GAME REVIEW: 'Acme Arsenal' sings few Merrie Melodies

With the release of "Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal," Bugs Bunny and his band of mischief 'toons make their debut on the Wii and Xbox 360 game systems, as well as the last-generation Playstation 2. Although the game is clearly geared towards a younger demographic, I figured my years of watching Merrie Melodies classics and even the short-lived "Tiny Toon Adventures" would have provided me some sense of nostalgia. Unfortunately, after playing through the game twice all I was left with was a feeling of regret that I spent so much time on the title.

Supposedly based on the late 1940s through '50s cartoons "Hair-Raising Hare," "Water, Water Every Hare," "Knighty Knight Bugs," "Drip-Along Daffy," "Bugs Bunny Rides Again," "Hareway to the Stars," "Bedevilled Rabbit," "Duck Amuck" and "Big House Bunny," the only similarities to these Looney Tunes' originals are the settings and the characters. The sharp, often-controversial writing of the Merrie Melodies cartoons is sacrificed for a bland story of a mad scientist who wants to rid history of all references to the Looney Tunes with an ACME eraser. In order to stop the scientist, the Tunes band together - even the often villainous Gossamer and Marvin the Martian - to build a time machine of their own and stop his robots from "erasing" the Tunes' ancestors.

Although the lackluster story behind "Acme Arsenal" is a major drawback to the appeal of the game, the biggest problem lies with the gameplay. Being a fan of "Resident Evil 4" and "Gears of War," I am quite comfortable playing third-person shooters, but the glitchy environment in which "Acme Arsenal" is set provides a less-than-appealing experience. While navigating through any given level, the gamer finds himself trapped in awful clipping paths where you're staring at the backside of a wall rather than the character's view point. There was even one such case in the Low Noon level when I found Bugs sinking into a rock like quicksand. Now I don't claim to be a geologist, but I'm pretty sure (especially in a videogame) you can't sink into sandstone.

The clipping also often caused the camera to position so that it was difficult to see who and where I was battling - or, I should say, button mashing. The game is not challenging enough for this to be a major issue, but still caused undeserved frustration that should have been avoided from the developer's standpoint. It could be said that the solution to being "trapped" behind walls is to move the camera, but that was often a whole other task because certain environments seldom allowed movement around solid objects.

Rest assured the entire game is not all terrible. Actually three of the missions are fun enough that I've gone back and played them again to only better my times. These missions involve navigating through the levels on either a spacecraft or a World War I two-seater motorcycle in vehicle-based action. In the latter, Foghorn Leghorn and Taz must drive through a battlefield while dodging attacks, jumping over barbed wire and blowing up blockades. None of these missions offer much of a challenge other than reaching timed checkpoints, however they are the only aspects of the game that are appealing for repeat gaming.

It is obvious through just the characters that "Acme Arsenal" is targeted at younger gamers; and it may provide a level of excitement appealing enough to attract those users. But for those of us who long for the Looney Tunes of yore, gaming is not the outlet you should be searching.

While I certainly experienced my fair share of action in the driver's seat of Foghorn's motorcycle, too many bugs (not the bunny) and a jaded storyline weigh this title down, 1.5 out of 5