If you’ve read some of my other Looney Tunes articles, you might already know that Taz is my favorite of the bunch. You might also know that growing up I owned a Sega Genesis and not a SNES. Naturally I owned Taz-Mania for the Genesis and it was one of my favorite games. Admittedly it wasn’t a great game, just a fairly generic platformer, but I loved it because you got to play as Taz. I didn’t recognize most of the other characters and enemies since it was based on the show, and I could rarely remember when it was on, but that’s ok, I loved it all the same.
You might have noticed by now that I’ve decided not to play the Genesis version and instead play the SNES version today, and here’s why. While the cross platform games are usually the same game, just with minor adjustments to accommodate the system, I’ve heard the SNES version of Taz-Mania is actually a completely different game. I’ve tried to avoid any details beyond that fact so I can go into this game blind. But like I already said, the Genesis game wasn’t great, so I’m hoping this one is better. So let’s see how well they did with my favorite Looney Tunes character.
For starters, the game is completely different than the genesis version. The genesis version was a 2D platformer staring Taz with the simple goal of making it to the end of the stage. The SNES version however is more of a 3D racing game similar to Rad Racers or Outrun. However, calling it a racer isn’t exactly correct. Racing games usually have other racers, rankings, checkpoints, laps, and various other details that come with the whole racing package. Taz-Mania for the SNES has none of these things. So instead I feel it more proper to call it a running simulator, since all you’re doing is running around in a loop until time runs out.
As for the actual objective of the game, your goal while running around the track is to catch several little yellow Kiwi birds that are also running around the track for some reason. It’s a simple enough concept, but it is incredibly difficult to pull off. The Kiwis move very randomly, jumping over Taz, speeding off, or occasionally turning around all together. Combine that with Taz’s T-Rex like reach, and the task can be downright impossible.
In addition to the Kiwi, the road is also full of a wide range of obstacles for Taz to avoid. The most common and annoying obstacles are probably the various vehicles sharing the road with Taz which will flatten him like a pancake. There are also trucks you have to avoid when crossing the street at the various intersections, or they will also be more than happy to hit and run our Tasmanian friend.
Beyond the bad drivers, there is also a pterodactyl which will pick Taz up and bring him back to the starting point, and thus further away from the Kiwis you where trying to catch. Thankfully you can wiggle free from the winged beast to minimize the damage. Let’s hope you do, because if you get pulled too far back, you might just encounter a female Tasmanian Devil which seems to be madly in love with Taz. Getting caught by her is an instant game over and you’ll have to start the whole level over.
There are also the environmental hazards to worry about. In typical fashion, Taz can easily run into any of the trees and signs that line the side of the road. Hitting any of these, even at low speed, will cause Taz to compress into an accordion in true cartoon fashion. While the collision is bad enough at slowing you down, what I found truly annoying was the fact that the accordion reaction wasn’t a simple animation, you actually have to control Taz and make him bounce up and down like an accordion before the effect will wear off and you are able to get back to the road.
On top of that, even the camera is fighting against you. It simply follows behind Taz as he runs, which is basic enough for a game like this. However, the draw distance is terrible. You have almost no time to react to anything coming at you which resulted in me being hit by nearly every car and bus coming at me. There are also times when you run up hills which causes the screen to go almost completely blank. Even if the draw distance was better, you still wouldn’t be able to see anything coming at you, and again I usually got hit by a car I couldn’t see coming at these points.
Not everything on the road is trying to kill you. Occasionally Digeri Dingo will ride up next to you on his motorcycle and offer you a package from Acme. Sometimes it’s a simple bone, other times it’s a piece of meat which will heal Taz right up. However, the contents are random and not always so nice. For example, you could potentially get a stick of dynamite or quite simple a punch in the face from an extending boxing glove. So maybe I was a little quick to claim not everything is trying to kill you.
If by some chance you happen to catch the allotted number of Kiwi before time runs out, you will have successfully filled Taz up. Now stuffed with food, he will fall asleep right there on the road. However, since Taz generally swallows his food rather than chewing it, all the creatures he managed to eat will simply escape from his stomach as he sleeps. With his belly once again empty, Taz needs to find more food, and so the game continues on the next level with the same gameplay and a few new obstacles thrown at you. And you repeat this over and over and over again.
Price – $5.00
I actually bought this on e-bay as a bundle with the Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions game I reviewed already for $15.00 after shipping. Now that I’ve played both of them, I think I was horribly ripped off.
Play Again? – Probably Not
This game simply wasn’t very much fun. I was raging most of the time I was playing and staring at the clock waiting for my 30 minutes to be up.
Total Deaths – 4 Deaths
You actually do get a decent amount of time per level, and there are ways to get more time like eating the red birds that occasionally fly by you. But you only have a few lives and no continue, so I doubt I would ever manage to beat it normally
Fun Rating – 2 / 10
Overall, this game simply isn’t much fun to play. The concept is too simple, and yet the application was surprisingly horrible. The Kiwis were such small, fast targets that is was nearly impossible for Taz to catch them. The grabbing mechanic was just so imprecise and I usually felt I grabbed the kiwi out of pure luck rather than any skill. Other times I wasn’t sure if I grabbed them at all because again, they are such small fast targets they could easily slip away in the same time it takes to register eating them. Then there were annoyances like Taz not automatically recovering after taking damage. I have never before seen a game that would let me stay down forever unless I picked myself back up. Not only that, but once you recover, even touching the obstacle at no speed at all will still result in a body crushing collision. Tack on the crappy draw distance, and occasionally frustrating camera and you’re left with a game that simply isn’t any fun at all. I also want to note that you have to hold the up button the whole time to make him run. After a while that started hurting my finger since you’re still trying to turn left and right while keeping your forward momentum. Bottom line, avoid this game. It wasn’t any fun at all to play, and even with Taz as the main character I somewhat regret buying it. The genesis version might not have been great, but I’m glad I grew up playing it instead of this. I’ll have to review that game as well at some point just to show you SNES owners what you were missing.
Oh Taz… someday i’ll find a good game with you in it.
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