Genre: Platformer Developer: Konami Publisher: Konami Players: 1-2 Released: 1993
With such a large number of high quality (and sub-par) platformers on the Genesis, does it need another one? If that one is Tiny Toons Adventures: Buster’s Hidden Treasure, then yes it does. Here we have Konami, one of the finest 8 and 16-bit game developers and publishers of them all, with such classics as Castlevania, Contra, Rocket Knight Adventures, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at its best. While we all know past success does not always indicate future success, Konami’s track record of great releases continued with Tiny Toons. I was always a big fan of the show and its characters, many of which appear in the game. Being such a huge fan I might have a slight bias towards seeing all my favorite characters from the show on the Genesis.
The gameplay is great, and Buster has a wide range of moves available to him. Moving left or right he starts at a walk which turns into a run as he gains speed. By then pressing B, he launches into a slide attack. Jumping is the chief method for dispatching foes, and the height of Buster’s jump is controlled by the length of time the button is pressed down. You can also find power ups that act as a bomb and clear the screen of enemies by summoning one of three characters from the show, Little Beeper, Little Sneezer, and Concord Condor. Carrots act as the coins or rings or insert-other-collectable, with fifty earning you a bomb.
Levels are selected from an over world map and can be replayed to find hidden exits and alternate routes through the map. With thirty or so levels, Buster’s Hidden Treasure provides some solid length. Buster is given three hits before he dies, and with a few power ups he can expand it to five. The only instance of instant death throughout most of the game is found on certain type of spikes. Difficulty is given at a moderate increase from easy in the first few levels and really begins to pick up halfway through the game, while the hard setting never becomes excessive or unfair.
Graphically the game is a treat. It features vibrant colors and characters that bring the game to life and give it a cartoony feel that is appropriate to the license. Buster is fully animated, and it shows in his motions for running, jumping, crouching, crawling, hitting a wall or rake, taking damage, dying, and an idle foot-tapping if no buttons are pressed. (This last motion almost seems “borrowed” from Sonic and his impatient look at the player for stalling.) Worlds are colorful and give life to the game. Enemies are bright, nice and look almost as good as their counterparts in the show.
The music, while not amazing, gets the job done nicely. The first couple of levels provide the theme to the cartoon in midi form and the rest of the levels feel just as inspired. While I don’t find myself humming these tunes during the day, I by no means mute the volume while playing. There is a satisfying bounce sound as you land on enemies head but other than that, the sound effects seem lacking. Fortunately the music makes up for it so you won’t notice.
Enough praising! Let’s look at what the game doesn’t do so well. First off, the level choices feel stale. In following the cliché of most platformers, we are presented with plains, forest, cave, magma/volcano, lake/pirate ship, ice, and factory areas. With the exception of the pirate ship, all of these levels are presented in every platformer known to man. At least here the levels are done well enough so that you won’t mind the lack of new and novel areas too much.
Also, with the exception of Elmyra, the bosses don’t pose much trouble and can be eliminated almost too easily. You’ll find yourself quickly defeating your brainwashed friends including Dizzy Devil, Calamity Coyote, and Plucky Duck, among others. Even the final boss of the game doesn’t challenge the player significantly. On another note, it would have been nice to be able to play as other characters from the show besides Buster. Nothing against Buster, as he’s great and all, but variety is nice. The last sin is that the game does nothing to truly stand out despite excelling as a platformer. Though really entertaining, Buster’s Hidden Treasure doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done before, though what’s here is done well.
In the end though, this game is just fun. It combines the feel of the cartoon and solid platforming into one great package. Buster’s Treasure Hunt may not radically shake up the tried and true formula, but it does everything right, and in the end that’s what makes a good game. If you haven’t played this before, you owe it to yourself to track it down and give it a shot, especially if you have fond memories of the cartoon. Luckily it’s a fairly common game and can be had for a pittance. “We’re tiny. We’re toony. We’re all a little looney. It’s Tiny Toon Adventures; come and join the fun!” (couldn’t resist throwing in part of the theme song).
SCORE: 8 out of 10
Screen shots courtesy of Screen Mania.