Saturday, July 3, 2010

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

Anyone who played video games back in the 1990s undoubtedly remembers the fantastic licensed games that Capcom consistently released. However, some people seem to have forgotten that Konami was churning out licensed games at the same time that not only rivaled, but sometimes surpassed, those of their competitors. While they are much better known for their original IPs like Contra and Castlevania, Konami also released a number of stand-out titles using the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, and Tiny Toon licenses, among others. Most gamers will surely remember the first two franchises, but unfortunately, the Tiny Toon Adventures games have been somewhat forgotten.

Buster Busts Loose! is a platformer at heart, despite deviating from the basic platforming formula (in the football level, for example) from time to time. Buster's primary means of attacking his enemies consists of first pressing the jump button, directly followed by the drop-kick button (very similar to the Bonk games from the Turbo-grafx 16). This mechanic takes a little getting used to, as most of us are accustomed to simply jumping on our opponents. He is also given the ability to dash, which is a crucial gameplay element in a number of levels. With the edge of the screen chasing you at a frantic pace, you'll be forced to speed along in classic Sonic fashion as you leap across treacherous gaps, collecting stars (coins) along the way. Buster can also use his dash to run straight up walls, often leading to the discovery of hidden items.
Upon each level's completion, you will be given the opportunity to play one of five randomly selected mini-games, giving you a chance to rack up a handful of extra lives in the process. The majority of these are skill-based, which is a welcome departure from the usual games of chance. While none of these mini-games make or break the overall experience, they provide a nice break from the action.

The soundtrack isn't the most memorable I've ever heard, but it does a great job of capturing the essence of the cartoon...and it actually incorporates the show's theme song into the game on numerous occasions, something that was relatively uncommon in both the 8 and 16-bit generations. Meanwhile, the visual department is where Buster Busts Loose! shines. The levels and backgrounds are incredibly detailed and the animations are amazingly smooth. All of your favorite Tiny Toons characters are identical to their Saturday Morning counterparts, which is yet another feat that was often unaccomplished in this era.

Konami released a multitude of top-teir SNES titles during the systems life-cycle, and while Buster Busts Loose! doesn't reside at the top of the list with the likes of Contra, Castlevania, Mystical Ninja, etc., it is certainly a worthy addition to any platforming fan's collection. The handful of innovations that it introduces are welcome additions to the genre and make for an experience that you won't soon forget. Unfortunately the game is over far too soon, leaving much more to be desired.

Overall Score: 6.7/10 (Any self-respecting fan of the platforming genre owes it to themselves to play through this game. Despite its shortcoming in the length department (only six levels), Buster Busts Loose! provides a unique experience, and a moderate challenge, for both unseasoned and veteran gamers alike.)

- Kevin

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