IGN Review of Tom & Jerry Tales
Way back in the days before Grand Theft Auto or Mortal Kombat, kids had to get their fill of excessive violence from other places. Tom and Jerry cartoons, filled this need, showing acts of brutality and animal abuse that would have both PETA and Jack Thompson flipping out if they were made today. Now with a new generation comes a new Tom and Jerry cartoon, and with it a new Tom and Jerry game. Sensory Sweep has stuck in some fun nuggets of gameplay that are sure to please fans of the cartoon, but they'll have to sift through the litterbox of crap that is the rest of the game to find them.
Tom and Jerry Tales plays out like a string of episodes from the cartoon. Each room has a cutscene that sets up the chase and ultimately results in Tom getting his butt kicked. Much like the cartoon itself, there's isn't too much in the way of plot, but there doesn't need to be. This is Tom and Jerry folks! They're older than the grandparents of the target audience for the game. Players control Jerry in a variety of missions, with the intention of stealing all the cheese possible and getting Tom kicked out of the house. The snippets of story will be familiar to fans of the original shorts, and feature some of the other characters from the show, like Spike the dog, and Tom's lady cat friend. For the most part the models look nice, though Tom is a bit stiff. Everything about the game is very reminiscent of the cartoons, so it feels like you're in a house from the '40s.
The six rooms in the house are each a level, and each room has four different game modes: Normal, Timed, Speed, and Break mode. The Normal mode is where the cutscenes happen, and is where the main focus of the game is. Players have to steer Jerry through the room as he runs on a rail system, jumping over obstacles and collecting cheese. At various point, Jerry will encounter opportunities to make trouble for Tom, and gain some ground. Different commands will appear on the touch screen, such as tapping targets, rotating wheels, or scribbling in boxes. Think Shenmue's Quick Time Events, but with a mouse (or if you're more old-school, think Dragon's Lair). Quick reflexes result in a mini cutscene of Jerry getting the better of Tom, much in the same way he did in the cartoons, though it's a little toned down. Usually the mischievous mouse just breaks something. Failing the event still gives a cutscene, though one showing Jerry either passing by the area or messing up. Either way the pace of the level isn't broken, and both scenes lead right back into the level. The Touch Time events are the best part of the game, and the mode is a fun little homage to the animated shorts.
In order to unlock the normal mode, players must get a gold ranking one one of the other three modes. In Timed mode, Jerry runs a footrace around the room, dodging obstacles that will slow him down. In Speed mode, Jerry flies around on a jetpack, and players must guide him through colored rings to collect points. Break mode has Jerry throwing cheese at fragile objects all over the house by tapping on the touch screen. All three modes are the same on rails design as in Normal mode. Players can move Jerry left and right and make him jump. None of these modes are very fun, and, with the exception of Break mode, none of them really fit for a Tom and Jerry game. A mouse with a jetpack is great, but in the context of the rest of the game, it seems very out of place. Even overlooking that, it's a boring and sometimes frustrating experience. The controls are slow and sometimes unresponsive, making it hard to beat levels that require nearly perfect runs. The Break mode, while somewhat fun, suffers from some wonky touch screen controls. Cheese doesn't always fly where it's supposed to. All three of these modes are unforgiving, forcing players to try them again and again until they can pass with a gold medal. Luckily, players only have to pass one of them before they can get to the Normal mode.
Even with the gameplay stretched out with the other three modes, Tom and Jerry Tales takes about an hour to beat, two hours tops for the younger audience (and that assumes they don't get fed up with the annoying filler levels). That is atrociously short. Players can go back and play the other modes, and there are items to be found in every level that adds d?cor to Jerry's mouse hole abode. There are also upgrade points, which can be used to make Jerry's furniture a little bit nicer. Still, the prospect of getting to upgrade the teacup bathtub to a martini glass wasn't enough to keep me riveted.
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