You may recall that earlier this year I reviewed Animaniacs: Lights, Camera, Action
a craptacular DS game from Ignition and Warthog. That title had little
to no redeeming value (although its box makes a nice coaster), so I
expected the GameCube Animaniacs outing to be comparable to eating
shards of hot glass. After all, Edgar Hunt
is from the exact
same developers, how could it possibly be good? Well, back up that semi
full of humble pie, because I was caught completely off guard by this
game. Warthog managed to do the Animaniacs franchise right this time.
I’ll start by saying that there’s nothing spectacular about this game.
It is the kind of adventure-platformer we’ve lived with since Mario
made his 3D debut back in 1996. It is simply so refreshing to see such
a competent use of the medium, and all with respect paid to the subject
material. Warthog actually enlisted the voice talent from the show, and
the writing isn’t half bad either. Each of the three title characters,
Yakko, Wakko and Dot, are fully playable and retain their sardonic wit.
I found myself laughing on a number of occasions, recalling the show
from my sixth grade days. Now, if they’d only make a Freakazoid
The vocal aspect is well rounded and includes most of the original
cast, but the writing is a mixed bag. A good number of the jokes and
gags are humorous enough, but some of them fall flat. There was a nice
in-joke about Luigi’s Mansion in the haunted house, but times I had a
frozen smile on my face as I tried to choke down a particularly lame
The goofy, stock cartoon sound effects make up for the small
shortcomings of the dialogue. You’ve heard the same bonks, beeps and
ka-boings ever since you watched Bugs Bunny, but an Animaniacs game
would be hollow without the classic, beloved sounds. The music, on the
other hand, is a train wreck, and not the good cartoony kind. Warthog
could apparently afford to hire the cast, but the music license was out
of their budget.
As a result, the original theme has been butchered and is barely
recognizable; it’s the same bastardization from the puke-worthy DS
game. Even worse, it’s constantly playing at the overworld, and I
cringed every time I had to go back there. Music in the other areas
isn’t so bad, but it isn’t noteworthy either. It’s a good thing the
actual game plays well, or the music would’ve ruined it for me.
The gameplay is basically what you’ve come to expect from a platformer,
but just a notch above most other mediocre titles on the market. There
are some challenging, if unoriginal puzzles that require the skills of
the differing characters. A good deal of the interaction is context
sensitive, and I found that each character’s unique approach to solving
a problem was chuckle-worthy and reminiscent of the show. For example,
Dot is able to perform a limbo while wearing a special skirt, and
Wakko’s weapons of choice are oversized boxing gloves.
This is however where one of my complaints arises. Until you acquire
the special items for each of the Warner siblings, they are all
basically the same character with a different appearance. They all have
their unique personalities, which come through abundantly in the voice
acting, but swapping between Yakko, Wakko and Dot is pointless without
the special items. I would’ve liked to see character-specific moves and
abilities that were available from the get-go. You even need scuba gear
to do any water diving. Despite this lack of variety, the characters
have a proficient set of attacks and techniques. Spinning, sliding, and
ledge-hanging aren’t new, but they’re better than just having the
typical jump/duck layout.
Even with the uniformity of the
skills, playing through the myriad environments is enjoyable and
oftentimes amusing. The game spans the Warner movie lot, and the
various soundstages within, so you get to experience a wide range of
locales, from a wild west set to a haunted mansion. The intrinsic
details within each location are ripped straight from the cartoon,
including the slapstick characters. You’ll run into Dr. Scratchansniff
turned Victor Frankenstien in the ghost house, while Pinky and the
Brain are constantly trying to take over the world with their ingenious
minigames. Enemies and bosses are classic Warner Brothers, even if they
can be easily beaten with simple strategies.
The way in which these environments are presented also surprised me.
Though lacking in high poly counts, the texturing is pretty high-res,
and all of the little extras are a treat for the eyes. Character models
are not only faithful to their cartoon counterparts but mimic their
animated look as well. The facial expressions on the Warner kids
themselves were particularly well done. The worlds are solidly
constructed both visually and from a gameplay standpoint; most areas
serve a purpose, and look appealing at the same time. In addition, the
water effects are quite impressive.
I would recommend Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt
to the loyal fans of the series. It doesn’t bring anything fresh to the
gaming table, but offers a substantial adventure that should take at
least six hours to complete. The quality is uncommon for a licensed
title and the show’s charm is intact for the most part. For adventure
fans I suggest something meatier like Zelda; Edgar Hunt
will be nothing but a passing amusement to the hardcore audience.