Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Galactic Taz Ball

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            Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes have had a turbulent past in videogames. While many 16-bit titles are to this day considered pioneers of 2D gameplay innovation, Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the Mega-Drive’s Taz: Escape from Mars being two noteworthy examples, many have fallen foul the all-too-common trend of being half-baked, patronising design for children who would generally be taking part in more challenging adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom and Green Hill Zone. The most recent release featuring Looney Tunes characters, Galactic Taz Ball, has most certainly taken it’s inspiration from the former, hoping to mirror the success of those earlier titles through inventive use of modern gaming technology.

            The game consists of a number of worlds divided into levels and each topped-off with a boss fight. The levels are structured as constant switches between the longer Overworld sections, and shorter, more Electronic Theatre Imagementally taxing Underworld segments. While both gameplay presentations are delivered with 3D visuals, the Underworld takes place in a 2D environment. Blindfolded and under your direct command, Taz much reach the exit of these sections in order to open gates to progress through in the Overworld.

            The Overworld in essence plays very similarly to an early Nintendo DS release from Namco, Pac’N Roll. Using a virtual scroll ball on the touch screen, plays flick the stylus in the direction they wish to move Taz on the top screen. Enemies little areas which Taz must carefully negotiate, and only one attack exists – a shot-range thump which brings you to a complete stop, o matter how much momentum has been built. Beginning with wide open spaces and easily navigable linear paths, the Overworld section of the game soon evolves into spinning platforms, lava traps and long distance jumps. What appears deceptively simple at first soon becomes steadily more challenging, tasking players with surveying what comes ahead while tackling more immediate obstacles. Ultimately, the Overworld acts as a test of reflexes, as player continue to rub the screen in order to keep Taz’s tornado going while often being required to change direction on a pinhead.

            The shorter Underworld segments are often presented without the opportunity for failure, but instead with hidden objects to collect before being forced towards a conclusion. The challenge lies in using the right series of springs, fans and motorised claws to get your blindfolded Taz to your desired destination before returning to the correct path to be taken back to the Overworld. As with the Overworld, the puzzles here begin incredibly simply and yet don’t take too long to ramp-up to the point where even experienced gamers will find themselves missing the occasional reward.

Along with the immediate treasures and power-ups, adding extra lives or granting short-term invincibility, each level holds five Golden Kiwi Bird statues, and collecting all five will unlock a bonus on the ExtrasElectronic Theatre Image Menu. A tradition harking all the way back to Super Mario World’s Golden Yoshi Coins, here in Galactic Taz Ball the impetus adds a similar amount of replay value. Galactic Taz Ball has clearly been designed with players of all experience level in mind. Younger gamers will find the “fun” difficulty setting a pleasant walkthrough the game, especially given that after a few failed attempts at the same obstacle, the game will offer you the opportunity to skip to the next checkpoint in exchange for an easily earned life, while more dedicated gamers will find the mixture of dexterity and cerebral Platforming challenges addictive on the “crazy” difficulty option.

A crisp and clean looking game, Galactic Taz Ball is of a comfortable 3D visual design. The environments are varied and look just as good with their bright welcoming colour palette as any of Mario’s many worlds, and Taz himself is animated surprisingly well given his gangly extremities. The audio design isn’t particularly inspiring, but hardly could be considered a point at which the game faults.

Galactic Taz Ball is a surprisingly enjoyable game, especially considering its innovation is strictly on a minor scale. A simple case of finely detailed, delicate construction has turned what would otherwise have bee a run-of-the-mill Platform experience to something much great than the sum of its parts. Both the Overworld and Underworld are necessary to compliment one another, and rarely does one outstay it’s welcome. Galactic Taz Ball may not be a revolution in Platform gaming, but it’s certainly learnt its lesson from those successful 16-bit Looney Tunes adventures.

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