Hands up anoyone who remembers Wakko, Yakko and Dot. Anyone? You at the back? No? Okay, what if we tried singing the theme tune for you. "An-i-man-i-acs! Zany to the max!"
Still no joy? That's hardly surprising, really; not when you consider that cartoon series The Animaniacs - a cross between the classic black and white comedy of The Three Stooges, Looney Tunes at its most surreal, and a cocktail of mostly Class A hallucinogenic drugs - has been out of production for seven years now. Which begs the question: why release a game about them now? Who still cares? No, really, who?
But perhaps we're looking at this too negatively. After all, Scooby Doo is still curling off games like a mastiff on the Guinness and brussels sprouts diet, and he was put down years ago (in cartoon terms). So why not a new Animaniacs game too? Especially if it happens to be a surprisingly playable little budget affair...
The plot, if you can call it that, revolves around evil film producer CC Deville and his stolen cache of Hollywood Edgars (read Oscars). Basically, it boils down to helping Wakko, Yakko and Dot hop, skip and spoof their way across the Warner Bros studio lot in search of the missing silverware. And, well, that's pretty much it really, except to say that each level has its own distinct movie genre 'theme' (Western, Horror and Historical Epic among others), but then you probably guessed that already from the screenshots, right?
Animaniacs' greatest strength is that, while it doesn't do anything particularly new - this is about as predictable as third-person, platform-hopping, item-collecting gameplay gets - what it does do it does well, resulting in a slick, polished, occasionally laugh-out-loud game that manages to pack in a fair helping of the original show's charm. Throw in a surprisingly sharp script and some great voice work from the original Animaniacs cast (come on, it's nice to know they're still getting work these days), and you've got a very appealing little game, even if it does feel like its been released ten years too late.
Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt even has the audacity to 'borrow' a couple of ideas from such venerable gaming heavyweights as The Legend of Zelda, with several areas on each level only accessible once you've managed to acquire specific items from later in the game. And while that does mean the odd bit of backtracking has to be done, handily placed warp points mean it never turns into the tiresome oh-God-I-think-I-might-turn-my-eyes-inside-out-just-so-I-can-look-at-the-back-of-my-brain-instead type of backtracking that seems to plague so many games of this ilk.
So, Animaniacs: not bad, then. And cheap. And sometimes actually funny. While still being massively predictable, though.
What, you want us to sum it up in one easily digestible, yet conveniently throwaway sentence, just like the Animaniacs would? Put it this way then - we've seen a lot worse from the budget kid's platformer scene. A lot worse.
Cheap, cheerful kids' romp, despite the fact that anyone old enough to remember the Animaniacs is probably 42 by now.