An imitation it may be, but this game has what it takes to fully utilize the Warner Bros license that it has.
Gelugon_baat wrote this review on .
Tiny Toons: Babs' Big Break appears to be one such game - at least until the player starts playing.
The premise of this game has Babs Bunny, whose mentor is Bugs Bunny, having a dream of becoming a great actress. After some self-serving narration done by Babs herself to boost her own self-esteem, the player is then shuffled towards a view of the trio of player characters, who foresee that she is going to get into trouble (though they only managed to get that prediction about "there will be trouble" right).
The trio of player characters happen to be none other than Babs' male peers: Buster Bunny (whose mentor is also Bugs Bunny), Plucky Duck (a Daffy Duck wanna-be) and Hamton J. Pig (associated with Porky Pig).
The introduction would have made for a good first impression of the game, except that it cannot be skipped, which makes it a detriment to any replay attempts. (An absolute game-over also forces the player to sit through this introduction again as well.) Already, a highly critical player would be having doubts about this game at this very, very early stage of the game.
When the game starts proper, the player is greeted with a briefing by Babs before every level. As can be expected from a Looney Toons spin-off, this briefing is actually a (poorly) disguised attempt at breaking the fourth-wall. Most of the statements that she makes during these briefings would logically apply more to herself, but otherwise directed at the player, they serve to inform the player of the trouble that lie ahead in that level.
When the first level starts proper, any experienced Nintendo game consumer would notice right away the inspirations for the game design. Super Mario Bros is one of these, as is evident from the player characters' ability to jump with gusto and stomp and incapacitate (most) enemies on the way down, as well as the presence of inexplicably floating boxes waiting to yield their contents (in this case, they literally spit them out).
There are also hollowed-out tree roots that lead to underground portions of a level; these are obvious takes on the pipes in the Super Mario Bros. games. There are also sparkling shiny things (in this case, diamonds) suspended in the air, waiting to be retrieved and converted into extra lives.
However, this is where the similarities in gameplay ends. Super Mario Bros' gameplay formula is a proven good one, so this imitation may be brushed off as a proverbial attempt at flattery. How this game differentiates itself from its inspirations will be described shortly.
The briefing that Babs give is intended to inform the player of obstacles that do not resemble the ones in games inspired by Super Mario Bros. These obstacles are insurmountable, until the player obtains the help of another character in the Tiny Toons franchise.
These obstacles, of course, only serve to showcase the cameo roles of these side characters. How they remove the obstacle is not up to the player to decide, much less control, and this is enacted in cutscenes that, fortunately, can be amusing enough to be a worthwhile watch.
Some of them also require a bit of persuasion to join the player characters, and this usually involves what seem to be mini-boss fights, except that they do not involve cartoon violence. These parts of the game break up the usual gameplay of getting from one end of the level to another.
(The rest, however, often involve simple find-the-button quests.)
The way that the player converts shiny bits into extra lives (or other items) is also different in this game. It does use the convention of shiny bits automatically being turned into extra lives upon reaching a collection threshold of a predetermined number, but the player can also take the risk of spending them on entry fees for a couple of mini-games, which can be joined if the player character can reach a certain location in the level that is away from the beaten path that the player would take to reach the level's end.
One of them is a racing mini-game, in which the chosen player character races against an NPC that is similarly chosen by the player. It doesn't matter which player character it is; all three have the same racing prowess and the player advances them by the time-honored technique of mashing a couple of buttons alternately as fast as possible.
This mini-game would have been dull if not for the peculiar NPC opponents. Not surprisingly, these are other Tiny Toon characters. Choosing different opponents yield different rewards - if the player wins that is. This mini-game would seem unremarkable, if not for at least one of the NPCs behaving differently from the rest.
Little Beeper (who is an associate of the Road Runner) would give the player character a head-start before speeding off to catch up with and (likely) overtake the latter. This can be quite exhilarating to watch in action.
(Of course, such peculiar behaviors are intended for game balance - which is welcome.)
The other mini-game also involve mashing buttons (and mashing heads), but is less frantic and is perhaps more sophisticated than the racing mini-game.
(It is worth noting here that there is a score counter for this game, but it is only shown in the player character selection screen and in between levels - probably in a move to reduce screen clutter.)
As for the player characters themselves, they would be little more than the same player character but with different sprite models. On the other hand, each of them has a unique fruit- or vegetable-based item that he can throw. Buster's carrot is thrown in a parabolic loop and can phase through obstacles, Plucky's pineapple can bounce off walls and other obstacles, and Hamton's watermelon can be used like a bowling ball to clear swathes of enemies in a row.
These items are handy in defeating enemies who otherwise have to be gotten rid of by conventional stomping, though they do share separate stockpiles of these items.
Speaking of enemies, most of them are characters from Tiny Toons, usually those with mean streaks. The more generic and less-known meanies end up being the stereotypical clones of the same goon-creature that patrol the levels waiting to be stomped on by player characters or touching careless ones.
The rest are characters that have been specially designed for this game, but otherwise have the themes of Tiny Toons in their design concepts. These either fulfill the role of the usual patrolling goon, or as some other form of impedance on the progress of the player character. Few of them are remarkable.
The bosses are, however, more interesting to fight. As expected, most bosses are characters picked out of the Tiny Toons or even the Looney Toons franchises. Most of them involve quite a lot of jumping and dodging, though these motions are not necessarily intended to harm the boss. In fact, some of these boss fights are not so much fights as they are attempts at fulfilling an innocuous request of the 'boss' character. (For example, players have to feed Dizzy in return for his help earlier in a level.)
Bosses who do attempt to actively harm the player characters do not just knock off hitpoints and lives off; they tend to humiliate them by subjecting them to all kinds of embarrassing animations that can be expected from Tiny Toons. Bodily deformations, e.g. being squashed flat, being rolled into a ball, are a staple for such acts. This makes such boss fights quite amusing to watch.
Figuring out their weaknesses can be a bit tough however, as the usual stomping does not work all of the time. All of the player characters' throwing items are also useless against any of them. The game does not give any warning about these boss designs, unfortunately, so some boss fights can be frustrating the first time around. Fortunately, these bosses usually show one or two signs for the times when they are vulnerable.
The art design of the game is what can be expected from a game with a Warner Bros. license. It is cheery, sharp and generally provides high contrast between sprites and their environments.
The background consists of simple textures intended to portray the theme of the current level. These textures tend to be muted, so as to provide contrast against the objects in the foreground, which will be the ones that the player character has to interact with.
A few area designs can be quite unfathomable, such as one early in the game that resembles formations of smoothed stones being moved around; this area happens to be located above a school, for some unknown reason. Even for a game that is associated with Tiny Toons, this is inexplicable. (The most that this reviewer can suspect is that they are hastily finished areas.)
An observant player will notice that for a game with gameplay that is heavily inspired by Super Mario Mario, it has a slower pace of gameplay. Player characters and other sprites move more slowly than those in Super Mario Bros, if only to allow the game designers to draw in a lot of transitional sprites to make the animation smoother, which is a visually good touch.
The slower animations also accommodate the screen size chosen, which allows for large, elaborately drawn sprites. The player will find that despite the player character's sprite taking up quite a lot of the screen, he won't be unwittingly running into enemies and suffering cheap deaths anytime soon.
Another technical achievement that this game has is that it has pretty good memory management. Enemies that had been defeated will stay defeated; they do not get cheap re-spawns that occur when the player character moves away from the screen that they were formerly located in.
Sound designs in this game are also heavily influenced by Warner Bros' kid-friendly franchise, as to be expected from a licensed Konami game. The music soundtracks are either the soundtracks from the animated series that had been strained through 8-bit filters, or classical orchestras that had been given the Tiny Toons' treatment AND strained through 8-bit filters. Most of them are quite appropriate with the theme of the level at hand.
(Some side characters also have their own theme soundtracks, such as a mischievous tune for the unlucky and unhealthily curious feline, Furrball.)
Sound effects include the usual boings, beeps and boops that can be expected from an 8-bit game for kids. However, not every occurrence on-screen has its own indicating noise, though to compensate, the large sprites and their deliberately slow motions should be more than enough to warn the player of what is happening.
In conclusion, Babs' Big Break might have more than a few elements that had been copied from well-known video game franchises, but this game utilizes more than enough charm from its license to make this game different from its sources of inspiration.