Thursday, April 18, 2013

VGR Taz-Mania (SNES)

You thought me done with Taz-Mania? Well, here's another one!

VGR: Taz-Mania 
From Sunsoft
Played on Super Nintendo
Also available on Game Boy

Type 3rd person arcade(?)
Year 1992

During the early 90s, animal characters became quite common in the entertainment industry, mascots were apparently everywhere and the whole fad went big.

While at the same time there was a big boom in the animation, thanks to the likes of Warner Bros' Animation's Silver Age and the renewed success of Disney films.

It was the perfect time for bringing Looney Tunes into video games obviously.

And the graphics were finally catching up enough to retranslate that universe in pixels.

While Sunsoft handled the games on Nintendo systems, Sega developed their own separate titles internally.

Today, let's take a look at the Taz-Mania game developed for the Super NES.

A game based on the sitcom of the same name revolving around Taz, The Tasmanian Devil.

Despite what the cover might lead you to think - since it actual levels from the Sega Taz-Mania game - Sunsoft's Taz-Mania has absolutely nothing to do with it. It doesn't feature the same story and it's a completely different game.

You play as Taz once again.

Taz is really hungry. If only he could get his paws on one of those Kiwi birds.

The story in this game could fit in only one line and be summarized by: Taz runs around Tazmania to eat Kiwis.

But wait! Taz is being followed by various annoying foes. Axl & Bull are trying to capture him to sell him to the Zoo. And there's that Tazmanian She-Devil as well.

In this game no complicated levels as well. It's just roads the entire game.

Sometimes deserts, sometimes forests, sometimes snowy landscapes. There's not a lot of unique backgrounds so they'll come back every now and then, there's so few variations. Even attempts at different settings will result in similar already-explored levels; Wacky Land is simply the snowy mountains with a slightly different music.

This game is played from the very unusual 3rd person perspective, that's right "pseudo-3D". To be more precise, the Super Nintendo's very own mode 7 that was used on games such as Mario Kart.

While it's usually used for racing games or bonus stages, here it's an entire game built around that early representation of 3D in 16-bit gaming.

You can run away by pressing Up on the D-Pad. So to run around and avoid obstacles you'll need to keep pressing Up and hit Left or Right (the exact type of gameplay that made people come up with the Analog Stick years later..). You can go backward, and Taz will run to the screen.

There's so few movements Taz can do. Taz jumps and can wave his arms around to try catching the kiwis. By pressing both L and R-trigger you can also growl, but those don't serve any purpose beside having a laugh the first time.

Taz has his signature spinning attack. Which is very useful to get some speed back or run from enemies. BUT it will drain Taz' health in this game. Why? I have no idea... That's like making Mario or Sonic lose life everytime they Jump or Run respectively...

The idea of the game is fun enough on paper.

Taz has a certain number of kiwis to catch every level. Time is running out before the classic Time Over screen.

The goal is to run around those roads and eat some kiwis. There's other things you can eat as well such as colored birds each with its own ability (blue for health, red for time, green for invincibility,..). And some Bushrats sometimes.

All the while avoiding several type of foes. Cars and trucks will run you over, which means losing time and health.

Pterodactyls take you back to the start of the level. Axl & Bull means Game Over, so does the She-Devil who is trying to capture Taz as well for herself. Wendal T. Wolf will grab your face. Didgeri Dingo is delivering stuff for ACME, while it might be gadgets to help you out, most of the time it will be bombs and other traps.

At the end of a stage, while Taz sleeps the things he hate will escape his mouth.

Every stage you have one more kiwi to grab.

Every 3 levels a bonus stage (which is like a regular level minus enemies).

The game had so much potential...

Except the Looney Tunes theme song when you boot the game, at the Start Menu, the rest of the music is just plain bad, generic beats you'd expect from one of those electronic keyboards.

Overall, pretty bad. Really. Not much fan, I doubt you'll replay this one after reaching the end the first time.

Instead it gets repetitive very fast. It's such a long tedious games, around 20 levels counting bonus stages. No variety, the same thing the entire game.

No many levels, visually. It plays like a racing game with a gameplay focused around collectibles. What an awful idea... And it suffers from the "Sonic's Ass" problem Naughty Dog would try to avoid years later with Crash Bandicoot.

It's a shame, really. Since Sunsoft's Taz-Mania is the one that actually looks the closest to the cartoon series.

Taz-Mania does look fantastic if you ignore everything else.

I'm pretty sure the game was originally intended as a sidescroller since Taz's sideways animation looks so much better than his run forward. And it probably used the mode 7 for the bonus stages. And they recycled all of it in this final product.

Sunsoft's port of Taz-Mania on the Game Boy in 1994 does feature visually similar segments as bonus stages [1], but is actually a sidescrolling game [2][3].
I give it:
1 / 3 Pacman!

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