TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Looney Tunes B-Ball’ is a short slam dunk for sports and cartoon fans
In the gaming industry, even today, there are no guarantees in what works and what doesn’t for consumers. In the 1980s and ‘90s, taking an established license and putting it in the video game world was not an instant recipe for success. Taking this a step further, moving the license into previously uncharted territory was an even greater risk. However, those few times when lightning was caught in a bottle are the most memorable, and today we finish up the month by taking a look at one of those rare moments.
This week on Turn to Channel 3, we hum some “Merrie Melodies” as the Looney Tunes take to the basketball court in “Looney Tunes B-Ball” on the Super Nintendo!
“Looney Tunes B-Ball” (SNES)
This isn’t a game that has the best soundtrack by any means, which isn’t to say it is awful – just pretty average at best. Despite this, it meshes well with the character voiceovers and sound effects, which are quite good, and truly capture that cartoon flavor. There’s something gratifying about Bugs Bunny hitting someone with a cream pie and then saying, “Ain’t I a stinker?” before draining a three pointer that you don’t find on other sports games. In essence, you are in a cartoon that is, of course, within a two-on-two game of hoops.
You’d think with characters this bright and full of color would be distracting to the eye within the more down-to-earth colors of a basketball court, but that never seemed to happen for me. I actually felt that, with these characters and the absence of the same color uniforms you would see in “NBA Jam,” it was far easier to focus and enjoy the game. Do I wish they were a bit more creative with the court choices instead of them all being the same? Yes, of course. At the same time, we came here for the characters as much as the sport (and, in some cases, even more so), and they all look great here.
While simple moves like using dynamite or a cream pie don’t showcase much difference in character actions, their special moves clearly do, so whether you’re Marvin the Martian using your ray gun or Yosemite Sam dunking the ball (and yourself) through the hoop, guns blazing, there’s something there for every fan of the Looney Tunes.
The issue I have with this game, after all these years, is not that the game isn’t fun. It definitely fits right in with the “NBA Jam” games, as well as other sports games that ditch the traditional number of players for a more arcade feel. My issue is that the game just doesn’t have enough options to keep you busy for a long time. There are no boss teams, no storylines, and with only the ability to either play an exhibition game or hit the tournament mode, with a limited roster, this can get real familiar and repetitive very quickly.
What is positively shocking about this game, however, is that there is some strategy involved in choosing your two characters, depending on how you play the game. Some characters, like Marvin the Martian, are better at three pointers than driving to the hoop, while others, like Elmer Fudd, are far greater on the defensive side of the ball. I always found the fact that they didn’t give each character the same skill set refreshing.
“Looney Tunes B-Ball” isn’t going to break the bank for you to get a copy of it, but I have noticed its price continuing to climb each year. You’d be looking at around $20 or so for a copy of your own, and whether or not you should have one is based solely on the nostalgia factor. If you have fond memories of this game then, yes, by all means snag one. However, if you feel that there are better games overall on the SNES for that price tag (and there are), then maybe it’d be best to sit this game out. Still, a game about pickup games of hoops between cartoons is a great pick-up-and-play game for the SNES – just don’t expect to be entertained for long.
Another month of games is in the books! Join me next month as I dedicate June to one of the more forgotten consoles in gaming history – the Sega Saturn!
Until then, there’s nothing like a cool, refreshing drink and your controller of choice in your hands, so game on!