Animaniacs: Lights, Camera, Action!, you are utter crap.

This is not the kind of thing I say lightly. Animaniacs has been one of my favorite shows since junior high, and I was excited to see the Warner brothers—and the Warner sister—back out of their tower after all these years. I wasn't expecting greatness, but mediocrity would've been nice.

Living Rorschach tests Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner have cost the Warner Brothers studio "a zillion" dollars in damages, and the only way to pay off their debt is to make three low budget genre films: a pirate adventure, a sci-fi alien picture and a horror movie. In fact, these movies are so low budget that the Warners have to provide their own film, whether by finding canisters strewn about movie sets or by doing a "Polka-Dottie" musical number. To dance the Polka-Dottie, players go into doors marked with stars and push the proper buttons when their images are in the big star at the center of the stage.

Not only can we get up to five canisters at one time in the Polka-Dottie room—we can also switch between characters who all have different strengths and weaknesses. Dot can use her skirt to float long distances but refuses to push objects ("Make the boys do it!"); world domination-obsessed Brain can run quickly and pull mysterious IQ levers, but his head's too heavy for him to jump. And Wakko can kill enemies with the garlic power of his belch. Since this is Hollywood, the Animaniacs can't really get hurt; but if the director yells "Cut!" they have to go back to their last checkpoint and waste precious film.

Sounds like fun, right? Guess again, Mr. DeMille.

First of all, Animaniacs, your hit detection seems only to exist in some neophysicist's PhD. dissertation. "Thank goodness. I finally killed that guy," I'd think, and then notice that the pirate/alien/monster wasn't dead. "But I hit you!" I'd shout. "I! Hit! You!" Perhaps this "challenge" is meant to make Wakko and his belch-power more attractive. I certainly preferred him to his food-throwing siblings.

While you measure struck targets with all the sensitivity of a Brillo pad, your response to movement controls is as raw as a third-degree burn. Do you know how hard it is to hit a zombie arbitrarily correctly when pushing the D-pad a little too hard makes me turn in the wrong direction altogether? Don't get me started on the moving platforms. Oh, heck. It's too late now.

I would've given you a score of 2.5, but then Dot had to climb into a rocket ship via a series of platforms that only move when she's not standing on them. Even after figuring out the precise order and timing of Dottie's jumps—which took, oh, 100 rolls of film altogether—I still had to contend with the tiny yellow platform at the top. Itty-bitty target plus awful hit detection equals a point and a half deduction. How's that for New Math?

Animaniacs, I'd think that by the last level I would've suffered enough. But, no—you had to get a rabbit-punch in before the bell. As I was running up the carpeted stairs in the evil doctor's castle, the theme music suddenly collapsed into a single fuzzy note that was so annoying I had to mute the sound and put the radio on. Blame my system if you want, but no other game of mine has had such a hiccup, especially not one that lasted at least fifteen minutes.

Maybe you're a wake-up call for me. I usually adopt some Father Flanagan philosophy, finding that no game is a total waste of ones and zeros. (Even Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Summoner: A Goddess Reborn weren't total losses). But Spencer Tracy is dead and you, Animaniacs: Lights, Camera, Action!, are a bad game. A very, very bad game. Rating: 1 out of 10

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Game Boy Advance version of the game.

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk grew up in a small Nebraska town called Papillion. Although she has a nonverbal learning disability that affects her visual-spatial skills (among other things), she's always loved video games. Her first game system was a Commodore Vic-20, which her mom bought at a garage sale for $20. With this little computer Tera learned to write Mad Libs in BASIC, to play chess and to steal gold from Fort Knox.

But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).

Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.
Tera Kirk

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