So, I've been on a big kick of retro-gaming love lately and was browsing through lists of top NES games. I'm considering getting a Retro Duo (a third party console that plays both NES and SNES games) so I wanted to find some titles I might track down for it. The only 2 NES games I still have are, well, awful awful games (Platoon and Ikari Warriors II) that we couldn't sell off at multiple garage sales.
The result of this search? I am now filled with tremendous amounts of joy. One of my favourite games as a child that I had totally forgotten about for nearly 20 years now appeared on one of the lists I found...
Much like Mario 3, the game controls flawlessly; a sad rarity among 8-bit platformers. The movement pacing, the jump arcs, the gravity, etc. is all exactly what you would want it to be.
The levels are relatively short when compared with Mario games and other platformers but they still entertain and enemy placement and bosses get progressively more difficult to deal with.
What really gives this game it's own identity is the way the character selection works. You always start out as playing Buster but before each level, you choose a partner to take with you. Your options are Plucky, Dizzy and Furrball. Each of these partners have special abilities that Buster doesn't; my favourite is Furrball who can cling to and jump up walls.
When you grab a ball with a star on it, you change from Buster to your chosen partner. To change back, you need to find another ball.
You also collect carrots much like coins in Mario and, again much like Mario, you can use the carrots to earn extra lives from Hamton.
You might wonder why you would ever want to return to playing as Buster after switching to a partner since he has no special abilities. This might be one minor flaw with the game as the truth is, there are very few reasons. The most major difference between the characters is their speed; all 3 of the partners move slower than Buster, Dizzy being the slowest while Plucky and Furrball move at the same speed, which is an OK balance when you consider that the game (once again, much like Mario) has a time limit on every level. Even so, just the fact that the developers (Konami) actually even thought to balance a character roster in a 1991 platformer based on a cartoon series just blows me away. Speaking of, one other factor that the game may owe its quality to is its date of release.
Released in December of 1991, this game came right at the very tail end of the NES's lifespan, the Super Famicom was already a year old and the SNES came out the same year (in fact, several months before this game). In this respect, Tiny Toon Adventures is very similar to Metal Storm, another fantastic game that came out on the NES after the console was already on its way out.
So how come I'm not gushing over Metal Storm as well? Because I never knew it existed until I saw footage from it in Egoraptor's Sequelitis video about Mega Man X. Tiny Toon Adventures, on the other hand, was one of the most prominent video games of my early childhood, and it damn well deserved to be.
The fact that I forgot about this game entirely for nearly 2 decades is just unforgivable. If you have any love for 8-bit games, especially platformers/sidescrollers, you owe it to yourself to play this one.