Now, I know you’re thinking one of two things: either “oh, awesome; this is one of those neat Tiny Toons games Treasure did for the Game Boy Advance,” or “oh, great; another crappy Games Time Forgot on a crappy licensed game which is only being highlighted because Anthony is nostalgic for the crappy source material it was based on.”
You’re both wrong. Well, admittedly, the first person is more wrong than the second person (I am quite nostalgic for Tiny Toon Adventures, thank you very much). Still, Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose, developed by Konami for the SNES, was probably one of my favorite titles for the system back when I was a younger, more generous and hopeful lad.
With its gorgeous graphics and varied gameplay, Tiny Toon Adventures almost feels like a poor (or young) man’s Earthworm Jim 2: certain mechanics hold it in place, but every subsequent level switches those mechanics up to provide a totally new experience. Also, there are some ridiculously fun bonus levels.
Hit the jump for more. Also, am I the only person who found myself remembering at least 70% of the lyrics to the theme music after hearing it in the above video? That’s kind of horrifying.
To quote the opening cut scene directly:
“Welcome to the world of Tiny Toon Adventures. I’m Buster Bunny.”
“And I’m Babs Bunny.”
“Today we’re going on a big adventure.”
“We’ll start at our school, ACME Looniversity.”
“We have a lot of friends there. Oh my gosh! My class is starting!”
“Buster! Be careful! Some escaped animals have gotten into the school building.”
The entire intro to Buster Busts Loose is actually quite weird and profound, in an existential sort of way: I’ve played quite a few games in my life, but I’ve never played a game where the main character initially states his intention to go on a “big adventure,” right before forgetting what he just said and hurrying off to class.
It’s almost as if Buster knows he’s going to go on an adventure, yet is powerless to stop himself being surprised by it. Both he and Babs know his adventure starts at ACME Looniversity, yet Buster still rushes to get to school as if he’d just be showing up for a normal day of class.
He either totally forgets, or willingly tries to ignore the fact that heading to the Looniversity will start a chain of events which will eventually force him to fight Duck Vader in space. Is he fated to, as the game’s title suggests, “bust loose,” or does he choose to do so? And if he’s fated to do it, then he’s not really “busting loose” from anything, is he?
These are the sorts of questions that I would propose in a Philosophy of Tiny Toons class, were I ever allowed to teach one.
Control-wise, there’s nothing special about Buster Busts Loose. You’ve got a dash, an attack, and a jump. Same old, same old.
What makes the game interesting, however, is that you’re never using these movements in the same way for more than a level or two. The very first level at ACME Looniversity is basically structured so as to be an almost Sonic the Hedgehog-esque race track as the player dashes from platform to platform, running up walls and getting dash refills before fighting an easy boss and running to the next stage. With the exception of a boring haunted house stage filled with pseudo-puzzles, each level has something unique and interesting to offer the player.
A western-themed level includes a jump rope minigame, where the player literally has to play jump rope with a couple of friendly-looking rodents before continuing on to the obligatory “run across the top of a moving train” side scroller level. The fifth level is a vertically-themed romp through the sky, the sixth is a space opera level, and so on and so forth.
Level four is by far the most interesting stage in the entire game. Rather than taking on any sort of recognizable side-scroller structure, the entire level — the entire level — is basically a 2D, side-scrolling game of football. Buster can run or pass in his effort to get from one side of the field to the other; if you touch an enemy, you’re tackled, and you’ve gotta hike the ball again on the second down. It’s probably the most unusual (yet satisfying) way I’ve ever seen a football videogame handled, and it’s totally indicative of Buster Busts Loose‘s attitude toward changing up the gameplay every level or so.
Additionally, the levels are bookended by bonus games (viewable below) of variable quality; the squash and maze minigames are solid enough that one could imagine fleshed-out versions being released as standalone titles, whereas the rest are entirely luck-based. Still, they’re fun in their own way, and they further prevent the campaign from ever feeling boring or repetitive.
Also, there’s a boss fight where you have to feed Dizzy the Tasmanian Devil a bunch of food until he passes out.
That is awesome.
Why you’re probably not playing it:
For starters? It’s based on a kids’ TV show that, while entertaining, was nowhere near as good as something like Animaniacs.
Secondly, the controls aren’t really that great. I see no legitimate reason for Buster’s dash to be a limited resource (apart from the satisfaction one feels when successfully stringing together a huge run without stopping once), Buster’s spinning attack could just as easily be replaced by allowing him to jump on enemies’ heads, and I can’t get the damned blue rabbit to slide on his belly for the life of me.
Ultimately, Buster Busts Loose is incredibly easy to NOT emulate, and it’s quite fun in its own simplistic, childish sort of way. If you’ve never played the game before, I’d suggest either finding a password (made up of portraits of characters from the show rather than actual numbers or letters, of course) that allows you to skip straight to the football level, or just playing Earthworm Jim 2, which takes the design philosophies at work in Busts Loose and turns them up to eleven.
Either way, I can totally recite like all of the Tiny Toon Adventures theme song from memory once that music starts up.