Next on our list of games is Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure. This was one of my favorite games when I was a kid. I adored the show, and I loved the game to pieces, though I never actually had it. So it has been quite a long time since I last sat down to play the game, long enough in fact that I remembered nothing about the game save the fact that I loved it as a kid. So does it stand up to my memories? No. But is it good? Well, let's talk about that.
The story of the game is pretty much standard Tiny Toons stuff. Buster finds a treasure map, and Montana Max steals it. Of course, in the process of fleeing Monty, with the help of Gene Splicer, manage to brainwash Plucky, Dizzy, Hampton, and Clamaty Coyote. He also kidnaps Babs, Fifi, and Shirley. Sadly, the story is missing the wit that made the show so much fun to watch. During the opening scene and in conversations with the bosses, Buster comes off as very plain and rarely has any clever quips to say. And while all the statements do feel like something Buster would say, it definitely feels like it's missing that spark.
Yet, while the story may be missing that spark that fans want, the game is certainly not lacking in references. Even the most common of enemies have come from somewhere within the show. You'll not only be facing off with the likes of Roderick Rat but also the wolverine from the episode about "Peter and the Wolf." And the sprite work of these characters is beautiful, especially the amount of detail that went into Buster's sprite. The only really goofy animation is Buster crossing a rope hand over hand, which really just looks like he's grabbing the rope back and forth with both hands rather than actually moving along it.
However, looking good is not all that a game must do to be good. It is in the actual playing of the game that it falters some. The game controls sort of like a cross between Sonic and Super Mario World. Taken from Sonic is Buster's running animation and the sense of inertia, but that inertia seems a little exagerated, so much so that at times it felt like the rabit was actually resisting my commands. What is taken from Mario is the basic hop and bop gameplay. Unfortunately, the angle of attack seems much less forgiving in this game and any attack not coming from withing a thirty degree angle above the enemy is more likely to hurt Buster instead. The jumps also feel off. Normally, when people say that, they mean that the controlls feel floaty. Buster, on the other hand, controls as if he's got a rubber band attaching him to the ground, and at the moment the jump button is released, he'll rocket to the ground. If you're capable of pressing the jump button fast enough, Buster can jump without ever really leaving the ground.
Bosses in the game are comprised of Buster's brainwashed buddies that are being controlled by Dr. Splicer. Unlike how most games would do it, Buster doesn't actually fight his friends to free them of their brainwashing cap. He actually fights the crazed doctor while dodging the attacks of his friends, which is a nice little twist on the formula. After defeating Splicer and saving one of his buddies, Buster will talk with them for a moment, which is often when most of the game's humor occurs. One such example is when Plucky fights Buster twice, once under the control of Splicer and the second as the Toxic Avenger just for the heck of it, which is a nice homage to Plucky's character and a neat throw back to the show.
Perhaps the sadest part of the game is that, for the most part, the level layout is generally very good, and those times it's not are either early in the game where it is playing like Green Hill Zone or late in the game where it's being hard just because it can. In later levels, enemies are placed at just the right spots to make you jump into a trap. Luckily, this annoyance can be allieviated in two ways.
The first is by using Buster's special abilities. In each area, Buster will have access to a minor side character, such as Sneezer or Lil' Beeper, who, after collecting fifty carrots, will be usable by pressing A. This freezes the action on the screen while the character summoned preforms an attack destroying all enemies on screen. However, this action is often fairly slow and gets rather annoying after seeing it a few times.
The second way to decrease the annoyance is by collecting hidden bells in the levels, which add one extra heart to Buster's life bar for as long as he remains alive. With the bells, it is possible to gain up to five hearts, but as soon as you die, Buster goes back to three. Luckily, health refilling hearts are plentiful enough that most players should be able to keep their hearts at five for a good while unless they blunder into one of the instant death spike traps.
The game's music is for the most part good, although the various remixes of the main Tiny Toons theme does get annoying after a while, especially considering it is used so often: At the Title, as the main music of the first area, sped up for the invincibility item, and sampled for the stage victory music just to name a few. Those songs not sampled feel inspired by either the Sonic games, Carnivale music, orsometimes both. The sound effects, on the other hand, are fairly annoying, especially the jumping noise, which is a bit on the shril side.
Though I must accept that the game is not as good as I remembered, it is far better than it could have been. When it comes right down to it, Buster's Hidden Treasure is the exact opposite of Goof Troop. The gameplay is flawed, challenging, long and has added replayability due to hidden levels and bonus stages. It is not broken by any means, but it is frustrating. With a little time and patience one will eventually stop feeling those little kinks in the games armor.
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