Tristan Kalogeropoulos
14 Feb, 2008

Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal Review

PS2 Review | These Tunes aren't exactly hits.
Warner Brother’s Looney Tunes roster of offbeat characters seems the perfect well from which to draw from when creating a licensed game. Sure, Bugs can be a little irritating, but the situations he gets himself into have created many a fond childhood memory of spending Sunday mornings on the couch, or enjoying the first few minutes before the feature at the cinema. Everyone has their favourite Warner Bros. cartoon persona. That’s why it’s such a shame to see them all appear in such an overtly below average game.

Acme Arsenal is a platformer/beat-‘em-up that drags the Looney Tunes kicking and screaming through time and some of the beloved locations from the animated shorts. An evil scientist has built a time machine to send back hordes of murderous robots to destroy the ancestors of the cast of characters in order to erase them from the pages of history.

In Acme Arsenal the looks of the Looney Tunes have been updated to fit with the times. For the most part these character models do a decent amount of justice to their cartoonish origins. Marvin is particularly well designed, his pint sized legs blurring as he sprints from place to place. Each character has their own weapon too, it’s just a shame that these are simply superficial differentiations between the cast of the game. Bug’s guitar acts in exactly the same fashion as Marvin’s lightsaber-esque armaments or Daffy Duck’s mallet.

A lot of the scenario’s the ‘Tunes’ are placed in have been drawn from the backdrops of the cartoons. Whilst some of these bring back fond memories, their general drabness and lack of interactivity makes it feel as though you’re jumping and smashing your way through an unfinished game. Textures are generally dull and there’s an unfortunate amount of slowdown and stuttering, especially considering the PS2 is at the end of its life and developers should have learnt to squeeze better performance out of it. It’s almost as if the game needed a little more time in development to reach its full potential. There are a couple of environmental puzzles to solve, but these are fairly basic and reasonably unimpressive. Unfortunately the uninspiring nature of Acme Arsenal’s environments is also carried through to gaming content.

Robots - A mad scientists wet dream; A cartoon rabbit's recurring nightmare.

Robots - A mad scientists wet dream; A cartoon rabbit's recurring nightmare.
A note to Acme Arsenal’s developer’s – Dressing up your robot creations in themed outfits does not a varied list of foes make. As you travel through each level in the game the lack of variety in enemies becomes painfully apparent. An almost endless stream of robots will stand in the way of each of your destinations. For the most part these are all fairly generic and change little, despite being given different costumes to fit the scenery. These mechanical foes do not only fail in their design.

It’s almost completely feasible to make your way through each of the levels in Acme Arsenal, touching only a few of those put in place to provide a challenge. Playing through almost ends up feeling more like a game of rugby or American football as you dodge and weave through opponents to make it to the touchline-like end of level goal. There’s never really the feeling that you’ve accomplished anything when you do take on enemies, partly due to their generic nature and partly due to the fact that they can so easily be avoided.

Coupled with the enemies feeling like window dressing there are issues around your weapons. Scattered throughout the levels is the glowing power up called Illudium which boosts the power of your melee attack. However, when hit, you lose Illudium meaning that the amount of damage you can dish out is diminished. In other words, if you’re struggling you’ll struggle more. It’s like making poor people pay fines for being poor. There are a slew of projectile weapons scattered around the levels but for a game that has Acme as its manufacturer of choice they are a reasonably dull bunch, all apart from one that has an extendable arm with a boxing glove attached.

Technical issues are abound in Acme Arsenal. Even in some otherwise technically proficient 3D games, non-fixed cameras have created havoc, but the fact that the camera manages to obscure your character and objects of importance in the environment quite often adds to the pile of problems. It’s not unusual that you’ll be surrounded by enemies and experience a great deal of difficulty moving the camera to the friendliest position after it has placed itself at some odd, almost useless angle. There are also many moments in which the controlled character will appear stuck on surroundings. A quick jiggle of the controller and they are cut loose, but this still detracts from the game. Along with these issues, a lot of the time the characters slide around so much that it feels as though you're watching a Warner Bros. on Ice. show.

Boxes, robots, plungers, rinse and repeat.

Boxes, robots, plungers, rinse and repeat.
The Looney Tunes cartoons drip with such grand comedic delivery that they shaped almost all animated shorts appearing after their original airings. Whilst Acme Arsenal has its funny moments, a lot of it just doesn’t hit the mark. And although the voices are true to their originals, hearing them spouting the same phrases throughout the levels when the most minor of accomplishments is achieved quickly becomes irritating.

Another standout feature of the Warner Bros. cartoons was their music. A great deal of the near perfection contained within the show’s tunes was in their timing. Unfortunately Acme Arsenal seems to miss the mark in this regard. Whilst some of the elements that made the cartoon’s compositions so great are present in the general tone of the music, the game seems to miss out on a crucial element exhibited by the originals, timing. Linking the aural aspects of the show with the slapstick action that was taking place on screen, thus creating a musical representation of what the viewer was seeing, was a key strength of the original Looney Tunes. Unfortunately these qualities are not present here.

One thing that the Acme Arsenal has going for it is the fact that it has splitscreeen multiplayer modes. Unfortunately the game is even less fun with two people. Adding an extra layer of painfulness, and in what seems a bid to disorient, a player lagging behind is teleported nearer the character farthest in the level, regardless of whether or not they are mid-battle or other actions. Similarly the battle mode ends up being a dull two player death match experience.

Acme Arsenal ends up being a rather lacklustre game, which is a shame as the ideas behind it are relatively sound. It all comes off feeling a little undercooked. As if removed from the oven of development a little early, much of Acme Arsenal feels as though it is lacking in spirit and the game never manages to engage the player. Technical flaws also hamper what little enjoyment the game offers up.
The Score
Unfortunately Acme Arsenal never really delivers. The gameplay is repetitive and bland, never really offering a great deal of enjoyment. One of Bug’s quips as he topples enemies in the game is, “now this is fun.” We’re sorry Bug’s, but you’re sorely mistaken.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
6 years ago
Nice review there Tristan, and I share your thoughts exactly. What a stinker.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  6/02/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $49.95 AU
  Warner Bros Interactive Ent
  Action Adventure
Year Made:

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