she catches you, though, it sends you back to the beginning of the world (like 1-1). The problem is her stage seems to come after the second stage, before the third, so 1-2. I wouldn’t think much of this issue, but if I die in 1-2, I start at the beginning of 1-2, not back at 1-1. I am not real sure of the logic behind her sending you back to the beginning of the world and it can feel frustrating. I suppose maybe because her character on the show was a spoiled girl who loved animals so HARD that she hurt them (sending them back to the first stage). Her lines in the show usually were like “I want to love you and hug you and squeeze you…”, then she would hug them until their eyes bulged out of their heads.
Despite those minor flaws I pointed out, Tiny Toon Adventures is a well produced and fun title to play. I’d rank it up there with the classics from the system, such as Super Mario Bros (1,2 & 3), Ninja Gaiden, Castlevania, etc… This came at a time when Konami was at the top of there ‘game’ and this title was no exception. If you can track this cartridge down it is a worthy title to keep in your collection and will bring you a great gaming experience.