Title  : Looney Tunes Space Race
Platforms  : Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation 2
Publisher  : Infogrames
ESRB Rating  : Everyone
Game Rating  : 5.9
Review by  : Ken Gagne

It seems we are just now realizing the boringly-repetitive effects of Nintendo's 1992 smash hit, Super Mario Kart. 

Mario Kart featured cute characters racing obstacle-laden courses and battling each other with turtle shells and banana peels. The wackiness and variety was a welcome change from more realistic racing games. 

Nowadays, everyone is getting in on the kart-racing action, from South Park to the Muppets, with little to distinguish themselves from other racing games. But I thought I'd give my old friend Bugs Bunny a chance to stand apart from the crowd in Looney Tunes Space Race, a Sega Dreamcast game from Infogrames. Bugs, Sylvester, Daffy, and other cartoon favorites invite up to four players to join in a racing game that lacks some essential qualities. (This game is also available as Space Race for PlayStation 2) 

Such as the need for skill. Video kart racing is normally a highly competitive sport, with victory going to whoever has mastery over the available weaponry. In Space Race, mastery isn't possible, as skill isn't necessary. The gags are appropriately loony, from portable holes to falling pianos, yet require only a button press to use effectively. Attacks are automatically aimed, and either hit or miss. 

This version of kart racing lacks another important ingredient: interesting courses. The seven tracks may have loony backgrounds, but there's nothing to challenge the player. Not only are the simple twists and jumps too generic for what's supposed to be a space race, they're too boring for any speedway. 

But at least the tracks look good, with animation that is incredibly smooth and cartoon-like. The vistas that scroll by could have been lifted right from the imagination of Chuck Jones. 

The audio is also true to its source, if somewhat repetitious. Foghorn Leghorn offers the occasional wisecrack on the race's progress, while each racer throws unique taunts and jeers at his fellow 'toons. Their limited repertoire quickly makes you feel as though you've heard them as often as you've seen their fifty-year-old cartoons — except Space Race isn't as funny. 

If the mere seven tracks don't have you coming back for more, maybe the added features will. Victories earn ACME Tokens, which can be spent unlocking ACME Events — racing events with added pitfalls. Success in these events adds items to the Gallery, such as gag blueprints and cartoon stills. Despite these other game modes, there is no battle mode for players to duke it out — often the best part of a good racing game. 

Looney Tunes Space Race is an appropriate game for younger players, who will find little to worry and plenty to laugh about. Gamers looking for a more enthralling title will find plenty wrong with this one. Is there a doctor in the house? 


This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 01-Jan-01