What season is it? Wabbit? Duck? XFL?
The video game industry seems to think that every popular character on the face of the planet needs to be in a game. So one day, an anonymous genius asks, "What's the quickest, easiest way to incorporate a character into a video game?" Answer: Throw them into a car a have them race each other. Thus we have the birth of the kart racer in all its glory and companies everywhere begin to lick their lips in anticipation of profits to come.
With the bazillion and one kart racers around town, it's really a big surprise that the Looney Tunes characters are just now getting their turn at the wheel. Few pop-character racers have been worthy of their stars and in most cases, the games are only good as coasters or mini-frisbees. With Looney Tunes Space Race, Infogrames hopes to follow the path of success blazed by their first kart title, Wacky Races. But with so many games available in this genre, it's gonna be an all out 'toon war.
ACME, our favorite manufacturer of dependable products, has decided to sponsor a race and the Looney Tunes gang has accepted the challenge. Players will race through twelve different tracks with one of eight characters in order to win the grand prize- a lifetime supply of ACME stuff. Hmmm… that's one prize I know I could do without. So, without further ado, may I present the Space Race!
Naturally, there's Race mode, Time Trial, Challenge (for those times when a certain character wants to kick your patootie) and Multiplayer. While most of these modes are pretty standard kart racing fare, the new 'Acme Events' are a little something special.
While the goal of the mode is still to finish first, the Acme Events will put you in a state of looney racing madness. One race involves objects constantly falling out of the sky while another provides you with an ample supply of random weaponry. This mode is easily the most interesting of the lot and all you have to do to get it is unlock all the events through the main Race mode and Time Trials.
Thankfully, unlocking all of the good stuff isn't that hard. Actually, it's pretty easy… a little too easy, if you ask me. The younger siblings and cousins probably won't have too much trouble getting started…
...that is, if they have the patience to endure the lengthy pre-race load times.
With some excellent 3D renderings of our favorite characters, Space Race rises up to the pinnacle of kart racing graphics. The classic pranksters we all know and love look great in their 3D bodies. Backgrounds are filled with color and perfectly fit the looney theme. Infogrames sure knows how to make cartoon racing look good.
A mere eight playable characters grace the Space Race lineup, making for a somewhat small selection. Lots of famous characters - including Pepe le Pew and the Road Runner - are mysteriously absent. In another bizarre turn of events, Taz and Granny appear as computer controlled opponents, but turn out to be unplayable. I'm still praying that there are some super-secret characters locked away somewhere, but after completing every mode in the game, my hopes are being squashed like a 100 ton anvil on Wile E. Coyote.
The small selection of competitors is worsened by the lack of individuality. Each of the original six characters seem essentially the same. Speed is the same, handling is the same, and the weapons are all the same. So it really doesn't make a difference who you compete as, since there don't seem to be individual strengths and weaknesses for each of the racers. This is a shame and really cuts down on the replayability.
Course design is also a problem. You would think that a Looney Tunes course would be filled with gags, shortcuts, and other zaniness, but unfortunately with Space Race, this just isn't the case. The twelve tracks in the game are pretty straightforward with little to nothing in the way of shortcuts. A few jumps are exciting as things get, leaving an empty feeling in your funny bone. C'mon folks, this is supposed to be looney!
At least the weapons in the game stay in character. You've got your falling anvils, black holes, super-extendo boxing gloves, and much to unleash upon your foes. There's also the dreaded pink stunt elephant, which could decide the outcome of the race. The classic umbrella gag is missing, but there's still plenty of other classic avenues of destruction to choose from.
One little interesting option that needs to be mentione is the selectable language. Ever want to hear the Looney Tunes speak Spanish? French? C'est tres bien.
So in the end, Looney Tunes Space Race comes out just slightly better than your average ho-hum kart racer. It's got sweet graphics and the Looney Tunes, but not a much beyond that. So, until next time…