Dateline : 21st November 2011


Taz and Retrobear share a few things in common. They are always hungry, both hideously ugly and both amazingly hairy. It seemed only fair to look at Taz’s first platform outing on the Mega Drive and find out if the rave reviews on release were still justified 20 years later…..


That is the worst case of indegestion I have ever seen

I love cartoons, not sure I have mentioned that before. Not the modern day rubbish you find polluting our screens on some obscure kids satellite TV channel. I am talking about proper cartoons – Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes. It’s the latter I probably love the most, with humour so far ahead of its time, wacky characters, insane violence and some high quality animation. No cartoon studio captures the spirit of what a cartoon should be more than Warner Brothers so it comes as no surprise that at every opportunity they will license their characters to video games.


There are literally far too many to mention and as a result of that I am going to focus on Taz-Mania which was released on the Sega Mega Drive. Incidentally this is not to be confused with the SNES game of the same name, which was totally different and thus vastly inferior to this game. At the time Warners had created a brand new cartoon based around the Tasmanian Devil, his family and friends and this game tied in nicely with that.


Lush graphics make the game feel like it was lifted straight from the TV series


You all know Taz, he’s the unpredictable, loud, always hungry, scruffy looking monster that tried numerous times to eat Bugs and Daffy in the 1950’s. Now back in his homeland of Australia (giving the Americans enough ammunition to take the piss out of the Aussies whenever possible), Taz was strapped into yet another platform game based around his adventures. Taz sets off an a quest to find the mythical lizard egg which will feed a family of Tasmanian Devils for a year. All he has to do is simply walk, jump or spin his way through various levels, avoiding spear chucking bushrats amongst other things while eating everything and anything he can along the way. He can’t eat everything though and eating something that doesn’t agree with him will result in a bellyache.


The first thing that strikes you about the game is how beautiful it looks. At the time it was one of the most stunning games to look at on the Mega Drive. It really captured the feel of the cartoon so well. In fact it may have been this that blinded a lot of the positive press at the time. Strip the lovely visuals away and you are left with quite annoyingly bad sound effects and twee, inappropriate music. Taz is well animated, as are the other graphics but the whole thing moves at a snail’s pace, even when Taz is in spin mode. Finally the whole thing is just too damn easy. My bad games playing skills are well known but even I was able to get quite far into the game after a few goes, and that doesn’t bode well.


As good as it looks, Taz-Mania plays like any other platform game of its era and has nothing to make it stand out from the crowd


Throw in yet another linear platformer and all Taz-Mania has to stand out from the crowd is its looks. Its a real shame that revisiting a game I quite enjoyed as a kid now finds it in a state where it can have no real place in gaming history. Sadly the bad games for Taz didn’t end there. The afore mentioned SNES game was a 3D running game which has no redeeming features whatsoever. Taz Express on the N64 wasn’t much better, going back to the tried and tested formula of platform gaming, and ends up being a poor man’s Mario 64 type game.


Taz-Mania sadly isn’t the licence it should have been. If you have fond memories of this from your childhood, keep your distance and hold on to them


VERDICT : At the time, stunning visually. Now, its exposed for the shallow platform game it was at the time. A real shame.


NOTES : Taz-Mania can be found for around £2.00 on Amazon and 99p on eBay.


TBC : Put together time and crisis and what does that give you – Time Crisis on the PS1