You are currently viewing an archival version of GF!

Click here to return to the current GamesFirst! website.


GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004


anim_logo.jpg (11615 bytes)

star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by Southpeak

Ups:Easy to play; fun multi-player options; Hello Nurse!
Downs: Static treatment of dynamic subject; repetitious; regrettable lack of music and dialogue (Come on! They're the Animaniacs!)
System Reqs:
P166MHz processor; 32MB RAM; 2MB of free disk space; 4x CD-ROM; Gamepad, joystick, or keyboard.
anim4.jpg (7949 bytes)Remember that scene in the movie "Stand By Me" where the boys sit around a campfire pondering the mysteries of the ages and Teddy asks: "If Pluto's a dog, then what the **** is Goofy?" The dopey pudge Vern replies for all of us when he responds: "Yeah … that's weird. What is Goofy?!" It's a compelling question, one that continues to resonate for us. One could ask, for instance, the same of the Warner Brothers, Wakko and Yakko, and the Warner Sister, Dot. What in the heck are the Animaniacs? Monkeys? Dogs? Mice?

anim3.jpg (6752 bytes)In the end, it probably doesn't matter how you choose to describe these animated urchins in current zoological parlance because no matter what you conclude, the fact remains that they have done a lot to enrich our appreciation for what animation can do. And in the Animaniacs television series, animation can do everything, especially make fun of all the things we are often tempted to take too seriously: politics, media, food, art, literature, and even classic movies and cartoons. All of this irreverent lampooning, coupled with rapid, witty patter and paced with musical scores that aspire to Carl Stalling's best work for Warner Bros., makes for great cartoons that appeal to a wide audience, but is it possible to translate the Warners' energy to a PC game? Maybe, but Southpeak hasn't really pulled it off with their "ANIMANIACS: A Gigantic Adventure" game.

anim2.jpg (7644 bytes)Admittedly, as far as side-scrolling adventure games for kids go, "ANIMANIACS: A Gigantic Adventure" does the job. The gameplay is seamless and solid and the graphics are pretty good, although the only graphics that are truly 3D are the power-ups and health tokens in the shapes of slabs of birthday cake, ice-cream sundaes and hearts. Players get to maneuver as all three Warners, each of whom spends plenty of time jumping around in levels that increase in difficulty as players proceed through the game. Unfortunately, the kids don't interact with one another and say very little, so the continuous, wry prattle that makes the television series stand out is sorely missed here. Still, there's a slew of pesky minions to squash, including Ralph the Security Guard and lots of snarling rats, yet no one dies. A symphony of sound effects--bonks, whistles, and squeaks--accompanies the action, but there is no musical score to complement it. In this sense, Southpeak has come up with an entertainment that will probably engage kids for a while, but one that may be too repetitious and quiet to keep their interest long enough to finish the game. A six-year-old kid, for example, enjoyed watching his nine-year-old brother play the game, but wasn't at all upset when his big brother tired of it and decided to load another title to play. Neither did the younger lad seem too interested in playing the game himself once it was his turn to man the terminal. Maybe these play-testers would've found the game more engaging if they'd tried the local two-player or online multi-player options, both of which add some surprises to the game and make it a little more dynamic.

anim1.jpg (7536 bytes)In the end, I was more interested in playing the game than my young cohorts because I wanted to see what kind of story unfolded as the game progressed. Unfortunately, the only story in the game is a familiar tale from the series repeated in the opening movie: Thaddeus J. Plotz tries to send the Warners away. Crafty as these three are, they escape and end up on an ocean liner throughout which Plotz has scattered their movies and awards. The game follows the Warners as they try to retrieve their gewgaws from various rooms on the ship. Nothing else really develops from this premise. Southpeak seems to have attempted some sort of tie-in with "Titanic" by subtitling it "A side splitting scroller of titanic proportions!" and creating a logo that incorporates the rivets-and-steel look of the doomed ship itself. While perhaps an attempt to indulge the same kind of ironic resonance that characterizes the animated series, Southpeak only succeeds in offering the game in dated theme and packaging. Adding to the dated feel of the game is the fact that Animaniacs has been out of production and in syndication for a couple of years now. While these cartoons are still funny, they are so in nostalgic way. So even though "ANIMANIACS: A Gigantic Adventure" is a dependable, working side-scrolling adventure game, Southpeak has missed the boat in terms of creating an innovative and compelling gaming experience with what could be a great subject.

--Greg Matthews