There’s a reason people are getting excited for the new Mickey game. Mickey Mouse, by and large, has a heritage of pretty good videogames, and Disney has respected the videogame medium (and their characters) enough to roll up their sleeves and make the games themselves. When was the last time you saw Mickey Mouse in a cartoon or film? Never, right? But you *have* seen him in Kingdom Hearts.
Things have changed, Warner Bros. Videogames don’t play second fiddle anymore, and you failed to see it coming. You didn’t respect the medium or your characters enough to treat a videogame as anything more than just another piece of merchandise. And so now we have abominations like Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage and Looney Tunes B-Ball to contend with.
Being the great house of animation that you once were, you *could* have sat down with this new-fangled ‘computer game’ thang and tried to work it all out. Of all the studios, you could have created the most beautifully fluid animated works of the 2-D gaming era. Instead you commissioned hacks like Sunsoft and Acclaim to butcher your legacy in no time at all.
Take Looney Tunes B-Ball for instance. This could have been the Mario Kart of basketball games. What we have instead is a dull, drab, street b-ball game with Looney Tunes characters pasted in. I could have just glued their heads to paddle-pop sticks and it would have been more enjoyable. Nay, this could have been better than Mario Kart and NBA Jam. We expect madness from Bugs and Daffy, and we sure as hell expect more than stiff pie-throwing animations. Slapstick humour is more contextual in a Looney Tunes game than it will ever be in Mario or the NBA – neither of them are funny in their own right – they were merely placed in humorous situations. Conversely, here I find America’s funniest cartoon characters placed in a decidedly unfunny situation. You have to collect gems to purchase powerups during play of the ball fer cryin’ out loud (and that’s before you can even use them)! Why not just cut out the middle men and have them collect the powerups direct instead? And why not eliminate the need for another button press, and have the powerups kick in immediately upon pickup? It makes sense in a stupid NBA Jam kinda way.
Do you think maybe you could have spared a comedy writer and an animator or two to help out with the game? What’s that, they were all busy working on Space Jam? Wait a minute, SPACE JAM? Isn’t that that movie where the LOONEY TUNES play BASKETBALL in OUTER SPACE?! What did you do, tell the guys at Scultpured Software that you were *maybe* thinking of doing a Looney Tunes cartoon where they play basketball? You didn’t even tell them about Space Jam – did you? Did you ever consider that maybe you could have developed the game in tandem with the film, take a little more time to make the game actually good; add in a few more characters like, I don’t know, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweetie Pie, Speedy Gonzales, Pepe Le Pew, Road Runner, Porky Pig, MICHAEL JORDAN AND BILL MURRAY? Was da scwipt to Space Jam weally so sacwed dat you couldn’t share da wuv wid da iddy-biddy game makers?
The same team ended up doing the Space Jam movie tie-in anyway! Instead of rushing two mediocre games out the door, you could have commissioned the New Greatest Basketball Game on the Planet. But you didn’t. You were happy to pump out just another piece of merchandise. And here we are, years later, not giving a damn about your characters or anything they appear in.
There’s a reason the world waits with bated breath for Epic Mickey and not Epic Bugs:
You missed the boat, Bugs. You could have been ahead of the curve, but you got sloppy. Now all we have to remember you by is a collection of crappy videogames.