Found in the looney bin, not the bargain bin.
Remember Tiny Toons, the miniature versions of their elder counterparts, the Looney Tunes? Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, this show was full of non-stop wackiness, cartoony hijinks, and the occasional byte of morality and ethics. In the show, all the characters were students at Acme Looniversity, a totally legitimate post-secondary institution where the young bucks of the day learned the ways of cartoon comedy, with classic Warner Bros. characters serving as professors. Yep. Pretty much every character from the old cartoons has a youthful counterpart. Even the rancourous Beaky Buzzard somehow bred and fostered a child (the daft Concord Condor). The show exploded in popularity in the 1990s, and thus, the cash-ins began. Video game adaptations were an inevitability, and Konami was given free reign to create them. It's probably for the best — Warner Bros. could have easily just asked LJN to cover it, with disastrous results — because this game, the first of the Tiny Toon games, is actually pretty darn good.
There are six areas that Buster & Co. can visit, including grasslands, a haunted forest, and my personal favourite, Wacky Land, before finally ending up at Montana Max's money-marveling mansion. (And before anyone calls me out on it, yes, I know it should be spelled "Wackyland", but someone down in Konami Localization Central either didn't watch the show first or took a quick cat nap on a space bar.) The first four areas are divided into three stages, but the final two areas — Wacky Land and the mansion — are single-stage outings. They really should have fleshed out Wacky Land more because that would have made the game amazingly awesome.
Prior to starting in a new area, you'll get to choose your partner out of Plucky Duck, Dizzy Devil, or Furrball the Cat, though you always have Buster Bunny at your disposal. And I do mean disposal because I ended up growing more fond of the other characters, who actually have useful special abilities, as opposed to being a mediocre rabbit. Confidence is not a fighting skill, Buster! Doesn't hurt, but it's not going to get me through a field of ravenous mouse people wearing striped shirts now, is it, Buster?! *deep breath* The other characters can be switched in for Buster when you find a ball with a star on it&mdasher, no, apparently it's called a "Toon-A-Round". Personally, I'm more fond of tuna rounds. Switching to Plucky gives you a mild flying (more like gliding) power, Dizzy Devil can spin like a tornado to knock out enemies and obstacles, and Furrball can scale walls with his claws. Plucky does make navigating levels a bit more calming, especially during the occasional plunge underwater.
Beyond this, Tiny Toon Adventures is your standard NES platformer. In typical old-school Konami fashion, the game starts out seeming as though it's manageable, but certain points later on (mostly in Boomtown, the urban area where apartment buildings are infested with bulldogs that throw pots and you can't go very far without finding a tin-tossing tabby) will certainly test your wits. Children, to whom this game should have been directed, will probably get through the first couple of areas with little trouble but will encounter hardships later on and may not finish it. Montana Max's mansion stage took me quite a number of tries as well before I learned some sneaky tricks to survive. But I can say that I have honestly been able to finish it, so Jeff - 1, Konami - 0. The characters are a tiny bit floaty, but in general, the controls are solid, and most errors made were from my own lack of skill (and the occasional distracting chocolate beverage).
Wouldn't have thought so, but cartoon characters have vendettas against each other. And they are REAL.
But there are fun little bonuses strewn throughout. Every second stage in the first four areas will feature a brief task of trying to escape being caught in the arms of the animal-loving Elmyra while sneaking over to the exit door. Collecting carrots in the stages helps you out when you find special doors leading to Hamton's place and cash them in for extra lives. And as a funky Easter egg, if you exit an area with a number of carrots that is a multiple of 11, you'll be abducted by none other than Duck Vader! You only get one chance to defeat him before he flies off, but it's still a nice touch they threw in.
I really dig the presentation of Tiny Toon Adventures as well. The graphics are very light-hearted, even in the darkest of caves. All the characters ooze with goofy expressions, just as they would on the show. I especially enjoy playing as Plucky; his facial expressions for getting hurt, flying about, and waiting around for something to happen are pretty hilarious for simple sprites. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is rather peppy and exciting, and it even has the show's theme song, something Konami really failed with when they developed the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for NES. They even put in the extra touch of including Concord Condor's catchphrase, "Yope yope!" in digitized form. That's class.
The ending threw me for a bit of a loop, though. When I saved Babs, I was actually playing as Plucky Duck, and the colours of his sprite were inverted for some reason. Plucky was one white mallard! As well, the ending gives a list of "Heroes", which for some reason includes Babs Bunny in the list! Ummm, hold on here... Babs is NOT a hero at all. I don't believe the definition of hero has expanded in recent years to include "rabbit who gets captured", unless we consider the heroism that she endured whatever torture Montana Max had in mind, like forcing her to count all of Max's money. Wait, isn't this the same argument Donald Trump used to insult John McCain? Errr, never mind...
This is classic Konami at its finest. The gameplay is solid, the graphics are topnotch for the time, and the music is quite whimsical. It's certainly not a cakewalk to complete, but it also wouldn't stand as one of the more difficult of titles on the console either. With a little practice, it can indeed be done. Any NES owner should have Tiny Toon Adventures as part of their library, regardless of whether or not they were a fan of the show.
*ahem* That's Tiny Toon Adventures, come and join the fun! ...and now this review's done. (I believe that's the third time I've used that line.)