Tom and Jerry Tales (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
It would be difficult to think of a better known, not to mention longer established duo in the world of animation than Tom and Jerry. It was something that almost all of us watched as children. The cartoons themselves started out in the 1940s and were produced by MGM (under the watchful eye of Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera) to play alongside their movies. They ran for an impressive 17 years and then a host of other studios and animators, including Chuck Jones, took their turn in bringing these much loved characters back to our screens. This new GBA and DS outing marks a new direction for the cat and mouse duo but, as with everything else from your childhood, is it as good as you remember it?
Your main objective as Jerry is to get Tom thrown out of the house by convincing his owners that he's not the kind of cat that belongs in a family setting. It takes place over six rooms, each split into four different modes. Not all of these are available at the game's start and you may have to clear a level or discover a bonus item in order to unlock further levels. Possibly closest to the 'spirit' of the original cartoons is the 'Touch' Mode, so called because this is exactly what you must do. Most of the game plays out in front of you, as a cartoon, and only requires you to interact at various points. You may need to spin a wheel or destroy an obstacle but as long as you do this correctly Tom will never catch you although he will damage the house in the process meaning he's out of favor with the owners. 'Timed' and 'Speed' are very similar with one challenging you to get around a track in the room in the shortest possible time whilst the latter has you flying around the same room (thanks to a jet pack) attempting to collect an allotted amount of rings whilst also keeping your new found mode of transport fuelled up. Finally there's the 'Break' section, where you are again on a fixed path, only this time using the stylus to aim pieces of cheese at vases, bottles, records and hideous china cats.
All this is done from Jerry's hideout, which can be decorated from the proceeds of each mission. This allows you to fit out his pad with a better couch, more comfortable bed and a rather bizarre purple dinosaur. This bit does seem like an afterthought though and unlocking clips or artwork would have been a much better way to go here. Finally, there is some replay value, thanks to the high score chart on each of the games but to be honest there's little incentive to revisit them once you played and completed them once.
The control can actually be quite problematic but not because it's not responsive or particularly confusing. Its biggest problem is trying to use the traditional control system in conjunction with the stylus, which does become a bit of a handful. You may be able to work around this but there's no escaping the fact that it's not the most comfortable game to play. Especially after 30 minutes or so.
Well, you have to congratulate the developers on managing to capture the 'feel' of the original cartoon even if the visuals aren't quite as beautiful as the Hanna Barbera original. Instead the art department has taken a more graphical approach, which does seem to work throughout the game. The animation is also one of the stronger elements of the game especially the cut-screens that set up some of the story lines.
Over the years I have described many games as having a kind of 'Tex Avery' soundtrack and here the description couldn't be more appropriate. If you've ever watched an episode of the cat and mouse animation you'll know just what I mean; breaking glass, skids, collisions, it's all here, no doubt designed by the Acme company. Obviously they don't speak, and nor should they, in keeping with the original animation.
While you can select many options using the stylus its most important 'in-game' feature is in the 'Break' section of each room where you must use it to aim at a variety of household items. The other is the 'Touch' Mode mentioned earlier. Yes, that really is it, which is a shame really as the whole thing starts out with such promise.
Tom and Jerry is fun while it lasts, and there's little doubt that the production values have been kept above average for a title of this nature. Unfortunately this comes at a price and here it's the lack of interactivity so rather than being in full control of the characters you do occasionally simply push them in the right direction. Still, it does actually 'play' like a cartoon and the developers have clearly taken their lead from the various laser disc titles from the 1980s (Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, etc). Whether you like this style of game or not is all down to personal preference and as a result, it's difficult to recommend this to everyone but if you are a fan of this cartoon Cat and Mouse duo then it's probably worth a look.
Pro: Nice Cut-Scenes and Fitting Music.
Con: Repetitive Music and Gameplay.
Final score: 6.5