Looney Tunes B-Ball (SNES)

Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Sculptured Software | February 1995 | 16 MEGS
Pub: Sunsoft | Dev: Sculptured Software | February 1995 | 16 MEGS

Last night saw the Cleveland Cavaliers pounce the Golden State Warriors, 137-116. It was Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals and we’re back to the infamous 3-1 internet meme. Things are a little different this time around, however. Namely, the Cavs would have to win four straight instead of three, Draymond Green won’t be suspended for Game 5, Steph Curry is healthy and oh yeah, a man by the name of Kevin Durant. Last night’s game got a little, well, looney at times. The refs lost complete control of the game as seven technicals were dealt and even a fan got ejected. Speaking of looney, it made me thought of a dear old childhood SNES favorite of mine, Looney Tunes B-Ball. Best described as the cast of Looney Tunes meets NBA Jam, it’s a shame the game never really achieved the status or notoriety that it should have. So while we wait for the highly anticipated Game 5 Monday night, let’s take a moment to shine the spotlight on one of the better 4 player games on the Super Nintendo.

The battle of the NBA titans
An intense battle of NBA titans
Crank up the drama -- things are getting chippy!
Crank up the drama — things are getting chippy!

TINY TOONS, BIG FUN

One of my favorite Genesis games of all time
One of my favorite Genesis games ever

Growing up in the early ’90s I was blessed to own both the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. While I loved both systems dearly, it was clear that by ’94 the SNES had pulled (way) ahead for me. But one weekend in ’94 I rented Tiny Toons Adventures: ACME All-Stars. It featured a colorful and zany basketball mode that my brother and I absolutely loved. Even though my allegiance in ’94 had switched over to the SNES side, this game reminded me that my old buddy, the Sega Genesis, wasn’t going down without a fight. My bro and I played that basketball mini-game to death that weekend! I remember wishing that someone would make a full game out of it for the SNES. Little did I know, my wish came true some months later with the arrival of Looney Tunes B-Ball. OK, so it featured Looney Tunes instead of Tiny Toons and it was 2 on 2 instead of 3 on 3, but the point remains. It was its own full game! But was it as good as the Genesis one? My brother and I rented a copy pronto in early ’95 to find out for ourselves…

Not only was it good, it was better :)
Not only was it good, it was better :)

THE STORY GOES…

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Daffy Duck: Another day, another ARTISTIC triumph.

Bugs Bunny: Not bad. Think you can keep up in a game o’ hoops?

Daffy: Surely YOU JEST!

Bugs: ^_^

Daffy: Lead the way, rabbit. I’ve got more dunks than a donut shop.

Riveting stuff, really.

Sadly, Aero is NOT a hidden character. What a tease!
Sadly, Aero is not a hidden character. What a tease!
NBA Jam meets Looney Tunes
NBA Jam meets Looney Tunes is a winning formula

OPTIONS

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I love games that allow you to customize, as is the case here. You can play a versus game or partake in a tournament. Up to four can play. The wacky meter determines how crazy your game will be (more on this later). The difficulty is adjustable from levels 1-10 and the quarter length ranges from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10 minutes (I prefer the default 2). If you’re playing with a CPU player, put Follow Mode ON if you want to control whoever has the ball.

It's like an egg hunt except it's a, er, code hunt
It’s like an egg hunt except it’s a, er, code hunt

There’s even a code hunt option. Remember the code craze of that era with games such as Mortal Kombat II and NBA Jam? Yup, it was just a sign of the times!

LOONEY LINEUP

Eat your carrots kids and you too can ball like Bugs!
Eat your carrots kids and you too can ball like him

Bugs is my favorite baller. Sure, he ain’t much of a defender, but boy, can that rabbit shoot. He’s lights out anywhere below the 3 point arc. Although his 3 point rating is only halfway, I find him to be a fairly reliable 3 point hand as well. Plus, he’s Bugs Bunny. He’s the man, er, rabbit. You know what I mean!

His 3 point shot is DETH-PICABLE!
His 3 point shot is DETH-PICABLE!

Poor Daffy can’t shoot 3 pointers to save his life, but the duck is the best defender in town. He’s also a stamina monster. Must be all that cardio he does in-between takes.

Taking a break from wabbit season
Taking a break from wabbit season

There is only one man (almost quite literally) that can match Bugs Bunny shot for shot anywhere on the court sans 3 point land, and it’s Elmer Fudd. When you factor in the 3 point shot as well, he’s much more efficient than the “wabbit.” It’s a shame though the guy is as slow as molasses in January. No wonder he can never catch that bloody rabbit!

Road Runner is sitting this one out
Road Runner is sitting this one out

Like Daffy, Wile E. Coyote can’t shoot 3 point shots for squat, but like the duck again, Wile can run for days. He also possesses above average defense and speed. Pair him up with a shooter to maximize gains.

Not even one full bar?! Taz fans are OUTRAGED :P
Not even one full bar?! Taz fans are OUTRAGED :P

Taz is what you might call a “scrub.” The poor git can’t shoot a lick and is only above average in defense and speed. He’s the only player who doesn’t have at least one full bar. We’ve all seen this type of player at the local YMCA or playground. No real skills, but, bless his heart, always gives 100% effort.

ROCK THAT FU MANCHU, SAM!
ROCK THAT FU MANCHU, SAM!

Arguably the best shooter in the game, Yosemite Sam is quite a fine talent. But just like Elmer, dude can’t outrun a turtle. Dat facial hair tho.

No Tweety Bird here
No Tweety Bird here

His ‘D’ and 3’s are just about nonexistent, but good thing he’s fast and can last for a good length of time. He’s also not a bad shooter at all — as long as it’s below the 3 point arc that is.

He's your guy if you like speed and 3's
He’s your guy if you like speed and 3’s

Marvin is a strange player. He can’t really hit squat anywhere on the court unless it’s beyond the 3 point arc, where he then transforms into Steph Curry. He’s also as fast as a cheetah. If you’re not careful Marvin will be bombing 3 pointers on your head left and right before you even know it!

THE GAME

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Quarters begin with the ball dropping from above. From time to time the ball is replaced with an anvil instead, just to keep players on their toes. Using your turbo will change your character’s avatar from happy to exasperated. How long their turbo can last depends on their stamina rating. Some expire rather fast, which makes the stamina monsters like Daffy, Wile and Sylvester all that much more valuable.

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Similar to other basketball games from that era, release the ball at the peak of your jump for best results. I love the net swishes in this game.

Each character has their own unique layup
Each character has their own unique layup

Do you expect anything else other than zany antics galore?

I prefer slam dunking, myself
I prefer slam dunking, myself

But better than wacky layups are crazy dunks. Though oddly, the dunks in NBA Jam are more wild than the ones found here. Sure you have some nutty 720° dunks, but most are of the “jump really high in the air and come slamming down” variety. Slightly disappointing, but not that big a deal.

You shouldn't be shooting anyway, Taz!
You shouldn’t be shooting anyway, Taz!

It’s really neat how you get a big fat REJECTED sign whenever a shot is blocked. It adds to the taunting and teasing. Few things are as satisfying as timing your opponent’s shot perfectly — to rise up at JUST the right time (not a second late, not a second early) and swat that ball back in their face!

WHAT A MASSACRE
WHAT A MASSACRE

Your final stats are shown at the end. Sadly, assists are not accounted for. Bugs Bunny, the two point extraordinaire, proves it here with 21 makes.

SPECIAL OFFENSIVE PLAYS

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Remember the options screen where you can set the Wacky Meter from 1-5? If you set it anywhere from 2-5 then gems will randomly appear on the court. Grab these gems to earn money. It allows you to use special offensive plays. The “Long Range” special costs 10 cents and lets you launch the ball beyond half court. It’s not an automatic make and also it depends on how good your guy is from 3 point land. But with the Long Range shot the chances are pretty good that it goes in, even from full court! Each character has his own unique Long Range shot. For example, Taz chews up the ball and spits it out. Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, or foot, kicks the basketball like a field goal attempt. Good stuff.

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Feeling lucky? Then for 50 cents (you can only carry a max of 99¢ by the way), pull the lever. If you make the shot and match three icons, you’ll score more points than normal. However, beware the 3 bombs, which will TAKE AWAY 10 points. VEGAS! can completely change the outcome of a tight game in the closing seconds…

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Speaking of wacky, it just wouldn’t be Looney Tunes if cream pies weren’t somehow involved. For 10¢ you can throw a cream pie straight ahead. Your opponent is momentarily stunned if hit, thereby allowing you a clear pathway to the basket. Is there a downside? Well…

OH THE EMBARRASSMENT! But how yummy, too
OH THE EMBARRASSMENT! But how yummy, too
The evil bomb causes a game of HOT POTATO!
The evil bomb causes a game of HOT POTATO!
"THAT'S ALL FOLKS!"
“THAT’S ALL FOLKS!”
Poor Elmer. That wabbit always gets the last laugh
Poor Elmer. That wabbit always gets the last laugh

Remember how in NBA Jam players could be “HEATING UP!” and then “HE’S ON FIRE!” ? Well, the same applies here. After scoring three baskets in a row, YOU’RE IN THE ZONE. Now every stat gets a super boost. It lasts until either the quarter expires or the opposition scores.

Sure you will, playa. Sure ya will!
Sure you will, playa. Sure ya will!
Talk about getting a big head...
Talk about getting a big head… *ba-dum tish*

NBA Jam sure didn’t have this though eh? Imagine how freaking cool it would have been to see Muggsy Bogues’ mug plastered at mid-court. Or maybe not.

SPECIAL DEFENSIVE PLAYS

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Additionally, each character has a unique special defensive play that will cost 25¢ (only available on Wacky Meter Level 2 or higher). These unique defensive plays don’t guarantee success but it sure increases your odds — particularly since there are no stinkin’ foul calls to be found here! For example, Daffy busts out the jackhammer and causes the ground to shake so hard that the player drops the ball (unless he’s in the act of shooting). Taz breaks into a tornado spin and knocks down anyone he touches. It all adds to the zany fun of the game, not to mention the strategy.

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Personal favorite goes to Wile E. Coyote, who really gets a BANG out of using ACME products. The Detonator Defense blows up the person with the ball, leaving it up for grabs. NBA Jam sure didn’t have this!

Just another day at the office
Just another day at the office
Yes, Taz got ball.... FOR NOW...
Yes, Taz got ball… FOR NOW…

Why is Elmer sporting some opera garb there? And what sort of foul manner is he conjuring?

Elmer's mug says it all, and so too will yours
Elmer’s mug says it all, and so too will yours

OUCH! Being struck by lightning will ruin anyone’s day. And doesn’t Elmer look like a WILD THING there? Max and Maurice Sendak would be proud ^_^

Er, wait. I see Taz. I see Sam. Um, where's Sly?
Er, wait. I see Taz. I see Sam. Um, where’s Sly?

Marvin gets into the act with his Disintegrator Defense zapping what unlucky soul stands before him.

ZOINKS!
ZOINKS!
Sam's Dance Defense can only be done at close range
Sam’s Dance Defense can only be done up close
Shenanigans galore...
Shenanigans galore…

Bugs Bunny’s Disguise Defense is trickery at its finest.

But the same can't be said for egos and friendships!
The same can’t be said for egos and friendships…

Sly gets the final laugh with his Remote Control Defense. When activated, a 16 TON weight drops on whoever has the ball. Talk about a massive headache!

THE SHOT HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD

... or not
… or not

Thanksgiving 2010 was one for the ages. It started out as a simple family night spent with my cousins, nieces and nephews. Toward the end of the night my brother and cousins began discussing Black Friday plans. Having participated the year before, I didn’t care to do it again. So I went home and fired up Looney Tunes B-Ball around the witching hour. I cranked up the difficulty level to the max (10). And it turned out to be the most epic game ever. Coming down to the final closing seconds, I was up 37 to 36. The computer had the ball with about five seconds to go. Elmer Fudd began dribbling down the court. Knowing that he had to heave a half court prayer, I timed my leap of faith with Daffy Duck. Sure enough, Elmer began his shooting motion for the half court prayer. And at the exact same time, I also rose. What happened next was one of the record books…

OOOH! DENIED AND REJECTED! CLUTCHNESS!!
OOOH, DENIED AND REJECTED!
Oh crap, Elmer got the ball right back...
Oh noes, Elmer gets the ball right back…

However, the ball came right back to Elmer with a second left on the clock. OH CRAP! I desperately jumped back up as Elmer gave it one last heave. Look at Daffy trying his damnedest there. Unfortunately, I jumped too early and Elmer managed to release the ball with 0.1 left on the clock! This would be a brutal loss to suffer. The ball flew through the air as time froze and the buzzer sounded…

Nice try, pal!
NO GOOD!

The ball bounced hard off the left side of the rim. WOW, WHAT A FINALE. One of those rare moments in gaming where you just sit back for a second staring at the screen in disbelief. What a game, and what a night. Kiss my ass, Black Friday!

WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

stevecoll80

Sadly, Looney Tunes B-Ball didn’t receive much publicity back in the day. GameFan featured it in a lovely two page preview in January 1995 but they never reviewed it. When you consider the fact that this game and the mega popular NBA Jam: Tournament Edition were both released in February of 1995, it’s easy to see how Looney Tunes B-Ball slipped through the cracks. It’s a shame it wasn’t released a few months prior because it would have made a killing during the holiday season of ’94. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Regardless, it’s one of those games that fly under the radar but ask anyone who has ever played it and you’re sure to hear only good things in response.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Boys, I sure hate to break this to y'all but...
Boys, I sure hate to break this to y’all but…

Looney Tunes B-Ball is plain fun and zany. It’s very customizable — you can play a serious straight up game or make it as ridiculous as you want by cranking that wacky meter to the max. I mean, where else can you drop 16 ton ACME weights out of the sky, play the Vegas slots, cross dress, throw cream pies and disintegrate folks into a pile of dust? It really is NBA Jam meets Looney Tunes. OK so maybe the basketball isn’t the best around. You can’t expect that from this type of game. That’s not to say it isn’t functional, though. Far from it! It plays very well, just not at the level of a pure basketball sim. And if that’s what you’re after then look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a fast, crazy, fun street ball type basketball game, this will scratch that itch and then some. It’s not a deep game by any means. There’s no stat-tracking or 82 game seasons here. All you have is a simple versus mode and a tournament. But when a game is as fun as Looney Tunes B-Ball is, that’s really all you need. If you can round up three buddies, it only gets that much better. Be prepared though for some bruised egos…

[Really? REALLY? -Ed.]
[Really? REALLY? -Ed.]
From all the cool special defensive measures to all the wacky and silly offensive techniques, Looney Tunes B-Ball comes recommended to any and all basketball fans. Even if you don’t particularly care for the sport, if you like fun fast-paced party games in general then this is worth a look. Its appeal goes beyond basketball. It’s a perfect example of what I like to call a sleeper hit. It never got much press and praise back in the day, but behind closed doors everyone I knew growing up loved it. If you’ve dismissed this game for whatever reason without giving it a fair shake before, don’t hesitate to give it a chance. It’s simple, competitive and straight up looney. Featuring those timeless and iconic cartoon characters, it also stands the test of time. The likes of Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing have faded and given rise to current day stars such as LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Bugs Bunny will never go out of style. If you’re looking for a fun-filled NBA Jam alternative, you’ve found it here.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Longevity: 8.5

AwardsOverall: 8.0
Silver Award

 

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