He's the scourge of Tasmania. The nemesis of Bugs Bunny. The original untamed animal. And this time he gets his own game. Following in such classic game footsteps as "Crash Bandicoot" and "Super Mario Bros." comes "Taz Wanted." The game puts the Looney Toon Tasmanian Devil through a series of misadventures that parallel this game structure. Of course no game wants to just be a carbon copy, so the question becomes, can this game top its predecessors or will it just be an uninspired redo of others? This week on "Extended Play" test drive the tornado-spinning creature from Down Under and tell you whether it's like to growl, consume, and destroy everything in sight.
What's up Doc?
You play the Tasmanian Devil. While in the company of your sweet and lovely Tasmanian She-Devil, you're both suddenly captured by the infamous Yosemite Sam. Carted off Yosemite Sam's Park-N-Zoo, Taz is made the main attraction. Of course no cage can hold Taz, and he escapes, prompting Sam to take the She-Devil and set up wanted posters in the four large worlds that you have to play through. The wanted posters themselves include a bounty. Destroy a poster and you collect the bounty. Get caught by a catcher, the bounty is taken away. The more posters you destroy, the more bounty you collect. However more bounty is taken away if you're captured. Your job of course is to avoid capture, destroy the posters as well as the worlds, get your She-Devil back, and get back to Tasmania.
Throughout the four worlds, there are some head-scratching puzzles to solve. However, if you find yourself stuck, the map function gives you hints on how to solve the puzzles. There are also a number of mini-games that serve more as distractions than anything else. They do provide fun breaks, with things ranging from simple mass destruction to racing with floor buffers.
Graphically, the game captures everything you could possibly expect from the Looney Tunes world. From Yosemite Sam's Park-N-Zoo to the streets of Sam Francisco to the wilds of Tasmania, the candy-colored settings and omnipresent Acme-stamped equipment are rendered beautifully. You might spend most of the time during the game strolling through each level and marveling at the attention to detail.
The character animation is impressive as well. Each character's moves are distinctive. Sometimes the fun is just letting Taz stand idle for a second, just to see what kind of moves he will bust out. Or you might have the chance to catch your opponents off-guard and watch as they fall asleep, break dance, or simulate guitar playing with their catcher's nets. You also have the opportunity to disguise yourself as everything from a surfer to a swat team cop. The disguises themselves don't really hide Taz's appearance and serve more as a gag. However each disguise has its own special move which is helpful against your opponents.
The music also enhances the gameplay, as each world has its own distinctive musical cue that plays against the movements of Taz himself. Trying not to attract attention by tiptoeing? The music turns soft and low. Want to trash the place with your tornado spinning? The music turns harsh with a wailing guitar in the background. If you are looking for the late Mel Blanc's distinctive voice talent however, you might be disappointed. The game utilizes a crop of newer voice actors. If you don't really care, then it's fine. Purists may argue this point, but it ultimately doesn't matter in the game, since Taz himself doesn't speak much.
Sadly, with such a promising title there are several things that the game lags behind in, one of them being the gameplay. The controls take a few minutes to get used to, especially if you are using a keyboard. Unless you have a gamepad for your PC or are playing the console version, gameplay is difficult. You may have a hard time running, jumping, eating, spinning, tiptoeing, and growling all at the same time, especially while trying to avoid capture. Also, if for some reason you get frustrated and decide to exit the game and play it again later, you may find that although your overall mission progress has been saved, obstacles and enemies that you took the time to destroy reappear again.
The camera is the worst culprit of them all. It's more of a nuisance than a help. You will often find yourself unable to maneuver the camera just to see where you are going or if an enemy is close because it is stuck behind a wall. Also most of the time the camera is placed fairly close to Taz. The camera will suddenly shift to a wider angle without warning. This can be especially annoying when you are trying to jump from one place to another and suddenly the camera pulls back causing you to lose your concentration as well as Taz's footing.
That's all folks!
All in all "Taz Wanted" is an enjoyable game and not just for kids. Adults who grew up with Looney Tunes will find some nostalgia as well as some challenges as they navigate through the game. This is the game's biggest asset in trying to be a standout from the others in its class. The mere history and legacy that the Looney Tunes world and its characters encompass makes for an enjoyable ride. However, history and beauty can only take you so far. When it gets right down to it, the gameplay is also important, and that is where "Taz Wanted!" frustrates. We give Infogrames's "Taz Wanted" a 3 out of 5.
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