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by Infogrames

1-01.jpg (4613 bytes)I’ve been looking for a good Dreamcast kart racer for a while now (they’re the only type of game that my wife will play with me). With all of its processing power I found it odd that there wasn’t anything that could measure up to Mario Kart 64 or Crash Team Racing. Kart racers are a delicate balancing act. Trying to pull off the right combination of racing and power-ups is no mean feat. Although Looney Tunes is a little power up happy, it works perfectly with the Looney Tunes environment. You know that if these guys were racing in one of their classic cartoons they’d spend more time trying to drop 10-ton weights on one another than vying for the best lap time. It’s is less about being the fastest than being the most ruthless. Chuck Jones would be proud.

2-01.jpg (4153 bytes)The first thing you’ll notice when you start this game is how true the characters look. Infogrames used the same cell shading technique that was used in Jet Grind Radio, and in some ways it even looks better here. These Looney Tunes characters belong on the two dimensional plane. The other Looney Tune games I’ve seen have tried to turn Daffy or Bugs into Mario. But bugs and Daffy are not and will never be Mario (with all due respect to Nintendo). The graphics are not jaw dropping. They’re something better—they’re satisfying.

2.jpg (4439 bytes)All of your favorites are here from Elmer Fudd to Wile E. Coyote. You’ll love the detail put into their expressions and voices (Wile E. remains silent of course, but he does have signs to let you know how he’s feeling). You actually feel like you’re in control of a cartoon. Granted, there’s not much of a plot, but then plot was never the strength of Looney Tunes cartoons. Just look at any of the shorts with Wile E. Coyote and his Roadrunner fixation or Elmer Fudd and his rabbit obsession. The stories are all the same; it’s the environments and gags that change. And if you’re looking for a variety of tracks and jokes, you won’t have to look any further.

There are 12 tracks on a variety of planets to race on. Each track is jam-packed with detail. I particularly liked the slave Martians plugging away in the mines. Being a Space Race game, you need to be particularly careful about staying on the tracks. There’s nothing below, which makes some of the jumps all that more daring.

4-01.jpg (4697 bytes)The power ups are everything that you would hope for in a game like this. Sure, there are your traditional rockets and bombs, but only in the Looney Tunes universe can you pick up a remote control and drop pinkelephants on your opponents. The Acme Gags never get old. And although it’s frustrating to have a piano come crashing down on you, it’s also kind of fun. There are also fuel barrels that you collect for your turbo boost. You need to be extra careful where you use these because the racers don’t handle corners well at high speeds.

As you win races, you’re awarded with Acme Gold coins which you can use to unlock a series of events like a portable hole only track, or a course fraught with falling objects. There are forty of these events, so it’s not likely you’ll be getting bored anytime soon with this game.

20.jpg (4489 bytes)The real test of its replayability is in the multi-player mode and Looney Tunes Space Race does not disappoint. There’s no real noticeable slow down with the multi-player modes. It looks great and I couldn’t notice any significant loss of detail. This is also one of those rare games where onlookers will have just as much fun as the players. It really lends itself well to get togethers. The level design, animation, and gags all work together to create a uniquely entertaining sporting event that will have onlookers cheering for their favorite characters with all of the enthusiasm they might show for a Nascar event. Except there are no falling safe’s in Nascar.

25.jpg (5317 bytes)It’s a sad truth that so many games lack a sense of style or personality regardless of how pretty they look or how well they play. The Warner Bros. cartoons, however, have never been short in the personality or style department. Infogrames has done a remarkable job of staying faithful to a franchise that everyone loves while at the same time creating a game so addictive that it would stand on its own without Bugs and his crew. Infogrames hasn’t made a game for Looney Tunes fans, it’s made a game for video game fans.

29.jpg (5096 bytes)There has not been a lot of hype surrounding this game. It arrived on the market without a lot of fanfare and I feel a sort of gamer’s obligation to alert the world to the fun that they can have with this little package. On top of all of this—it’s cheap! At $29.99 I was expecting a few corners to be cut in the number of tracks or characters, but everything you could ask for (and more) is here.

8.jpg (4385 bytes)I keep waiting for signs of the Dreamcast going the way of the world. The first sign is usually erratic third party release of a substandard quality. If Looney Tunes Space Race is any indication, the Dreamcast’s pulse is still strong and will be with us for awhile yet. If you have even a passing fancy for kart games you owe it to yourself to buy this game. You will be hard pressed to find an experience that is more enjoyable. Looking over this review I can’t help but notice that I didn’t level one criticism against it. That’s because I cannot find a single fault in the game. Looney Tunes Space Race is as close to a flawless game as I’ve ever played. If it doesn’t deserve our coveted 1st place medal, I don’t know what does. Oh, and my wife likes it too.

Jason Frank


Ups: Great graphics; excellent course design; lots of variety; favorite characters; way looney.

Downs: What downs?

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast


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