Nearly everyone I know grew up watching the Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings. The timeless antics of Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and all the rest of the Looney Tunes gang remain a centerpiece of my childhood experience. Surprisingly, Bugs Bunny and friends have not had an (official) presence within the modern mobile games scene until just recently, when Zynga launched Looney Tunes Dash! for Android and iOS devices.
Looney Tunes Dash is an auto-runner game that features all of the main Looney Tunes characters (and even a few obscure ones like Gossamer) set in their natural environments. The game is broken apart into zones and each zone has it’s own theme; the first zone is Bugs Bunny running from Elmer Fudd, naturally this zone takes place in a forest. The second zone is set in the orange desert that is instantly recognizable as the lair of Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, in which, you guessed it, players control the Roadrunner as it runs from Wile E. Coyote.
If you ask me, a Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote endless runner should have been a thing a long time ago. So it’s with open arms I welcomed the duo to my touch screen.
Other Looney Tunes characters make appearances throughout the levels, usually haphazardly making things a bit more difficult for you in the process. For example, the Tazmanian Devil will swirl out in front of you and accidentally knock over a tree that you quickly must leap over. Or Marvin the Martian will zoom down in his U.F.O. and summon Instant Martians down onto the road. Daffy Duck makes appearances from time to time, running ahead of you to steal your loot. Don’t worry though, if you manage to catch up to Daffy you can slide-tackle him to take back what is rightfully yours.
At first all the character interjections and obstacles seem random, and the effect is fantastic as you truly feel like you’re experiencing the wacky Looney Tunes universe. But as soon as you fail a level and must repeat it (or pay a fee and resume slightly before where you wiped out), you will realize it’s not as off-the-wall crazy as you believed it to be. In fact, it’s all planned out: the levels here are static, not random.
The lack of randomly-generated levels turned out to be both a negative and a positive. For one, it makes learning the levels possible and each time you fail at least you know what to expect the next time you approach that portion of the level. This is great simply because the game limits your consecutive runs (one additional run is added every fifteen minutes, with up to five runs total accumulating over time), so by learning the level’s layouts you become more efficient with each attempt.
The downside of no randomly-generated levels is obvious: repeating content is boring and annoying. Most of the time it wasn’t the actual level itself that defeated me, but my inability to complete the objectives that ultimately caused me to fail a level. Some levels have objectives that require you to destroy X-amount of items, or collect Y-amount of collectables. While I was an ace at dodging falling trees, Wile E.’s traps, and martians, I seldom completed objectives on my first run-through, as I simply did not know where the clusters of objectives would be that I needed to meet the requirements.
So say I’m playing and I run by a solid rock wall that reveals (as I pass by it) collectables behind it. The only way I would be able to get them would have been to know to activate a switch I previously passed in order to raise up a jumping platform that allowed me to leap onto the cliff side, down onto the top of a truck, then off the truck’s roof to collect the power-up which gave me the strength to bust through the rock wall and collect the pile of objectives.
Silly me for not being prepared to do that on the first run through.
Looking at the big picture, this is a mediocre grievance at best. Graphically, the game looks so good that I didn’t protest a second run-through of a level (though third and fourth run-throughs quickly wore on me). It would have been nice if each level run was as surprising as the first time I played through it, but I suspect that the dependable obstacle placement will help many players tackle the more difficult levels. Considering this is a Looney Tunes game, I am positive the target demographic is kids, and by keeping the levels predictable the game is teaching kids to utilize pattern recognition in a fast-paced environment. Which is pretty cool.
Looney Tunes Dash! successfully utilizes the franchise’s iconic characters in exciting ways which keep the gameplay lighthearted and fun. Though replaying a level quickly gets dull thanks to strict objective requirements, the levels as a whole are diverse enough to have kept my interest as they perfectly adhere to the styles one would expect from a Looney Tunes game: fast-paced, looney, fun.