The old Looney Tunes cartoons have all the elements for generation-spanning entertainment. Unique characters. Fun storylines. Multidimensional humor. Fantastic music. Basically, the Warner Bros. cartoons of yore have what it takes to be called “classic.” Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal does not. In spite of its excellent source material and association with Warner Bros. Interactive, Acme Arsenal lacks the personality, plot and production values to stand out from the crowded pack of action platformers.
Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal’s troubles begin with the first level, which really encapsulates the entire experience. Players are assigned two characters and can switch between them at any time, theoretically giving each character a chance to gather power-boosting “illudium” and one of the game’s outlandish weapons. In the first level, players find themselves jumping, smashing and shooting their way through evil robots and switch-activated platforms in search of the blueprints to a time machine. This sounds like a nice enough plot and objective — but the only way players know it is by reading the instruction manual.
Supposedly, the plot hinges on the Looney Tunes gaining access to this time machine so in subsequent levels they can go back in time and save their ancestors from the mad scientist’s evil robots, which have dressed themselves in period-appropriate attire. But this premise is only explained in the instruction manual, and no in-game cutscenes flesh out the plot any further. As a result, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal counts on its gameplay being diverse, fun and unique enough to carry the day. And it’s not.
Acme Arsenal includes traditional platforming fare such as double-jumps, switch-pressing and timed jumps, as well as healthy dose of Acme-inspired weapons, one of which players can hold at any given time. By and large the execution of these elements is fine, but the game’s over-reliance on just a few of them makes its arguably long levels seem that much longer and, even worse, that much more tedious. The core level design of most missions is actually solid, with creative situations and environmental obstacles, but the levels are extended over such a long period that the cleverness of that design loses its power halfway through Act Two. And ironically, the levels at that point get even longer.
Had the game’s multimedia been better executed and more inspired, the length of these levels might be more endurable. But again, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal falls short. The levels, while colorful and creative, suffer from some of the worst draw-in we’ve ever seen, a true tragedy considering the simplicity of the architecture. Then there’s the camera, which often gets stuck behind obstacles, a problem exacerbated by players’ inability to manually move it. But in spite of all this, the audio is one of the most disappointing multimedia aspects, because although the classic Warner Bros. cartoons had witty lines in spades, there’s a general lack of any meaningful audio or banter outside of environmental and weapons sounds.
There’s little question why Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal got green-lighted. Its plot premise was sound, the Looney Tunes just ooze hilarious scenarios and weapon options, and the characters are rife with level-design and gameplay potential. But that potential is what makes the poor execution so disappointing. With such great source material, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal could have been one of the most inspired action platformers to date. Now it just feels like a rushed tie-in for the Looney Tunes cartoons’ release on Xbox Live Marketplace. This game could have been so much more; instead, the repetitive gameplay and drawn-out levels will do little more than leave people wondering whether Porky Pig was actually posing a question with his classic “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”
- Score: 6
- Poor execution, no real personality and identical gameplay across multiple characters squash the fun factor like a 50-ton Acme anvil.
— Jonas Allen