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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by Infogrames

ltr2-01.jpg (4176 bytes)I know that these are only video game reviews. The words I write here will not likely endure past a few months of the release date, but I still feel a need to try to say something interesting or different when approaching these games. I like to use personal anecdotes to show that I can make connections between video games and life. I also enjoy making literary references to show that I’m well read. However, with the kart racer genre it feels like every possible allusion has already been stolen. There have been so many of these games in that last few years that there is really nothing new to say. Even if the game is pretty good—which this one is—whatever I write is going to sound like every other kart racer review that has been written. It all boils down to cute characters going around and around the mini-golf equivalent of race tracks. The strategy is simple: learn the track and use your power ups well. In the five years since Mario Kart 64, Kart racers are pretty much the same with only a few variations. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you like kart racers, but it makes it almost impossible to write about them.

ltr1-01.jpg (4006 bytes)A few weeks ago I reviewed Looney Tunes Space Race for the Dreamcast and I assumed that when I plunked the Looney Tunes Racing disc down into my PSone that I would find pretty much the same game. I was wrong. Looney Tunes Racing is a more traditional kart racer than its Dreamcast counterpart. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s obvious that Infogrames was well aware of those that had gone before and they have proven to be up to the challenge. Forget Crash, forget Mario, Elmer Fudd is where it’s at. That is, if you don’t already have a kart racer.

ltr3-01.jpg (4354 bytes)Let’s just get something out of the way, Looney Tunes Racing for the PlayStation is probably the single best kart racer available for the system. Although it is not miles ahead of Crash Team Racing, it does seem to edge it out because of the unique power-up system and the addition of gag gates. The tracks are all really well designed. Each one a nice homage to the classic Chuck Jones shorts of years gone by. As I said in my review of Looney Tunes Space Race, there is just something about these characters that belongs in the kart racing genre (I just wish that they had beat Diddy Kong to the punch). Daffy, Bugs and Marvin all belong in these races. The biggest problem I have in writing this review is that at its heart it is like every other kart racer and if you already have one for your Psone then there probably isn’t a whole lot of reason to get this. It pains me to write this because it is such a solid game in its own right.

ltr4-01.jpg (4614 bytes)There are a few things that set this game apart from the crowd, like the power up system. Rather than work with a random selection of power ups like most racers do, you can collect tokens strewn about the track which will level up your attacks. This adds an element of strategy that we haven’t seen in previous kart racers. I enjoyed being able to hold off on an attack until I got the homing pie or the anvil. The track design is really nice as well. There are over 15 tracks in this game and all of them will remind you of the Looney Tunes cartoons of your youth. I was also impressed with the level of animation going on in the backgrounds. There were a few times when I veered off course because I was too distracted by something in the periphery. Another nice touch is the use of Gag Gates that will trigger traps like falling rocks, giant prancing sheep, and carrot-like ghosts. It’s one more element of danger to make things interesting. The sound effects are also well done, but I would have liked a few more voice samples to keep things lively.

ltr5-01.jpg (4087 bytes)As for racers, you have over fifteen characters to choose from. All of the Looney Tune favorites are here and a few of the marginal characters as well. There are a lot of characters and tracks to unlock as you win tournaments. The only thing this game is lacking is a 4-player option. But since I have difficulty rounding up 3 of my friends at any one time to play a kart racer, I honestly don’t even notice its absence while playing. It does, however, make the battle mode a little stale going up against just one person.

If you’re looking for a sense of narrative in your racer there is an adventure section of the game that has you racing for rare Acme artifacts. It’s not the most enthralling story, but it’s a nice change of pace. Looney Tunes Racing has everything that you could be looking for in a kart game, and if it had come out before CTR it would be making a much bigger splash in the industry.

I am so happy that there was no such thing as Pokemon when I was growing up. It was Looney Tunes all the way (supplemented by the original Transformers and GI Joe) and I feel that I am a better person for it. Infogrames has given us Warner Bros. aficionados a way to return to our youth. This is a great game, but in the end, it’s just another kart racer. There hasn’t been a second Mario Kart for the N64 because there’s no need for it. The game does what it needs to do and it still sells well. If you have Crash Team Racing this game won’t feel new or revolutionary, but if you’re looking for a kart racer for the PSone or PS2, you won’t go wrong with this. It does everything it should better than it needs to.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Great kart racer; solid gameplay; cool powerup system; favorite characters.

Downs: Still not enough innovation to make it truly exceptional.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation

 

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