Tiny Toon Adventures (NES) Review

The Short


– Fun, basic platformer

– Very solid controls keep gameplay tight

– Able to switch between a variety of ‘toons from the show

– Graphics are great, as is (most) of the music


– Quite difficult

– Getting 1ups out of collecting carrots (coins) requires watching a lengthy trade in process

– Only have one hit (unless you find a rare heart) and you are dead

– The first few levels have the Tiny Toons theme repeating over, and over, and over…

– A bit too Mario 3 for its own good

– Short

They’re tiny, they’re toony…wait, toony? Is that even a word?

The Long

Ah, Tiny Toons. I watched a chunky amount of this show during my childhood. It always amazed me that a show that was pretty much the Muppet Babies or A Pup Named Scooby Doo equivalent of the famous Loony Toons characters ended up being both unique and successful. I have rather fond memories of the show (as well as the theme song gets stuck in your head forever), of Buster Bunny and the…rest of them (does anybody really remember the rest of the characters?).

But somehow, nestled in this brain of mine, was a weird memory: a Tiny Toons NES game? Thinking back none of my friends or family owned it, and this was before hey-day of emulators. So where do these weird memories come from?

Well, it doesn’t matter now, because I’ve grabbed a cart and blasted through Tiny Toons Adventures on the NES. And guess what? It’s a pretty good game, if really unforgiving.

This game just screams Mario 3.

The “plot” to Tiny Toons Adventures is that Montana Max kidnapped Babes. I only know this because I looked up a different review on Gamefaqs that told me that. It’s a generic “save the girl/princess” story that video games still can’t seem to get away from, but hey…if it ain’t broke don’t think of something original or interesting to take its place. It’s also weird because in the show Babes was the only one who had it together while everybody else was drooling idiots, but hey…you gotta market the game to a target demo or something? Whatever, don’t care.

Regardless, Tiny Toons Adventures is really your standard platformer, insomuch as to say it’s Mario 3. So I’ll make this review easy on myself. You know how in Mario 3 you jump on the heads of enemies to kill them? You do that in Tiny Toons Adventures. You know how in Mario 3 on an incline you can press “down” to slide, taking out baddies and getting more speed? You do that in Tiny Toons Adventures. You know how in Mario 3 you have only one hit and getting an extra hit is extremely difficult? Well…wait, no? Oh, yeah. Well, Tiny Toons Adventures is like that.

Floatin’ around.

But before I get to the difficulty, let’s point out a few other differences between this game and Mario 3. First, you play primarily as Buster, but you can also pick between Plucky, Dizzy, or Furball as a backup. Randomly in the levels you’ll find balls with stars that’ll switch between Buster and your chosen backup character. The backup characters have unique moves: Plucky can hover mid-air if you mash the jump button, Dizzy can spin forward in an attack, and Furball can cling to the sides of walls. Buster’s only real ability is he’s fast and can jump the highest, so swapping him out is usually the best plan. The controls for each character are intuitive and the game feels good, which says a lot about an NES era platformer.

There are a few other minor differences. Aside from the multiple characters, the game also…um…well, now that I think about it, this game is pretty standard in terms of platforming. It never really mixes things up too heavily, but to be honest it doesn’t have to. The level design is reasonably solid throughout, the controls feel great and the multiple characters are just icing on the cake. So in that regard, it’s a good game.

Then you realize how hard this bastard is.

That’s for me to know and you to find out.

Maybe “hard” is the wrong word. “Punishing” might be more accurate. See, in Tiny Toons Adventures you get one hit. One single hit, and you are out and start the level over, sans a life. You can find random heart items in the level, but they are usually well hidden and very sparse. That means that a single mistake and you are back to square one.

While this isn’t that bad for the first half of the game, during the latter portions things start getting cheap. Enemies pop out of nowhere and without warning, meriting level memorization if you ever plan on beating the game. Projectiles fly everywhere, and jumps get trickier. While this would have been manageable with maybe two or three hits, with just one (two if you are lucky) you are going to die. A lot.

I have never seen anyone so excited about carrots.

There are also a few obnoxious little things that will frustrate players of that other 2D platformer where you can slide down hills and pick up coins/carrots. Collecting carrots doesn’t earn you 1ups right off the bat; you have to find a secret room with Hamton on every level and cash them in. Every 30 gives you a life, but the fact you have to watch Hamton’s stupid speech explaining the cash-in process every time is a chore.

Another minor niggle is that the first boss is a beginner’s trap. Elmyra (who I don’t remember at all from the show) runs back and forth trying to grab you. At first you think you are supposed to jump on her (like every enemy) but this kills you, and not only that doesn’t send you back to the checkpoint…you start the whole world over. Awesome. Turns out you are supposed to just dodge her until the exit magically shows up. Thanks for explaining that one, Konami.

Buster’s got 99 problems, but an Elmyra ain’t one.

The game graphically looks quite good. While it isn’t exactly a pillar of pixel art, I really dig the cartoony and clean look of everything. Colors mesh nicely, each character has a unique color scheme, and the levels are appealing to look at. I’d honestly say it’s one of the better looking NES games, if only for it’s clean design.

I also like the music, with one caveat (or “carrot-e-ot”…ok, that worked out funnier in my head). As much as I love the Tiny Toons theme song (and I love it, trust me), hearing it over and over in the first level was awesome the first couple of times (kind of like hearing the Duck Tales theme on the NES), but after a while I was about to go insane. Especially because it never resolves into the “And now our song is done” line from the intro of the show. Maddening.

Hangin’ on walls.

As it stands, Tiny Toons Adventures is a decent NES platformer that probably could have been a great one had Konami put just a little more thought into it. The character-swapping idea is really cool (something used in Mario 2 and later in Super Meat Boy) and the game controls wonderfully, it’s just both too hard and too short to really be a classic.

That being said, considering NES games aren’t exactly pricy, Tiny Toons Adventures is still worth picking up if you are an old school NES collector. It’s a fun diversion and a good challenge to test your mettle against, and despite it’s setbacks I really think it’s a solid NES platformer.

I can’t believe I’m giving it the same score as stupid Karnov, but that’s what happens when you use a 0-5 scale. Three out of five stars. 

Though both Karnov and Buster are blue, so I guess that works?

Author: Nathan Major

Spirit Shark: Hammerhead. Retro game collector, true ginger, and SNES fanatic. Goal in life is to become Karnov from the NES game Karnov.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *