Looney Tunes: Sheep Raider
Windows - 2001
Description of Looney Tunes: Sheep Raider
Okay, it's perhaps the most bizarrely named game so far this year, but for once this title isn't a total dog (not even a sheep dog... sorry). Sheep, Dog and Wolf follows the adventures of Wyle Coyote's lesser known cousin Ralph Wolf as he attempts to steal sheep from a flock under the watchful eyes of Sam Sheepdog.
It's a Warner Bros. affair based around a dethpickable gameshow, hosted by none other than Daffy Duck - and there'll be plenty more Warner favourites popping up as you progress through the game. Essentially, it's a platform puzzler, more suited to a console than PC, but surprisingly it's a lot of fun. Controls might be a little hard to grapple with, but once the principle is grasped, all you need is to lose your sense of normality and you're away.
The idea is to steal one sheep per level from the slowly dwindling flock without being caught by Sam. Ralph can sneak, sprint, jump, and use an array of over thirty in-game objects to help him along his way (most of which are, of course, made by the ubiquitous ACME factory). He can hide in bushes, disguise himself as a sheep, use rocket packs, lay trails of cabbages, push rocks, tie himself to trees with elastic, blow things up... the list goes on.
Rather than the simplistic kids title you might expect, it's more of a sneak-em-up platform puzzler hybrid with a generous dollop of Warner Bros. humour. Certainly you'll be required to use your brain to get past most levels, although we advise you think out of the box (or rather into the loony tune) to find the solution. The best thing about the levels is that there's never just one solution. Depending on what items and techniques you use, there's generally always a choice of actions, which adds an extra layer of fun. One thing's for certain - it's extremely frustrating, and hellishly difficult in places. Until you work it out, of course.
At infrequent times, Daffy Duck is there to help you out with hints and instructions, although sometimes he's tricky to get to. You can also flick to a map screen, which contains hints for the items you are using. It's mostly self-explanatory, and greatly helps your progress, unless of course you're playing the French language version that we inexplicably seem to have been sent.
To spur you on, each level has a hidden secret bonus, and you can save up these bonuses to 'purchase' special items in between levels. Warner Bros. sketches, character drawings, renders, and other nifty extras are available - they're a definite incentive to go that little bit further.
The game is cell shaded, a la Jet Set Radio, although why you'd try and make a cartoon look more cartoony isn't quite clear. In any case, it's pleasing enough to look at, with some effects fantastically rendered. The only annoying thing we've discovered, other than trying to remember which in-game symbol represents which button, is the camera; it'll often leave you looking at a wall when you walk around a corner, and although it's supposedly controllable, the camera-turn buttons fail to work. It's irritating in some places, and desperately frustrating in others, because trying to jump across slippery ice blocks whilst being forced to look at the wall around the corner isn't too healthy.
The humour is definitely evocatively Warner Bros., and if you're a Looney Tunes fan, you'll almost certainly be an admirer. You'd have to have the heart of a rock not to giggle when Ralph runs off a cliff and stands there for a few seconds before realising it in true 'toon style, and then plunging to his doom. For good simple, cartoon fun, you can't beat it, but you might not have much hair left at the end - be warned.
Review By GamesDomain
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