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Up from (Super) Obscurity

Have the Looney Toons ever appeared in a good Nintendo or Super Nintendo game? Darned if I know! It seems like those Merry Melodies cartoon characters have ended up in a series of license cash-ins that define the term "take the money and run" to the point that it would make the Steve Miller Band vomit, then roll over in their grave, and then throw up again because hey! They're rolling in grave vomit! Don't blame me, though; I'm just reporting what the facts is.
With that in mind...or, actually, not. Please just forget the entire proceeding paragraph, and let's look at Taz the Tasmanian Devil as he attempts to beat the game quality odds in the run-along-desert-highways-eating-birds-'em-up game, Taz-Mania!
Test Audiences liked this idea a lot better than, say, Data from Star Trek in Taz-mania
Like another of the Tasmanian Devil's hemisphere-syblings, the duck-billed platypus, this game is mish-mash of mismatched parts:
  1. Mode 7 Racing
  2. Running around and hopping
  3. Being a Tasmanian Devil
  4. Collecting a set number of things
I dare say that this is the only game which combines all of these classic gaming elements into one convenient game cartridge!
I should note that I crossed out #3 on the list above ("Being a Tasmanian Devil") because I felt that it was too narrow to be truly considered a "category" of game. This isn't to imply that you AREN'T a Tasmanian Devil in this game, because you most certainly are (or at least, you are purportedly a cartoon character version of a Tasmanian Devil; I guess if Elmer Fudd is supposed to represent a human being, then Taz might as well represent a Tasmanian Devil).
What kind of game ARE you?
But it these lead to some amount of goal confusion: traditionally, a Racing involves going fast:
Quite fast indeed, actually -- such is the emphasis on speed that most racing games involve getting to from point A to point B faster than someone else (like other racers) or something else (like a timer).
Not so, here! Taz is running through the middle of the street, and there is a timer, but he has no chance or inclination to outrun the road's other occupants. Though he'd be best advised to AVOID them, because the highways of Tazmania seem to be lousy with tour buses and wart hogs driving while talking on a cellphone car-phone, both of which are easily capable of crushing our erstwhile hero.
IF ONLY THEY'D PASS LAWS REGULATING THIS. I mean, really; what kind of island nation allows creatures without fingers to buy car phones and personalized plates? That's sheer tomfoolery!
Similarly, a Running and Hopping game usually requires you to jump about from cliff to cliff, and/or attack things.
But here, while you CAN jump, you're very seldom required to leap over stuff. Sure, sometimes there's a river running through the entire center of the screen and road (?!?) and one of your options to get by is to leap over it, 3-D Worldrunner-style, but that's about it.
Also, you're not going to be doing a lot of attacking, because your two offensive maneuvers are:
Taz Dust-Devil Freakout™,
complete with BUZZSAW NOISES and SPITTY SNORTING©
...and trying to shove things into your very mouth!
And just what might Taz be trying to shovel into his cavernous maw? Why, BIRDS, of course! Whether they're adorable Blue Birds or Red Birds flitting through the air above Taz's comically over-sized head,
or the next-most common birds in the Tasmanian countryside -- Kiwis riding a donut like its a wheel!
But rest assured, Taz won't stop until he's attempted to insert avian in sight into his huge mouth!
And that, my friends, brings us to the actual victory conditions of this odd little game:
It's an "Eat A Set Number of Kiwis" game!
Each level has a number of kiwis which Taz must swallow before he decides to stop running down the middle of the busy highway.
Yes, Taz's great hunger can be briefly assuaged by Blue Birds and Red Birds, but can only be satisfied by the Kiwi-and-Donut combo meal deal!
And what does our Tasmanian Devil protagonist do when he's eaten his limit of flightless birds and breakfast pastry? Well, let's see if you're as clever as the designers of this game...why not hazard a guess from these options below?
Does he:
  1. ...have a cup of coffee and does the crossword puzzle?
  2. ...go to the next level, preferably after GETTING EQUIPPED with ELEC-BEAM?
  3. Being a Tasmanian Devil Damn you, copy-and-paste!
  4. ...pass out and vomit profusely?
If you said "D", give yourself a gold star!
Yes, at the end of each level a stuffed-to-the-gills Taz passes out! This allows all the birds that he shoved down his throat (who are all evidently still alive) to make their dramatic escape!
...and it's as confusing as it is revolting!
In Conclusion...
It's not a bad game, all told. Once you get the hang of it -- you've figured out that you're not necessarily trying to run the fastest or the farthest, and your "tornado/buzzsaw spin" slowly drains your health but lets you rapidly jet towards your next Kiwi-Donut date while blasting through all the road-side obstacles -- it gets kind of fun:
You can dodge the traffic, pick up the occasional blue bird or red bird to replenish your health (and increase your timer as well, in the case of the rarer red birds). Then when your "Taz Radar" shows that there's a yellow bird nearby, you can break out of Tornado-Warp-Speed and try to grab it. If you over-run it, you can wait or back-track to see it zip by again, or you can just keep going: you can always find another!
All in all, I think Taz summarizes the game most astutely:
Mr. Manian Devil, you've said a mouthful.
— carlmarksguy, 2012-05-18
1
I've heard that the Genesis version has more to do that running into the background. It also has platforming, as well as a pretty good sequel.
2
TAZ HATE PLATFORMERS! Oh wait, no, that's me...I try to only review non-platformer, non-space-shooter games here because they have to blaze bold new trails into Bad Game History!
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