Hanna-Barbera's Turbo Toons
When characters from various media meet up, it's never just to exchange
pleasantries and have a bit of a laugh or anything like that - it's always to
prove something. Superheroes frequently meet up to prove how many ribs they can
break in a fight, Sonic and Mario met up to prove who was fastest, and Kirk and Picard met up to compare whether being a lumberjack was better than living in
one of those glurgy Christmas card houses.
Somebody thought that six of the Hanna-Barbera characters absolutely, positively
needed to meet up, in video game format, for the purpose of finding out who was
the best jogger.
And this game was developed and published.
Meaning it got past the pitching stage.
And since it was published, that means it got a Nintendo official seal of approval.
We either live on the best world ever, or one of the worst.
It's hard to accurately describe the game, because... seriously, what the
There's six characters to choose from - Snagglepuss, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Hong
Kong Phooey, Quick Draw McGraw, and Huckleberry Hound. It's a decent enough
roster, though Quick Draw and Huckleberry always seemed to be two of the more
weaker Hanna-Barbera characters; to me, at least. See, the other guys had
explicit roles; Yogi would have his catchphrases and mild nemesis Ranger Smith,
Top Cat would have his gang and Officer Dibble, Hong Kong Phooey would fight
crime and Snagglepuss would get up to forgettable antics that would inevitably
involve the saying of "exit, stage left!" But... Quick Draw, I don't know shit
about him. He's a cowboy. Heck, the only cartoon I remember him from was
Yogi's Ark Lark, and when you only remember someone from a crossover cartoon
where he only had a bit-part, that's probably not a good thing. Still, six
characters, and I think they're possibly meant to have different stats, but hell
if I know.
The game supports five players, by the way!
The meat of the game, of course, is the racing. None of the levels scroll,
obviously to prevent losing anyone off-screen. All six characters take part;
they can jump, which if done while colliding with another player, knocks them
for a loop. You can also sprint, which, well, is rather mandatory, but drains
your energy. Diamonds and hearts pop up around the track which aid in refilling
said energy, though black diamonds make a rain cloud appear over your
character's head to slow them down. Some courses contain hazards, whether it's
the basic terrain like water, ice and dirt, or something like specific like
Wally Gator running you down on a jet ski or tripping over Benny the Ball, it
all serves to slow you down in some manner or way. Make five or so laps around
the course and Captain Caveman will celebrate your victory with some flag
And then you're booted back to the title screen.
See, that's why it's hard to accurately describe the game. On first view, it
looks comically unfinished. Pressing Start takes you straight to the character
select screen, and that's followed up by the same race every time, which ends
with no celebration at all; just revisiting the title screen once more. It looks
like a testing demo of some description, being so ridiculously simplistic.
Then you press Select and DUDE THERE'S DIFFERENT MODES
The silly thing is that the default mode is what I assume is the training mode;
at least, I can't figure out any other meaning behind holding up a dumbbell by
your pinky, besides freak of nature. The flag lets you play any of the real
courses, which are part of the championship mode that you'd really expect to be
the default setting in the game, but it's the third one! A fine example of
The championship mode is not very exciting. In fact, the only difference is that
you get a score screen after each race that gives you points depending on how
well you do, but in all honesty, there's no point. After five races you get a
celebratory screen, and all it impacts is whether or not you and your three
letter name appear or not. There's three tournaments (Magilla Gorilla's Goblet,
Touché Turtle's Shield, and Ricochet Rabbit's Trophy), and viewing internal game
text states there's more to unlock (Auggie Doggie's Bowl and Captain Caveman's
Cup), but... they're just not fun, y'know?
Some courses are fairly simplistic
and almost enjoyable, but some feature some ridiculously convoluted layouts, and
considering the characters aren't exact the sharpest at cornering and bounce in
a random direction when colliding with the scenery, it doesn't take long before
it becomes a chore.
The final mode is Atom Ant's Diamond Challenge, where you're give a large, empty
space and merely have to collect 50 diamonds. There's large ones that are worth
5, and blue ones that... are blue. It's the only mode without computer player
support, and since there's not even a time limit to work against, it's a
thoroughly pointless mode when alone. Obviously in multi-player mode it expects
a lot of shouting and bumping and rowdy competition going on, but... at the end
of the day, who's going to want to play this with you?
Most strangely of all on the options menu, is a password bar. There's five boxes
which can be changed to different colours, and presumably if you get it right,
the thumb down will become a thumb up, and something will be achieved.
What, however, is a mystery.
pretty hard to even hint at denying it, but the game is pretty dire. The races
just have this overwhelming vibe of "who cares?" about them. If I'm in the lead,
I know all I'll be getting as a reward (after more races, of course) is a
screen with Captain Caveman holding a trophy. If I'm lagging behind... well, who
cares? Of course, the race never ends until you end the last lap, so you can
very well have the other races running laps for eternity if you camp out
somewhere. Not to mention that, well, the challenge isn't terribly high. The
computer characters don't seem to sprint, ever, and even though the sprint metre
doesn't take long to deplete, using it as all times and jumping into everyone
you pass should, for the most part, make just about any race a cinch. They only
get difficult when they introduce either cheap hazards (fuck you, Wally
Gator!) or a part of the track you can miss. Squiddly Diddly's Sea Bed, for
instance, requires you to run around a loop in a compressed space, which is
frustrating both because you can potentially run past it, but getting through it
is a hassle due to the ludicrous bouncing physics that come into play when you
hit a wall. The levels before and after it are easier!
But like so many bad games, it's a completely aesthetic factor that intrigues
me. In this case - the fact it's so damn mysterious.
Judging from the only ROM available, it was only released in Europe (lucky us?),
and no box art is available anywhere on the internet. There are credits
available inside the game data that can easily be seen with Notepad, but the
fact they're prefaced with the cryptic text "
WELL DONE!! THE WORLD IS SAFE
AGAIN BECAUSE OF YOUR HEROIC EFFORTS! YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN..."
only slightly hints that it might belong to another game. Plus... honest
to God, who in their right mind thought a game about competitive jogging
with wisecracking cartoon characters was a good idea?
At least give them roller skates or something.