Looney Tunes is a cartoon that needs no introduction. From grandparents who watched the original shorts to the Space Jam generation and beyond, Bugs Bunny and his wacky squad of friends have brought hilarity to our TV screens for generations.
One of the most underappreciated mediums of Looney Tunes entertainment, however, is the numerous video games that have graced our consoles over the years. Sure, we’ve also had many games that managed to reach infamous levels of terrible, but today we’re looking at 10 of the best cartoon capers to hit our consoles.
10. Taz In Escape From Mars (Sega MegaDrive/Genesis)
Taz the Tasmanian Devil is a lovable character, regardless of where you find him. So it’s no surprise that video games featuring him are fun. In this 16-bit caper, we take on the role of Taz who has been imprisoned in a space zoo by Marvin the Martian. The plotline to the game sets a standard of ridiculous that can only mean one thing for the gameplay: sheer chaos. Taz can spin through crazy environments such as monster-filled space zoos, a mad scientist’s lab, and even a bullfighting ring.
Taz’s abilities are also ridiculous. He can eat bombs, turn supersized, breathe fire, and even trade brains with Gossamer the monster. Sure, there are some irritating quirks to this game that add to that 90’s difficulty, but they can be easily forgiven for the amount of charm and silliness on display.
The only absolute negative that could come from this gem? The fact that it reminds us that chocolate Taz bars no longer exist.
9. Looney Tunes Racing (PlayStation)
Cart racing games aren’t unique in themselves. However, they possess the perfect dynamic for showcasing what’s great about this franchise. Looney Tunes Racing channels everything that’s great about the classic cartoon and bundles it into a mayhem-filled joy ride. The game has a nice selection of characters to select; from the favourites like Bugs Bunny, newer characters like Lola, and obscure ones like Tweetie Pie’s owner, Granny. The stages are colourful and stay true to the original animation while adding in those typical cart racing tropes, like weapons and obstacles.
Don’t get me wrong, Looney Tunes Racing wouldn’t bode well if put up against the likes of Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing, but it’s worth playing on its own merit. Cart racing games might be a cash-grab most of the time, but Looney Tunes Racing suits the format and demonstrates how well cartoons can translate into game play mechanics.
Side note: Who’s granny exactly is Granny? Is it some sort of twisted gangster nickname? We may never know.
8. Looney Tunes: Space Race (Dreamcast, PlayStation 2)
Yep, it’s the sequel to Looney Tunes Racing, which means it shares a lot of the same qualities as its predecessor. This time, the toons race it out in a death sled environment that’s similar to the likes of Wipeout. This means that the racing itself is faster paced and even more manic than before.
There’s a real benefit to be had with the Dreamcast and PS2 hardware, as the cell-shaded style of the graphics is a great improvement on its 32-bit counterpart. It’s amazing how good this game can look when played through a clean video source, as the characters and environments really have that hand-drawn feel to them. The weapons in the game feel even wackier, perhaps due to the fast-paced action mixed in with dropping anvils on each other.
It’s a shame that this game has a lot less playable characters than the first, as it could have achieved a higher place on this list, but we can’t have it all.
7. Space Jam (PlayStation, Sega Saturn, DOS, MS-DOS)
Space Jam is an iconic ’90s flick that had most kids back then thinking it was an actual Michael Jordan biopic. While this might not be the case, it did do well enough to receive its own game on 90’s consoles and PC, which provide us with some much-needed monster sporting action.
This game feels similar to the likes of the Mutant League series on the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis, whilst actually handling similarly to NBA titles. The character roster is taken straight from the film, with the Toon Squad comprising of Bugs and friends, while the Mon-Stars feature monster-alien protagonists. Each character has their own stats and abilities which can help when choosing your own preferred play-style. The surprisingly normal basketball game play is broken up by mini-games, which can improve a character attributes on the court.
This game does well at being both a Space Jam homage and an actual basketball game, with the only disappointment being the fact there’s not enough Bill Murray.
6. Daffy Duck In Hollywood (Sega MegaDrive/Genesis)
It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about animal welfare, everyone enjoys seeing Daffy Duck being violently assaulted. This makes playing difficult titles like Daffy Duck In Hollywood more enjoyable than usual.
In this game, we take on the role of Daffy on his quest to recover Yosemite Sam’s movie awards from Hollywood sets. The gameplay is very reminiscent of games like Earthworm Jim, with run and (bubble)gun action and vertical platforming. This title is a great example of how sprite-based graphics can really shine when based on cartoons, with great animation and detailed characters.
The soundtrack to this game is also worth mentioning, as it stays true to the nature of Looney Tunes while showing off what the MegaDrive/Genesis sound chip is actually capable of. Unfortunately, this game only came out in Europe, Australia, and Brazil, so you’ll need to acquire a PAL console if you wish to play it.
5. Duck Dodgers Starring Daffy Duck (Nintendo 64)
The Nintendo 64 is renowned for its colourful, collectathon platformers that capture the essence of their characters and worlds perfectly. So it’s no surprise that Duck Dodgers is a well-matched Looney Tunes title for Nintendo’s classic system.
The plot sees Daffy Duck take on the role of Duck Dodgers, an obvious parody of Buck Rodgers, who has to stop Marvin the Martian from destroying the earth. The whole aesthetic of this game is similar to Banjo Kazooie; with puzzles to solve, platforms to traverse and shiny things to grab. The animation is also one of the highlights of this title, displaying the kind of cartoony violence we want to see Daffy subjected to. The level design is fun and vibrant, with each planet having its own theme, of which are all fictional of course (sorry Elon). We’re also treated to original voice acting and familiar characters like Yosemite Sam.
Overall, it’s the kind of platformer that you come to expect from the N64, accompanied by a vast amount of cartoon charm.
4. Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (PlayStation)
If you’ve ever wanted to see Bugs Bunny re-enact various episodes of Doctor Who, then Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time needs to go on your shopping list. As the title suggests, Bugs ends up accidentally hijacking a time machine, leaving him stranded in ‘no-where’. Luckily, a weirdo called Merlin lives in the void of time, who instructs us to traverse various points of time on a collectathon adventure for clocks and golden carrots.
The cut-scenes do a fantastic job of recreating classic Looney Tunes gags, with a lot of the one-liners included from the original cartoon. Each level has its own theme, from the Stone Age to the 1930’s, all with their own unique enemies and charming intro screen that emulates an old episode title card. The game also has players battling familiar characters like Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam, as well as revisiting levels to access new areas. The key is to collect enough clocks to progress through the game, a bit like collecting stars in Mario 64, which gives Bug’s kleptomania some sort of meaning.
Bugs Bunny: Lost In Time is a must play for both Looney Tunes fans and platformer lovers alike — providing you don’t have a hatred of carrots.
3. Bugs and Taz: Time Busters (PlayStation)
So, we’ve gathered that Bugs pretends he’s the Doctor in his spare time, so does that make Taz his Rose Tyler? Bugs and Taz: Time Busters has Bugs at it again with his time-travelling shenanigans, only this time he’s on a quest to find Daffy, who is lost in time with a gem from a time regulator machine. With Granny acting as our guide, Bugs is teamed up with the Tasmanian Devil in order to explore various time periods, just like in the previous game.
The ultimate goal of the game is to collect gears to repair the time regulator, alongside finding other lost characters and the time gem. This game feels a lot like Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time, only with refined graphics and the additional feature of hot-swapping between Bugs and Taz in order to solve puzzles. The addition of Taz helps keep the format fresh, with new abilities such as the classic spin attack and using bubble gum to float.
If you are a fan of silly 3D platformers, this is definitely one that you’ll want to get a hold of, even if it’s just to see Bugs and Taz belly dancing.
2. Tiny Toon Adventures (Nintendo Entertainment System)
The NES is the home to many renowned platformers; Super Mario, Mega Man, Adventure Island, and Bubble Bobble are but a few of the most notable ones. However, also amongst these classics is Tiny Toon Adventures, which is based on the animated series of the same name.
This game regarded as one of the best platformers on the original Nintendo console. Admittedly, it’s essentially a Super Mario Bros 3 clone, utilizing some of the best mechanics, while adding a few of its own. By collecting a specific item, you can switch between the characters of the Tiny Toons, which adds some variation to the gameplay.
For fans of Buster Bunny and his friends, this is definitely worth dusting off the old grey toaster for.
1. Sheep, Dog, and Wolf (PlayStation)
The original PlayStation is home to some of the most unique games in existence, and Sheep, Dog, and Wolf is a prime example of 32-bit genius. This title features Ralph Wolf, a character often mistaken for Wille Coyote, since he’s virtually identical, in a stealth puzzler that can be best described as Looney Toons meets Metal Gear Solid.
The premise of Sheep, Dog and Wolf revolves around Ralph Wolf’s classic shenanigans, stealing sheep from Sam the Sheepdog and subsequently getting bashed over the head as punishment… y’know, good old fashioned violence. The game’s introduction has Daffy Duck inform Ralph that he’s been selected to be on a TV game show, creatively titled “Who Wants to Be a Sheep Stealer”. The aim of the game? To do what you do best, all while solving puzzles and avoiding the gaze of your canine nemesis.
There’s something particularly amusing about robust stealth mechanics within a Looney Tunes game, with each level providing an appropriate amount of challenging aspects within a host of colourful environments. Instead of taking a linear approach, stages will have various mechanisms and sections that have to be interacted with in order to get sheep to the goal. There are even some variances in game play, such as chase segments with Roadrunner, which are sure to put a smile on even the most serious gamer’s faces.
There may be other Looney Tunes games out there, but this selection of cartoon capers is definitely a great place to start if you’re looking to add something wacky and colourful to your collection. Games of this style and substance are arguably a dying breed, so why not have a go at some of these for yourself, even just for the sake of revisiting the past.