Total time played: 10 minutes
Short review: Tiny Toon Cartoon Workshop really tried to make something unique and give kids the ability to make their own cartoons. Unfortunately the NES limitations and unintuitive controls make it virtually unplayable.
Interesting links related to Tiny Toons Cartoon Workshop
- Gameplay Footage
- A completed cartoon by HexenDarkside “Murder In The ACME Woods”
- My video attempt to play this “game”
Not good in 2017 – or ever
I was always intrigued by games that let you design your own game. Games like RPG Maker, Little Big Planet, Minecraft, Super Mario Maker and probably some others I’m forgetting. But, all of those games have one thing in common…I’ve never actually played them. The idea sounds great in theory but “ain’t nobody got time for that”. I barely have enough time to play games that other people make. So, I always shy away from these games because I’m afraid I would like them too much and lose several hundred hours of free time that I don’t have making something that isn’t as good as what a game making professional can make.
All that aside, I decided to give Cartoon Workshop a try because it is on the NES and I’m determined to play everything on the system. It has been sitting on my shelf collecting dust (a lot of dust and gunk too) for years. In fact, whoever I got the game from must have been a slob. It took about a dozen q-tips to clean it well enough to get it to play in the NES, and it took another 5 minutes of wiggling around and blowing to get it to play even after a thorough cleaning (and if you watch my video play through you will see that even after all of that the game is still dirty and froze up on its own).
How to play
This isn’t a game maker, it is a cartoon maker. You choose 2 characters, each doing a small handful of actions and place them on a back drop. You then give each character motion, add some pre-scripted text, sound effects and music and watch your masterpiece.
As a young kid in the 90’s, before the internet, before smart phones, before HDTV, before YouTube, before affordable intuitive editing software and every household with a computer Cartoon Workshop may have been a decent experience.
I can’t really go into much detail on the controls because in my short play session I never really got a good handle on them. Basically, you click around until you figure something out, realize it would have been easier if the controls were programmed differently and then giving up.
What changes would I have made?
At the top of the screen are your controls. The first option is to choose character 1, then you select your scene. But, if you select your scene it gives you a warning that changing your scene will erase your progress. So, why not have you pick what scene you want on a previous screen and then not give you the option to accidentally erase all of your work while you are still working? Also, this would clear up more screen real estate for other options.
Second, give the ability for the creator to type their own text bubbles. I understand why Nintendo probably didn’t want this option, kids would type cuss words and make Tiny Toons characters say/do things that neither Warner Bros or Nintendo would approve of. But, this game came out pre-internet, so who would have seen it? You may have shared your naughty cartoon with 4 friends but it would not have been enough to tarnish the name of the cartoon company. However, in retrospect this was probably a smart move because the internet does exist.
Third, have all of the controls on screen at all times and make them consistent. I feel like sometimes B did something under one setting that A did under another setting. In my short time with the game I never felt comfortable doing anything.
Fourth, add the ability to save cartoons. This was always my gripe with Mario Paint as well. Why not splurge and add a battery backup so after spending 2 hours making a masterpiece you can save it and show your friends? I realize in this day and age that isn’t as big of a concern, but in the 90’s unless you were really tech savvy you would have had no way to save your work.
Is it bad? Yes, very. But, some of that has to do with the fact that I’m not a child stuck at home with no other entertainment. I played this knowing that much better examples of the same type of application exist. But, if I had played it years ago I probably could have had a weekends worth of fun with it. I give it an A for effort and originality which is why I rated it 1 heart and not 1/2 a heart