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DS  header logo

Looney Tunes: Cartoon Concerto

For: DS

What's up, Wagner?

Product: Looney Tunes: Cartoon Concerto | Developer: Griptonite Games | Publisher: Eidos | Format: DS | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Looney Tunes: Cartoon Concerto DS, thumbnail 1
Two things surprised me when playing Looney Tunes: Cartoon Concerto for the first time.

The first is that for parents looking to buy their offspring a DS rhythm game, it turns out Looney Tunes is a more cultured choice than they might have thought. Because despite it being crammed to cart capacity with cartoon clips of Sylvester the Cat getting blown sky-high with a stick of dynamite and Wile E Coyote crashing into boulders and sprinting off rock faces on his eternal mission to catch Road Runner, it's all done to famous classical overtures.

So while watching their favourite cartoon characters smashing one another in the face with spades, your kids are also going to be consigning Beethoven's Symphony No 5 and Ride of the Valkyries to memory while tapping along to them with their stylus. Brilliant.

The second thing I didn't expect is that it isn't solely for children. I actually struggled with some of the later songs, in fact. Admittedly, adults might not be quite so enamoured with watching Elmer Fudd skulking about after Buggs Bunny but, conveniently ignoring that for a moment, on the hardest Maestro difficulty setting the game is certainly tough enough to offer them a challenge. That's because Looney Tunes, to its credit, has a bit more to it than your usual budget rhythm-action affair, where you're usually consigned to the mindless tapping of notes as they fall down the screen.

Instead, this game uses numbered icons which form chains of notes. These sometimes appear individually, but usually there are more and playing them involves sliding the stylus from one consecutive number to the next.

You can tell when to strike the note by its outline, which gradually shrinks. The nearer the outline is to its icon when you hit it, the more in rhythm you are and the more points (or carrots) you earn. Easy.

These carrots boost your audience bar – a bar that drops for every bum note you play and spells 'game over' if it empties completely. Other considerations also exist, such as the obvious stringing together of as many perfect notes as possible for the best grade at the end of the performance.

It's all good, however a couple of problems do spring up with regards to the game design. The screen can get very cluttered – especially on the higher difficulty levels – so it's hard to see where the next note is positioned and when to hit it. Also, timings can feel a bit off. I kept missing the last notes of sequences in some pieces despite feeling like I should have got them. Essentially, while Looney Tunes is a sound rhythm game with some substance in some ways, it's the gameplay doesn't prove quite as tight as you'd like.

Where it does excel slightly is with the cartoons that play on the top screen during each song. At certain moments, a finger will point you away from the game and up to the top screen where your efforts are rewarded with a mini cartoon clip like Tweety getting one over on Sylvester the Cat. These cartoon clips aren't the best quality aesthetically, but the humour of Daffy Duck getting his beak knocked out of alignment luckily seems to transcend polygon counts.

There are 18 musical pieces in total, so 18 cartoon scenes to watch, which is reasonably good value. Unfortunately, playing through the game on the higher difficulty levels (which you'll probably want to do) does mean watching those same unskippable cartoons again and again. Something which can start to grate after a while (at least for the older players).

It also means playing through some of the less suitable tunes over again. While I'm sure the game's target audience will enjoy most of the more familiar, up-tempo classical tunes, compositions such as Concerto For Two Horns are a bit difficult to get into. And while it's difficult to properly assess, I do wonder whether a lot of kids would rather have something a bit more fun to play along to as well.

Still, Looney Tunes is undoubtedly a perfectly playable rhythm-action game. The main concern is with regards to its lack of variety – there's no two-player mode, for instance, and the gameplay does get a little repetitive.

Without that variety and the sort of outstanding rhythm combos and addictive songs that really make it possible for a title to stand out in this increasingly crowded genre, Cartoon Concerto doesn't exactly shine but it is good value for a budget (£19.99) game.

It's essentially a likeable family game suitable for pretty much anyone with a soft spot for Road Runner and chums. It's no Daigasso! Band Brothers (for those familiar with the celebrated Japan-only rhythm-action affair), sure, but it's also not quite as many million miles away from it as you might have expected, either. Which is another pleasing surprise.
 
Looney Tunes: Cartoon Concerto
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 10 June 2008
Likeable, fun rhythm game that uses clips from Warner Bros' most famous cartoon enemies to spice up the action. Bit simplistic and lacks any outstanding features, but it is universally playable
 
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