Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 20, 2003
Every year we see tons of mediocre Game Boy Advance games released that have been rushed out to release in unison with their big-budget console counterparts or a hyped up feature film. Or both. The latter is the case with Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and while I haven't played the console titles nor have I seen the new movie, I have many fond memories of Looney Tunes as a kid. I didn't expect a lot from this game - all I was hoping for was an enjoyable romp that would keep me entertained for a couple of hours.
Instead, I spent a couple of hours simply trying to finish the first level alone. To put it simply, the game is incredibly boring and bland. It's pretty unfortunate, too, because the premise actually had potential. In the game you can control either Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, each with their own set of attributes. Bugs can use his ears to hover in the air for a few seconds and can also make use of the rabbit holes scattered about the stages. Daffy only has a slightly longer jump than Bugs (not considering Bugs' propeller action), but he can swim in some of the game's water. They also use slightly different weapons at times - for example, Bugs can use a piano as a weapon that drops on enemies heads, while Daffy uses an anvil. You may switch between the two characters at any time.
This seems like a good idea, but the differences between the two characters are often more subtle than they are important. I found myself simply not caring whether I was Bugs or Daffy because I didn't have a good reason to be either one. It seems that Daffy has an advantage, being able to swim in the game's water; in reality he can only swim in about half of the water. For some reason he can't swim in brown water, only in blue water. Bugs' hovering ability rarely comes in handy, either. A lot of the time you'll simply be wandering around on flat land.
The problem isn't really in balancing the characters, though. The problem is in the incredibly repetitive gameplay. It's a fetch-quest if there ever was one. Whether it's picking up dollar bills or rounding up escaped monkeys, the tediousness of the whole affair will get on your nerves quickly. The level design isn't all that interesting, and added to that the not-so-important abilities of each of the characters doesn't help either. You'll run around an area checking out every spot until you can't find anything else, and then you'll try and find a way to reach more uncharted ground.
You get a chance to use a few weapons in the game which I assume were added to spice things up a bit. By stopping in at various mailboxes you can get special deliveries, such as Essence of Road Runner (guess what that does!), a carton of eggs which can be thrown at enemies, electronic magnets that pull metal objects, or a power-up shield that makes you invulnerable for a few seconds. There's also a "Toonerang" given to you by fellow Looney Tune character Foghorn Leghorn that you can use to stun runaway monkeys in order to snatch them. These add a bit of flavor to the game, but since basically everything can be accessed in the first level, they didn't seem too special throughout the course of the game.
There is a cute little mini-game that you can jump into while searching for cash and monkeys; it opens up after collecting a bit of cash in each level. In it, bombs drop from the sky, and it's your job to shove them off of the platform you are on before they explode - or take shelter behind rocks and such if they do. When you successfully knock off a certain number of bombs, you'll earn a little prize before you have to get back to business. It's a fun little distraction from the tedium of the main game.
The graphics in the game actually aren't that shabby. Environments tend to be quite colorful, laden with detailed decorations. If it weren't for the fact that the level design itself was a bit on the dull side and none of the areas repeated themselves, the game would be a fairly nice visual treat. Characters are reasonably detailed as well, and animate quite smoothly without getting blocky or jittery. Speaking of jittery, though, the framerate does take a few dives in crowded spots. It's nothing too terrible, but it is noticeable and it does happen from time to time.
Sound in the game isn't too bad. There's not much voice acting to speak of, although there's some dialogue that would have been nice to hear spoken. The music is pretty good, and actually a little on the catchy side. Sound effects are appropriate, and while they're nothing outstanding they certainly get the job done. You've got your crashing pianos and your falling anvils, and the sounds for such things are good. All in all, I never worried about turning the volume down, although I would have liked to hear some voice acting - it seems appropriate for a Looney Tunes game.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action definitely had potential to be fun, and at times it actually is a little charming. The graphics and sound are good, and the familiar characters are always welcoming. But the monotonous gameplay wears thin all too soon, and what you're left with is a boring game that I can't see anyone enjoying for more than a few hours at best. One would best be advised to skip this one, and instead spend their cash on a ticket to the movies or maybe even the console version of the game.
Score : 5.5/10