IGN Review of Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal
As a kid, I spent my Saturday mornings watching Looney Tunes. When it came time for the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner segments, my sister would leave the room, no doubt bored with the hopelessness of their ever-cycling violent encounters. I, however, loved every minute of it.
My most sincere wish at the age of 10 was that I would somehow come into possession of an ACME catalog, from which I would order all manner of explosives, booby traps, surveillance gear and disguises. Sadly, such a windfall never came to pass, and I grew up jaded and cynical, my face permanently twisted in a hateful snarl.
Warner Bros. must be aware of the irresistible pull the Looney Tunes and ACME names exert, because they slapped both on the box of their latest licensed game. With Looney Tunes: ACME Arsenal, Warner would seem to be offering gamers and cartoon fans the perfect opportunity to live out their dream of using their favorite Looney Tunes characters to deploy crate after zany crate of outrageous weapons and devices. Instead, Warner and developer Red Tribe delivered a mediocre, derivative 3D platformer that offers little more than a gimmick, some mildly amusing writing and a few hours of mindless brawling.
I played through Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal on the Xbox 360 and then tried the PS2 and Wii versions. The PS2 game looks and plays almost exactly the same as the 360 version, and the camera controls are actually somewhat better.
The premise of Looney Tunes: ACME Arsenal is that the evil scientist Dr. Frankenbeans, his hatred for Bugs and friends having reached the boiling point, has decided to send an army of killer robots after their ancestors.
Your job is to rescue your long-lost relatives and stop the evil Dr. by battling your way through said robots in Egypt, Camelot, etc., while collecting coins and glowing green tubes of Illudium Q-37, which are scattered throughout the game. The latter upgrades your melee weapon (Bugs' guitar, Marvin the Martian's swords, Foghorn Leghorn's fists), and the former lets you add to your "arsenal" via weapon-vending machines.
Unfortunately, that arsenal is pretty darn thin. Aside from a spring-loaded boxing glove gun and a bear-trap-launching gun, most of the weapons in AA are disappointingly standard (freeze gun, shotgun, grenade launcher, etc.) and they're just not that fun to use. Not that it matters much. The targeting system is so clunky and cumbersome that I found myself giving up on the weapons and instead using standard melee attacks to complete most of every level - not a good sign for a game with "arsenal" in the title.
When you're not busy trying in vain to have fun with the weapons in AA, you'll probably find yourself battling the game's erratic camera, which can make some of AA's jumping puzzles incredibly maddening - not for their inherent difficulty but because you'll find yourself being forced to leap blindly at times, often to your death.
But death is a relative term in AA. If you fall off a cliff or lose all your health to enemy blows, you can take control of your computer-chosen secondary character until they, too, bite it. At that point, the game will reload you at your last checkpoint (they're liberally spread throughout the game). I never lost more than five minutes of ground in the handful of times I died playing AA (usually from falling off a cliff while wrestling with the camera controls).
Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal has some major problems, but it also suffers from a host of minor issues that have a cumulatively bad effect on the overall game experience. There are glitches aplenty: invisible obstacles, mysterious damage-inflicting pixels, inexplicable level endings and my personal favorite, the Infinitely Respawning Shotgun. Long story.
And I'm not sure I can adequately describe the dismay I felt the first time I saw Bugs declare "I just love feedin' time!" and take a gulp from a box of raisins emblazoned with a Sun-Maid logo. Putting a branded animation into the game is a step too far. Was the budget of this game so astronomically high that WB had to pimp Bugs out to a raisin company to ship the game on time? Thaths dethpicable.
AA also includes a couple racing levels, and they are virtually useless. The controls are unintuitive, and the racetrack designs are nonsensical. It's possible that Red tribe realized this and made them the only optional levels in the entire game. You can finish the game without trying them, but to get the game completion achievement you'll have to grit your teeth and plow through these stinkers.
If you're hoping AA makes up for its bland story mode with a unique, engaging multiplayer mode, you're out of luck, doc. You're stuck with a single, bare-bones deathmatch option that pits two players against one another in a handful of maps sprinkled with weapons from the game. There are no rounds, no leaderboards and no way to keep track of who is winning while the match is in session. But it doesn't really matter, because everybody loses in Looney Tunes: ACME Arsenal multiplayer.
Should you decide to back out of either the single-player or the multiplayer mode and pop back in, have fun re-inputting your personal settings, which, for some mind-boggling reason, the game does not save. Under the "Options" section in the game's manual, the text urges you to "make the game your personal cartoon!" Awesome. Because my idea of a personal cartoon is inverting my Y axis over and over and over again.
Looney Tunes: ACME Arsenal is clearly a game made for the younger set, and it was released as a budget title. Children who love Looney Tunes and just want to goof around with Bugs and the gang could probably do worse than this game, but they deserve a lot better. The characters look fairly good, and most of the voice acting is well-done. Some of the writing is even funny in an appropriately Saturday-morning-cartoon sort of way.
But the best part of Looney Tunes: ACME Arsenal is the closing credits, which show an animated Daffy Duck in a live-action recording studio voicing outtakes from the game dialogue. It's a quippy, genuine segment that actually manages to capture the flavor of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. It's a shame the game itself failed so miserably to achieve that goal.
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