reviews\ Jul 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor - NDS - Review

Beloved cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Marvin the Martian have seen it all over the years, from a hit cartoon series to a movie with Michael Jordan. While the video games have been hit or miss (although the avante garde DS title Duck Amuck is one of my personal favorites), the franchise has finally found its true genre calling: a music game.

Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor for the DS puts players into the role of a conductor and lets them direct the classical music that is a staple of the cartoon. The gameplay takes the simple rhythm tapping mechanic from Elite Beat Agents and makes it unique. Instead of tapping out bubbles, players slide their stylus over the bubbles in a line, mimicking a conductor, to match the rhythm. While the mechanic is a complete rip off of Elite Beat, the addition of sliding feels completely organic for this game. To break up that action during songs, there is a also another tapping mechanic that mimics the falling notes in Guitar Hero. Together, both mechanics offer an interesting way to play music games.

During the game, the Looney Tunes characters act out a famous skit from the cartoon in time with the music. For instance, during “Rabbit of Seville,” players direct the Barber of Seville Overture while watching Bugs Bunny attempt to shave Elmer Fudd. It was a clever idea for the developers, not only because the classical music is synonymous with the zany cartoon, but because most of the music is in the public domain – no licensing fees!

Overall, the presentation retains much of the charm from the Duck Amuck game. In the menu screens, the characters lean against the stage and make quips at the player. Try tapping them and see what they say! During the in-game skits, the animations and story are pulled off wonderfully for the most part. The graphics similarly are very impressive on the DS. Unlockables, like remixed versions of the classical songs, as well as extensive bios of the characters, will surely please fans.

While I found the game fun and extremely charming, bringing back many nostalgic childhood memories, there are a few things that really hold it back from being exceptional. While most of the skits are well done, a few didn’t quite make sense and left me confused. Also, most of the “action” of the skits is just chase sequences between characters, merely switching pursuers to convey more action. This is juxtaposed to Elite Beat Agents, which featured fully fleshed out stories that changed depending on how well you did in the song. In Looney Tunes, if you fail a song, the curtain drops and that’s it.

Also, there is no multiplayer here, a serious misstep for a game aimed at kids. With 18 stages and different, challenging levels of difficulty, many players will find a relatively fun game wrapped in a lot of nostalgia.

Review Scoring Details for Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor

Gameplay: 8.0
The sliding mechanic is a fresh take on the Elite Beat Agents formula – too bad your hand can get in the way of the action.

Graphics: 8.5
The characters and skits are very well done and manage to look like the cartoons in 3-D.

Sound: 7.5
Good quality music is a requirement for this game. The MIDI arrangements of the classical pieces are adequate, but, in this case, MIDI doesn’t quite live up. However the voice acting is very good.

Difficulty: Medium

Concept: 8.0
Even though the game mechanics are stolen from Elite Beat, the developers put a fresh spin on them.

Overall: 7.8
I wish the developers had done more with this game, like include other modes or pursued the music idea further. But if you like Looney Tunes and Elite Beat Agents, however, this game is totally for you. Here’s hoping they make a real conducting game for the Wii.


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