Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Best Cartoon Video Games

Hey! Did you know that I like classic cartoon characters!? I like them in my movies, I like them on my breakfast cereal, and I like them in my video games. More often than not, a cartoon based video game is slapped together quickly - sometimes the game doesn't even have anything to do with the cartoon. For instance, Snoopy's Silly Sports Spectacular where you have to help Snoopy and his brother Spike carry a stack of pizzas over a finish line...in Italy?! Other times, cartoon gaming experiences are pure joy! Here's some of the best video games based on cartoon properties that I've ever played...

The Little Mermaid (NES) Here's a game where you'd think it was going to be only for four year old girls. But instead, the great game developer Capcom created this multi-level intricate platform game where you swim Ariel through six levels of undersea peril. This was the first video that I played all the way through and beat. That was about 20 years ago and I still talk about it...pretty sad, eh?

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (NES) Here's another Capcom Disney game that I beat. Based on the Disney Afternoon series of the same name, this game allowed two players at the same time running through the city and picking up and trowing everything in sight. This was a fast paced game with alot of tricky obstacles and challenging enemies. Even though the cartoon show took some liberties with the Chip `n Dale characters, the video game stayed very true to the spirit of the show. Just don't get me started on how we all got gypped out of a Rescue Rangers movie.

Popeye (Arcade) This might be the first arcade video game to feature a classic animated character and I think most video game aficionados would agree that Popeye is one of the all-time classic old school games. Popeye has to catch the little hearts that Olive Oil is tossing out. He's got to catch them before they reach the water at the bottom of the screen. Standing in Popeye's way is his ol' nemesis Bluto. Luckily, Popeye can always grab a can of spinach and punch Bluto square in the face, or he can hit a punching bag and drop a bucket on Bluto's head. The game even works the obscure Sea Hag character into the mix! Even the cartoons forgot about the Sea Hag!

Donald Duck in Goin' Quackers (Playstation/PS2) This game really blew me away because it's just as challenging and complex as any Mario Bros. game you'll ever play. There's level after level of frustrating situations to make Donald mad. One of the neatest features of this game is that they worked in the animation of Donald's trademark temper tantrum. There's also a full cast of supporting characters from Donald's hometown of Duckburg. An all around really well-done game that took me months to beat...but I did it!

B.C.'s Quest For Tires (Commadore 64) Perhaps the best game ever that you can play with the arrow keys on your keyboard. Thor the caveman must ride his stone unicycle while jumping over rocks, animals and holes in the ground all on his way to save his girlfriend from an evil dinosaur. Good times! A better game has never been put on one of those gigantic black floppy discs.

Sorcerer's Apprentice (Atari 2600) Mickey Mouse has starred in at least a dozen video games over the past few decades, this is one of the earliest and the only one I've ever really gotten into. Based on the sequence from the 1940 film Fantasia, this primitive game was made up of two screens. The first, pictured here, involves Mickey shooting and catching stars. I never really got this stage and never spent much time playing it, but if you exit the screen to either side you got to the meat of the game. On the other screen you had to stop the walking brooms from making their way to the bottom of a staircase and dump their bucket of water. The more brooms you missed, the higher the water lever rose in the room. Quick, simple game play that was also addictive and fun. (There's a new Wii game around the corner called Epic Mickey that looks pretty darn cool!)

Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle (Colecovision/Atari 2600) You have no idea how bad I wanted this game when I was younger! After years of lusting over it, I finally got to play it on a neighbor's Colecovision. It was pure video gaming heaven for this young Smurf fan. Not only does this game incorporate the world of the Smurfs into it, the game is made up of the greatest basic objective in all of video game history: run through a forest, jump over things, collect things. It's all as simple as that! Later on in high school, somebody mentioned that they had this game and I made them dig out their old Atari games and find it for me so I could finally sit and play it. Another check-off on my bucket list! (Here's a link to the old commercial.)

The Simpsons: Road Rage (PS2/Game Cube) The Simpsons have had a long career in video games since the show debuted 20 years ago. I remember playing a game called Bart vs. the Space Mutants quite feverishly back in the day, and The Simpsons arcade game stands out as a classic. But I really loved this 2003 variation of the hit game Crazy Taxi. Road Rage is almost the same game except that it's filled with The Simspsons brand of humor and wonderful cast of characters. The game looks an awful lot like the TV show and you get to drive around town exploring all the nooks and crannies of Springfield. Probably one of the games I've logged the most hours on in my adult years.

Tiny Toons 2: Trouble in Wackyland (NES) In my book, when you mix amusement parks with video games there is much goodness to be had. Using a theme park as it's center, this game was a collection of mini-games based on different theme park rides. There was a roller coaster game, bumper cars, a train ride, and a log flume. They were all pretty addictive, if I recall correctly. I'm not sure how well the game captured the spirit of the Tiny Toons cartoon but it sure was a fun game.

The Flintstones: Rescue of Dino & Hoppy (NES) Like others on the list, The Flintstones have popped up in more than one video game. This Nintendo game was my favorite as it was built around the simple side-scrolling platform engine that I've come to adore in video games. Of course you've got Fred and Wilma and the whole cast of characters from one of my all-time favorite TV shows and there's lots of rocks and boulders to smash. I don't think I ever got past the end of level 2 where you had to beat Joe Rockhead at a game of basketball. Thanks Joe Rockhead!

Darkwing Duck (NES) Finally one last fantastic Disney Afternoon inspired game from the folks at Capcom. Darkwing Duck was a show I really enjoyed and I loved the video game just as much. I consider this one of my all-time favorite video games. The game play is so smooth and fun, with lots of things to shoot at and grab hold to and jump on and over...it's just alot of fun. The game also incorporated the entire world of the show very nicely. I easily burned way too many hours playing this in my Community College days. Tell well spent if you ask me!

Please share with us any toon games you've loved over the years...

3 comments:

mpm said...

Kingdom Hearts has plenty to offer fans of Disney cartoons. Although the weird melding with other Square/Enix characters might be off-putting, I really enjoyed some of the true Disney geekiness of the game. (In Kingdom Hearts II you get to play a level in black and white in the Steamboat Willie environment!)

Ed South said...

I had a feeling someone was going to mention Kingdom Hearts. I played through the first handful of levels on the first game and I didn't really get into it. The gameplay style is certainly not my cup of tea and I thought they took to many liberties with the Disney characters. Still, I'm glad so many people liked it.

Aren't you more upset about my exclusion of Strawberry Shortcake: Musical Matchups!?

mpm said...

Hmm...I guess I see Strawberry Shortcake as a doll first. But now that you mention it, I'm furious!

I'll quell it with a quick Purple Pieman dance.

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