Animaniacs: Lights, Camera, Action (DS)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, September 25, 2005

Graphics: 5.50
Sound: 5.50
Gameplay: 4.50
Replays: 4.00

When you release a DS game, it really helps to make use of the stylus so that gamers will feel that the DS was worth purchasing in the first place. Unfortunately, Animaniacs for the DS fails to do that. In fact, there are only two key differences from the GBA version, so I am going to list them now and then essentially use the same words to describe this version.

The two differences are as follows. First, you can now have 4 player Arena Battles, compared to the 2 player limit on the GBA cart. Not only that, but you can do the multiplayer with only one cart, so only one person needs to own the cart. This is a fun diversion, and you may as well make use of it if you’re going to own the game. Secondly, the second DS screen is used to display how many items you’ve collected. This is unfortunately a waste of the screen, and you likely won’t be looking at it too often.

Graphically the game isn’t all that bad, but players will be left wondering exactly why the developers decided to make the game look as it does. The in-game camera is essentially done at an isometric viewpoint. This makes the game areas wide open compared to some other platformers, but a little hard to navigate, and it also ends up making the control suffer as well. Levels themselves don’t look horrible as there is a relatively nice amount of detail in all the elements, but it still isn’t enough to make the game stand above other GBA platformers.

There isn’t a whole lot to talk about in terms of sound. One positive point is that the background music for each level does match the movie theme it is going for. Sound effects are also whacky and fit the lighthearted feeling the game is trying to create.

Lights, Camera, Action involves the Animaniacs shooting three types of movies to make up for the debt they have caused Warner Brothers. So all of the levels involve traversing and completing objectives based on these movie environments. All of the levels involve a horror movie, a sci-fi movie, or a pirate movie. Throughout the game you will use a variety of characters as well, each with their own abilities (Pinky can’t jump, Dot can double jump etc.) One plus is that there is no shortage of lives, anytime you get hit and die there are plenty of checkpoints to restart from. You also have to worry about time (represented by the amount of film left at the top of the screen), but it isn’t that hard to get more.

Gameplay seems to devolve into the standard platformer elements we see far too often; collect items such as keys or other objects to unlock doors, defeat enemies, and pull switches to start jumping puzzles. It’s unfortunate that this feels so generic, as so much more could have been done. Sure, the small DDR style mini-game you play when switching characters breaks things up, but even that gets old. And the gameplay is made a little harder by awkward control, brought on by the aforementioned isometric viewpoint. There is also a multiplayer Arena Battle aspect to the game for 2 players using a link cable, and this is a mildly exciting diversion that is a little fun. As if to add insult to injury, when you beat a level you discover the game uses a password system. That’s right, no on cart saves, you have to go and write down passwords. If I’m not mistaken, I thought password system based games went away years ago, but maybe I’m wrong.

The Nintendo DS version of Animaniacs could have been used to improve the mediocre GBA one and make a relatively fun game. Instead, the developers have added two real differences and released the game all over again, and it doesn’t work well. The game isn’t really worth picking up, as there are much better uses for your DS.

Overall Rating: 5.00

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