Tiny Toon Adventures: Plucky's Big Adventure PlayStation Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on July 26, 2002
It's Resident Evil Without The Zombies!

Tiny Toon Adventures: Plucky's Big Adventure (PBA) is a "hunt and gather"-type puzzle game just like Resident Evil (RE). In both games you have to find an item, use it in conjunction with something else, and then take it someplace to complete a puzzle or objective. In RE you have an inventory capable of holding eight to ten items, in PBA you can only hold two items at a time (one for each hand, I guess). In RE there are Item Boxes which can hold 50 or more items (I don't know the exact count), in PBA you have a locker which can hold nine items (although each character has his/her own color-coded locker and combination, they can use each others lockers and the items in the lockers are shared). If this seems like PBA is a bit deprived, keep in mind that in PBA you don't need weapons, ammo, herbs, and health items.

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Every game needs a danger element, and this one is no exception. Instead of zombies and other assorted creatures which you can mutilate with a vast arsenal of weapons like in RE, you have Elmyra and Montana Max who patrol five of the six hallways in an attempt to catch you (luckily they don't venture into the hall with the lockers or any of the rooms). If they catch you, you have to quickly press left and right on the D-pad (or jiggle the analog stick left and right) in order to break free of their grasp. If they grab you too many times, your character will be captured and it's up to the previously character you played as to rescue them. You start playing as Plucky Duck, then Hampton J. Pig, Babs Bunny, and finally Buster Bunny (no relation). If Buster gets captured, you have to play as Babs to rescue him before resuming play as Buster ... and so on. If Plucky gets captured, then it's game over. You have no weapons and no defense again Elmyra and Montana Max. You just simply have to avoid them.

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GAMEPLAY

The controls are pretty solid. I had no problem at all moving the character around, avoiding Elmyra and Montana Max (ducking into another room and coming back out also helped), picking up and using items (though there was one or two items which gave me problems). The controls that deal with your inventory may be awkward at first (especially if you're used to RE control), but they're very easy to get used to. By the way, I chose to play with the D-pad (I turned off the analog mode on the controller), so I can't comment on how well the stick handles.

Some of the puzzles are easy, and some are really hard. I had to resort to a walkthrough in a few places ... not something you'd expect to do with a Tiny Toon Adventures game. Thankfully the environment (the school [aka Looniversity]) isn't as large as the RE environments, so when you have to do some backtracking, you're not going from one end of the world to the other.

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The gameplay definitely surprised me when I first loaded up the game. I bought it expecting a traditional platformer like most of the other Tiny Toon games from the past (most notably the ones from Konami). It was very refreshing to play a different style of game with the Tiny Toons characters.

STORY

The story, which is loosely based on the episode "A Ditch In Time" (available on the Season 1, Volume 1 DVD set), involves you finding parts for a time machine so that Plucky can travel back in time to do the homework he didn't do. Unfortunately that's the only element of the episode which was carried over into the game, which is why the game is so darn short. If you've seen the episode, you know the ending. If you haven't seen the episode, you can probably guess the ending. Sadly, the ending isn't very spectacular (I've seen better endings on old NES games). You will undoubtedly be very disappointed once you see it.

AUDIO/VIDEO

The familiar Tiny Toons theme is present (in instrumental form, of course), and the background music during the game is quite fitting and cartoony. However, that's all there is (save for a few odd sound effects). There is absolutely no character voices whatsoever! Couldn't they shell out a few bucks to have the original voice cast come in and record a few lines? The lack of character voices isn't too bad for Plucky, Hampton, Babs, and Buster; but when you have to constantly have to press X to scroll through Elmyra and Montana Max's dialogue every time you encounter them, it gets to be downright annoying. The only bright side is that by having the game pause for you to press X, you'll have ample time to decide where to go to avoid Elmyra & Montana Max. (Having voices, instead of the game pausing, would have increased the danger!)

The game looks as good as you'd expect for a 3-D Playstation 1 game. The character graphics are, of course, not the best in the world, but they suffice quite nicely. It's a few steps above the character graphics and animation in Scooby-Doo And The Cyber Chase for the Playstation 1 (the beginning cut scene in Scooby-Doo is unintentionally funny).

REPLAYABILITY

This is where the game fails BIG TIME! Once you've beaten the game, there is nothing left to do. There is no reason whatsoever to replay it (unless you want to "relive the experience" all over again). The Resident Evil games gave you alternate clothing and a bonus mini-game. This game gives you zip.

TO BUY OR TO RENT?

I picked this game out from the $10 bargain bin at Target. I chose it because it was a Tiny Toons game. I always liked the tv show and the previous games, so I figured that this would be a nice addition to my collection. Had I known what type of game it was and how short it was, I never would have picked it out. I don't hate it, but since it has no replayability, I doubt that I'll ever play it again.

Whether you like "hunt and gather" puzzle games or Tiny Toon Adventures, I don't see any reason why you'd want to do more than rent it.

Signatures of the Stars Book Review

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This review was originally written on March 10, 2001
I See Dead People ... Too Many Of Them!

I bought "Signatures of the Stars: A Guide for Autograph Collectors, Dealers and Enthusiasts" by Kevin Martin to learn about the stars signing habits and see example of their signatures, so I'd know which stars would be my best bet to write to. Unfortunately, most of the stars listed in this book are DEAD! It does me no good to know the signing habits of dead celebs, since I obviously can't write to them. I bought the book in conjunction with the same author's "The Autograph Collector Celebrity Autograph Authentication Guide." While there are some signature examples in this book that aren't in the authentication guide (such as John Candy and Kathy Ireland), finding them is quite a pain because this book lacks an index. The authentication guide has an index, and practically doesn't need it because it's much better laid out than this book. The back cover of this book says that inside "you'll find the actual signatures of the stars reproduced". While that's true for most of the stars, there are very few reproductions to none at all when you get to the back of the book, in the "cast" and "Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame" sections. There should be authentic examples for *everyone* that is listed. To sum up this book, I think that it's trying to be too many things to too many people - price guide, authentication guide, and more ... it should stick to just one subject.

The Autograph Collector Celebrity Autograph Authentication Guide Book Review

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This review was originally written on March 10, 2001
BOOK OF ADS ... and celebrity autograph authentication guide

The first thing you'll notice about The Autograph Collector Celebrity Autograph Authentication Guide by Kevin Martin, the minute you open it up to page 1, are the ads. That's right, this book has *advertisements* in it. But not just a few ads, 25 FULL PAGES OF ADVERTISEMENTS! The ads clutter up the front and back of the book, which makes it a pain to quickly locate the index at the back of the book (placed right before all the ads). What good is an index if it itself requires a little bit of searching to find?!? The ads are mostly for companies selling autographed photos. A list of these companies should have been put at the back of the book (before the index) for those who are interested. Putting full-page and half-page ads is ridiculous. Because of all the ads, I feel that this book should be free, or at least cost less than half of what it currently sells for.

Now that let me get to the REAL content of the book - the autograph examples. The book lists many, many stars, including a few I was surprised to see (Melanie Chartoff and Ray Parker Jr., for example), but there are also many that are missing which should have been in there (Samantha Mathis and Hayley Mills, for example). Granted, I know that it is virtually impossible to list every celebrity that ever existed, but they could have made the autograph examples a little smaller and fit more people in there. In fact, there are some pages where there is only one or two examples on the entire page. Heck, come to think of it, the text in the introductory lessons to authenticating autographs is way too large. It should have been shrunken down to standard size, so that more autograph examples could be placed in the book. Also, it would have been a great idea to put, at least, two examples of each star's autograph in the book, just to account for variations in the way a person signs (no person signs his/her name exactly the same way every time).

All griping aside, this is actually a great book and I *am* glad that I bought it. The ads are a pain to deal with (I'm tempted to rip them out, but I don't want to ruin the book), but I guess nothing in life is perfect. At least now you have a little more information about this book than I did when I purchased it.

Trash or Treasure Guide To Buyers Book Review

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This review was originally written on October 13, 2000
Got Stuff Made Before 1970? Buy The Book. Otherwise, Forget It

I bought "Trash or Treasure - Guide To Buyers" by Tony Hyman because I have a lot of 1980s and 1990s action figures, comic books, magazines, trading cards, and the such. I was hoping to finally find someone to sell them to. Well, I contacted some people listed in the book, and ... I've still got the stuff. If you have something made before 1970, this book may be of use to you. But if your stuff was made after 1970, don't waste your money on this UNCOMPREHENSIVE book. Hey, Tony Hyman, how about writing/compiling a separate volume covering items made after 1970?