Retro Review: Looney Tunes
Published and developed by Sunsoft for Game Boy in 1992 and re-released on the Game Boy Color seven years later in 1999. This simple little platformer stars all of your favorite wacky toons from the show of the same name. Not the first game to take on the merry melodic crew, and certainly not the last.
I feel like Looney Tunes is one of those things that supersedes time, like it's always been there. In reality, the show began it's run in 1930 along with its sister series, Merrie Melodies. Growing up in the 1980s and into the 90s, these cartoons were a big part of my childhood, much like they were for my father before me and probably his father before him. It was almost like it was the ultimate form of free babysitting. You could bring me over to anyone's house and sit me in front of a TV, turn on Looney Tunes (you could practically find it playing on a channel somewhere no matter what time of day), and you wouldn't hear a peep out of me until it was time to leave. Anyway, we're not here to talk about the toon, we're here to talk about a game.
The game stars all your favorite characters each in their very own level. They all play very similarly, with the exception of Porky Pig. Starting off as Daffy Duck, you run and jump and swim your way through this introductory stage all while thwarting your enemies with what I can only describe as what looks like a frisbee. Next up is Tweety, flap your way to the end of the level while avoiding Sylvester and Junior and various traps. Then we have Porky Pig, this level differs from the rest as it's a side-scrolling shooter. Taz comes next and feels more like a bonus game as there are no enemies, just collect as much food as you can in as the whirling devil and the stage ends in 60 seconds. Speedy Gonzalez traverses what seems to be a tomb and destroys badies by stomping on them or with his patented six-shooter gesture, Andele!. When playing as Road Runner, just avoid Wile E Coyote and his ACME foils and take every opportunity you get to stomp his head. Finally, Bugs Bunny rounds out the rear in what seems like a Boss Rush with some bosses from previous levels and some new ones while using the same frisbee from Daffy's level.
Besides the major color palette upgrade in the Game Boy Color, there is only one major difference in the color version. After each stage you get a bonus stage, usually consisting of collecting goodies for points while avoiding danger and running out the clock. The soundtrack is the same in both versions. It's fun and quirky, catchy to a point but can get annoying and frustrating after dying 13 times or so and starting at the same respawn point. Let's talk about that color palette upgrade though. I didn't get to experience the GBC version of the game until much later in my life and I was pretty taken back by the vibrancy that the 15-bit color palette provided for Looney Tunes. Almost like watching the actual cartoon on your little handheld 2 inch screen. In particular, playing Porky's level while the sun slowly sets in the background was pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself!
Much like the cartoon was to keeping me occupied and entertained in the house, the cartridge game was always loaded in my Game Boy and ready to go on those long family road trips. Sitting in the back seat and always trying to get further than the last time I played. Sometimes, only being able to see enough of the game by the generosity of the street lights zooming by as we strolled down the highway. This game holds a special place in my heart. It's not the greatest the Game Boy or the Game Boy Color has to offer and your results may vary, but whenever I pop that cartridge into my little handheld system and immediately hear that first chip-tune of the Daffy Duck level, I'm transported back to my youth and I can't help but grin.