Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!

#138 – Tiny Toon Adventures

Become a little looney by playing this fun platformer.

They look so happy!

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 10/28/19 – 10/30/19
Difficulty: 6/10
My Difficulty: 5/10
My Video: Tiny Toon Adventures Longplay

As a kid I watched a lot of TV.  We had cable growing up and we were a Nickelodeon family for the most part.  I only got into some of the series that were played on local TV.  I didn’t really watch the Disney afternoon stuff, shows like DuckTales or Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers or TaleSpin.  My interest more switched to Nicktoons once they got going in the early 90s.  Now I did watch a bunch of Tiny Toon Adventures, but despite that, I didn’t own or play the NES game.  I played a lot of Buster Busts Loose on the SNES, just not the NES entries.  Tiny Toon Adventures on NES is one of the games that escaped my childhood for reasons unknown, which is a shame because this platformer is really fun.

The Tiny Toon Adventures cartoon was created by Tom Ruegger.  Both Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment collaborated on the show.  Amblin Entertainment was founded by Steven Spielberg, so that’s why you often see “Steven Spielberg Presents” on the show’s title screen.  The show ran for 3 seasons and 98 episodes between September 1990 and December 1992.  The first two seasons were in syndication and the third and final season aired on Fox.  There were also three specials produced.  The show eventually stopped production to make way for Animaniacs, however re-runs continued through syndication regularly through around 2005.  The show was also a critical success, winning 7 daytime Emmy awards.

There are about 20 or so Tiny Toon Adventures video games released between 1991 and 2002.  Konami developed all of the Tiny Toon games except for one between 1991 and 1994.  (They published the other one.)  Konami was one of the most prolific developers in both quality and quantity, so this series was in good hands.  There were three NES Tiny Toon Adventures games: Tiny Toon Adventures, Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble in Wackyland, and Tiny Toon Adventures Cartoon Workshop.  Tiny Toon Adventures released in both North America and Japan in December 1991, while the European release was delayed until October 1992.  It was the first console game based on Tiny Toon Adventures.

High jumps are shocking.

The story is your simple guy kidnaps girl plot.  Montana Max, one of the villains of the show, is upset because Buster Bunny wins the award for Best Student Film at the Acme Acres Animation Festival.  So, in a fit of jealous rage, Montana Max has Babs Bunny kidnapped while on her way over to Buster’s house to celebrate his win.  Now, Babs and Buster are not related, just friends, so this particular version of this old story trope seems extremely lazy to me.  Anyway, Buster Bunny, along with help from Plucky Duck, Dizzy Devil, and Furrball, set out on a journey to save Babs.  There are six stages in this game you will have to complete to beat the game.

Tiny Toon Adventures is a platformer with standard controls.  Use the D-pad to walk around Left or Right.  The A button is for jumping, and if you hold A you get a big height boost after bouncing off an enemy.  You duck by holding Down.  The B button is mostly used for running when it is held down.  While running, press Down to do a slide maneuver.  There are also swimming controls.  Tap the A button to rise in the water and hold Up and press A to jump out of the water.  You can also shoot whirlpools underwater with the B button to fend off underwater enemies.

There are a few items that will help Buster and his friends.  Carrots are the standard collectible in this game.  There’s a counter for them on-screen and you can hold up to 99 of them.  Other items are found in balloons that appear periodically.  Leap into the balloon to pop it and reveal the item inside.  The most common item is the Toon-a-round, a ball with a star shape on it.  Collect this to change characters to either your designated partner or back to Buster.  Hearts give you an additional hit point from the bad guys.  Collecting a second heart while already having one gives you an extra life instead.  There is also a stopwatch that freezes the enemies temporarily.

Plucky can fall slowly and swim well.

At the start of each stage, you speak with Shirley the Loon who helps you pick your partner for the upcoming stage.  Sometimes, if you wait long enough, Shirley will recommend the best character to pick for the upcoming stage.  Each character plays similarly to Buster with some additional moves.  Plucky Duck can glide in the air by tapping A repeatedly. He is also a more effective swimmer than the others.  Dizzy Devil cannot slide, but he has a special spin attack when B is pressed.  There is a little meter that ticks down while spinning and you have to let the meter recharge before performing another spin attack.  Furrball can climb walls.  Push into the wall to grab on, then press A to hop up the wall.  Press the opposite direction and jump to leap away from the wall.

Hamton the Pig plays a useful role in this game.  Instead of being a playable character, he hangs out in a shop of sorts.  In some stages you will find a door to a room.  Go inside to pay a visit to Hamton.  He will exchange every 30 carrots into an extra life.  These are optional rooms of course but every little bit helps!

Most of the game’s stages have a similar flow.  Most often there are three sub-levels per stage.  Completing a sub-level gives you a score bonus for any leftover time.  The second level in the stage ends with an encounter with Elmira.  Just like in the cartoon, she loves to give our heroes a squeeze.  When that happens, however, you get sent back to the start of the entire stage.  You need to avoid her and wait it out until the exit door appears.  The third sub-level culminates in a boss fight.  Each of the defeated bosses drops a key that you will use to pass through Montana’s Max’s mansion.  This level structure lasts for most of the game before changing it up at the end.

Dizzy can bust through some walls with ease.

This was my second time playing through Tiny Toon Adventures.  I beat the game with a friend a few years ago, just passing the controller back and forth.  I think it took us a couple of hours to get to the end.  This was my first time playing solo.  This game is fairly common and costs around $10 for a loose cart.

My playthrough of this game was pretty standard.  For my characters, I went with Shirley’s suggestions of Plucky in World 2, Dizzy in World 3, and Furrball in World 4.  In the other levels I picked Plucky because I found slow falling the most helpful ability.  Furrball is probably the best choice in the final stage, though I went with Plucky and stayed as Buster for the entire level.  The first time I sat down to play it I ended up finishing the game in about an hour.  A couple days later I recorded my longplay.  I did end up restarting once during recording because for some dumb reason I kept dying in the first stage.  When I try to run through this game quickly, I make lots of mistakes.  I spend most of my time just walking, which works because the timer isn’t an issue and I gain some leeway to react to enemies and traps.  I had a few deaths here and there, but I didn’t have any trouble clearing the game both times.  I even triggered the optional boss fight with Duck Vader in my video.  If you beat him, he drops a big heart worth three extra lives.  I didn’t need any more lives but I was happy to just show off and win that fight.

Climbing walls to avoid Elmira is recommended.

This time I am not too confident in my difficulty assessment.  I felt like I came into this game with fresh eyes as my past experience with the game was long enough ago that it didn’t make a difference.  The difficulty is kind of all over the place, with some surprisingly tricky spots.  Some of the enemy patterns and approaches can be tricky.  You only can take one hit and that’s only if you get the heart pickup.  Avoiding Elmira is harder in the earlier stages than the later stages because they slowly turn into platforming challenges rather than avoidance challenges.  Lives are fairly generous and you get I think four continues.  Bosses are relatively simple though the last two fights got pretty tough sometimes.  The final stage is definitely the hardest one, they got that part right.  Smart character selection can mitigate some of these issues.  I found the game easy and originally decided to put this right at average difficulty.  After some more thought, I bumped it up from 5 to 6.  I’m not sure which is better but close to average difficulty seems right to me.

Tiny Toon Adventures is a fun platformer and a great debut for these characters in a video game.  The graphics are bright and colorful with large, detailed character sprites and portraits.  Konami really nailed the look of these characters under NES limitations.  The music is very good, including an excellent rendition of the theme song.  The controls work very well and I like the variety of moves you get with the selectable characters.  Gameplay is standard hop-and-bop platformer fare, but done well with a few neat ideas mixed in.  There are only a couple of things about the game I don’t like.  First, I feel the difficulty curve is uneven.  Second, the running speed seems pretty fast.  I’m good at platformers but I had trouble going quickly through this game.  These are nitpicky items however.  This is a well-made game that is fun to play, even if the source material doesn’t interest you.

#138 – Tiny Toon Adventures

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comment : 1
  1. Hong Il Yoo

    I can’t put my finger on why but this game has been my nemesis since 1991. I find Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden much easier.

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