Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (Genesis)

We’re back yet again with another Looney Tunes video game. I can’t really blame game companies for making so many different games for the franchise. There are just so many fun characters to play as, and just as many fun villains to be fighting against. Not only that, but thanks to the shared universe you could have any combination of the characters show up in just about any game. There is however one odd pair in the whole Looney Tunes universe, even compared to all the other odd characters. This pair rarely interacts with the rest of the characters and instead is mostly off doing their own thing out in the desert. I’m of course talking of the Speedy Road Runner, and the self proclaimed “Super Genius” Wile E. Coyote.

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Honestly, this pair feels like they would work so perfectly together in a video game. Playing as Wile E. Coyote you get to experience all his hardships while trying to catch the Road Runner. You’ll get to use all his different Acme products, and hopefully try to avoid having them backfire on you. Then there’s the option of playing as the Road Runner, speeding away at the last second and watching as Wile E. Coyote’s plans fall apart. That’s exactly the type of game we’re going to be looking at today, because it just so happens Desert Demolition lets you play through the entire game as either one of the characters. So let’s open up those Acme product catalogues and head out to the desert to see what trouble we can get into.

Gameplay (Wile E. Coyote)

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Playing as Wile E. Coyote, the game drops you right in the middle of the desert, exactly as you’d probably expect. Of course, you’ll be chasing after the Road Runner, and due to its speed and maneuverability, you’ll more often than not fail to capture it.

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However, even when you do manage to capture the speedy bird, your reward is lackluster to say the least. Rather than being some great victory for the coyote, the Road Runner simply explodes into a cloud of bonus points and extra time.

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Even if catching the Road Runner isn’t a hugely important facet of the game, getting to use all the different Acme products is still quite fun. Of course this first level starts you out with one of the most recognizable of the coyote’s toys, the rocket skates. These babies send you flying through the desert just as quickly and just as uncontrollable as you would expect them to, and they are just a joy to play with.

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Since the main goal of the game isn’t actually to catch the Road Runner, you’re only real goal boils down to simply reaching the exit at the end of the stage. In itself this is a very easy feat to accomplish, simply continue to the right while avoiding all the random dangers that fill each stage.

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As you play, you’ll constantly be changing locations between levels. One level you’ll be out in the desert where we started, the next you’ll be chasing the Road Runner through a small town. All the while you’ll be finding new inventions to help you along the way, like the helmet unicycle thing. Honestly, who would ever think that was a good idea?

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Beyond the town, you’ll chase the Road Runner across a moving train full of dangers. There’s no fear of falling off the side of the train, but you might just accidentally blow yourself up with one of the many explosive barrels sitting around.

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From there, the pair finds their way into an old abandoned mine. This level feels a bit out of place for me. I can’t think of a single time when they were ever in an old mine. The coyote also seems especially uncomfortable trying to use that jackhammer to break apart the rocks.

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He seems a bit more comfortable outside on the cliff sides. Here he can happily fly around in another of his more famous acme products, the wing suit. If only wing suits worked as well in real life as they do for the coyote. Just be careful or you might find yourself falling painfully back down to earth.

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Through our travels we’ve been slowly but surely making our way straight towards the Acme factory. Inside, the Road Runner has quite the nasty treat in store for us. He has hijacked one of the construction vehicles in the factory and is threatening to run poor Wile E over.

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Thankfully, safety has clearly never been a top priority for the Acme Company. As such they have explosive barrels already lined up and ready to be dropped at the flip of a switch. Drop a few bombs on the Road Runner’s vehicle and it will soon be disabled for good.

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For stopping the Road Runner, and presumably for using so many of their products, Wile E. Coyote is invited to an Acme Corporation staff meeting where he is awarded the Customer of the Year Award. Congratulations Wile E., you’ve won your award and beaten the game.

Gameplay (Road Runner)

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Playing as the Road Runner is slightly different than it is for the coyote. For starters, you’re now the prey instead of the hunter, so there actually is an enemy this time around to be concerned with. Also, as the Road Runner, most of the gameplay will be spent simply speeding through the levels as fast as you can since there’s no point in sightseeing with Wile E. hot on your tail.

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While you do play through the same levels as before, they appear to have been altered slightly to make them more accessible to the Road Runner. For example, many of the levels have speed boosts which allow the Road Runner to run up walls and even upside down through giant loops.

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Playing as the Road Runner does feel significantly harder than playing as the coyote. This is due in no small part to the Wile E’s apparent ability to teleport around the stage. All the Acme crates that you used to be able to jump into are now potential traps hiding a coyote ready to jump out at you.

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While that change should seem pretty obvious, there is one other change that makes playing as the Road Runner harder, and that is in regard to restoring your health. As the coyote you could simply collect a bottle of water and you’d be healthy again. As the Road Runner however it’s a bit trickier. You need to find one of the random piles of bird seed which are both harder to spot and seemingly less common. Then you have to actually stop and eat it as opposed to simply collecting it.

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Death Count: 2

Even with this added difficulty, the game as a whole is still fairly easy. Before long you’ll be speeding across the train. Then you’ll be navigating your way through the abandoned mine. Eventually you’ll be running up walls in the canyon, and finally find your way straight into the Acme Corporation factory.

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Inside is virtually the same boss battle as when you played as Wile E. Coyote, just with the roles reversed. This time Wile E. is driving the truck while you as the Road Runner drop bombs on him. The same basic strategy still applies though. Pull the levers to drop the bombs on the truck, and eventually the truck will break.

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Once again, completion of the game will bring you into the Acme Corporation board meeting. However, in a twist I never expected, the Road Runner is not awarded “Customer of the Year” like Wile E. was. Instead it’s reveled that the Road Runner is actually the Acme Corporation President. This revelation explains a lot about why the inventions never work as intended. Unfortunately this news was too much for Poor Wile E. Coyote, and he opts to jump out the window to his death.

Verdict

Gameplay – 7 / 10

The gameplay can be summed up pretty easily as “Fun but short”. Playing as Wile E. Coyote is exactly the fun you would expect. You get to use a variety of very memorable Acme Products in your quest to catch the Road Runner. Unfortunately, Catching the Road Runner in and of itself isn’t much of an accomplishment. This I felt was a real shame since that was the whole point of the cartoons. Also with only a small handful of levels and a very tight time limit, there isn’t a whole lot to do in the game. That’s made even more obvious when you play as the Road Runner. You speed through the levels so fast you don’t really get to see anything.

Graphics – 7 / 10

Graphically I’m a bit torn with this game. Both the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are animated perfectly. You can tell the artists really studied the cartoons to get the mannerisms just right for all their actions. The environments as well were well animated in the style of the show. However they made a lot of odd shading choices. Perhaps it looked better back on the old tube TVs where the colors would blend together. But on a modern system where you can see ever pixel clearly, you notice that everything have a distinct striped pattern to it which I feel takes away from the appeal of the graphics, if only slightly.

Audio – 5 / 10

The audio in the game is ok, but it suffers from a quirk seemingly all Looney Tunes games have, that being that the music is directly related to your actions. When you’re standing still, the game is virtually silent. That’s not much of a problem since you shouldn’t be just standing around,but even when walking it’s hard to call the audio “background music”. It’s really more like white noise. Granted the audio fits with the action on screen, but the lack of a good soundtrack is definitely missed.

Story – N/A

I’m giving the game a pass for not having a story, simply because the shows never really had a story either. As Wile E. Coyote, you want to catch the Road Runner so you can eat it. As the Road Runner, you want simply not to be eaten. There never really was much else to know about what was going on.

Total Playtime – 0h 34m (Combined Time)

Even with two characters to play as, the whole game barely breaks a half hour. Wile E. Coyote’s gameplay took a little bit longer, maybe 20 of the 34 minutes, but ultimately neither was very long. It would have been fun to explore more since the levels are fairly expansive. However the ticking clock at the bottom of the screen makes that difficult.

Total Deaths – 2 Deaths (Both as the Road Runner)

The game as a whole is by no means a hard game. Playing as the Coyote I didn’t die a single time. Playing as the Road Runner is somewhat harder, but it’s still not a huge challenge. There are options to make the game harder or easier, but these changes don’t amount to much. They make the opponent AI a little smarter or dumber respectively, and maybe change some of the time limits. But the levels themselves don’t change any.

Overall Score – 6.5 / 10

I have always liked this game, ever since I was a kid. The gameplay for the most part is fun, and the game’s only real fault is being too short. I would however like to point out the difficulty involved with the final boss. Like the rest of the game, it’s not overly difficult, there’s just no build up to it. Most games would spend the levels training you so you know what to do by the time you reach the boss. This game however just throws you in the middle of it and wishes you the best. Had I not played this game numerous times as a child, I could imagine not having a clue what to do at the end. But that has never stopped me from greatly enjoying the game. Obviously playing as Wile E. Coyote is significantly more fun than playing as the Road Runner. Just that thrill of getting to play with all the different Acme Products you remembered seeing from the show and hoping you can handle them better than Wile E. ever could. Honestly if you’re a fan of the show, you should really check the game out. It’s very short, but it’s also a lot of fun.

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Bye bye Wile E Coyote. You will be missed!

 

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