Galactic Taz Ball
Publisher: WB Games
Release Date: June 22, 2010
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
When I first read the announcement of Galatic Taz Ball, I thought this might be a pinball game. Upon reading about it more in-depth, I found out it was not, but instead an action platformer. I figured I’d be disappointed since I love pinball games, but instead I was delighted by a simple and zany game staring the lovable tornado of destruction.
Before even popping open the game I noticed something odd. The front of the box portrayed Taz as having yellow eyes. Usually this sort of thing wouldn’t bother me, except that throughout the game they are yellow instead of the standard white. For purist, it’s something to note.
The game starts with Taz taking a leisurely nap when Marvin the Martian starts beaming parts of the world up. Taz then springs into action and save the landscape. That’s about as detailed as the story gets, but is excusable considering the source material.
When presented with the start screen, you’ll have three save files to choose from. Erasing the files is presented as an option as well. Three difficulties are available, fun, challenging, and crazy, which affect the values of the point cubes and coins you collect throughout for extra lives. These extra lives come in handy if you get stuck in a particular area and want to skip ahead.
To control Taz, you use the touch screen to spin the on-screen ball. The faster you spin, the faster he gets into his famous tornado spin. I found it difficult at times to control this ball of enthusiasm, mostly over sections with little leeway for error, which is where the skip function came in handy. If you fall off a ledge three times, the game presents an option to skip ahead for the cost of a life. Luckily, falling off ledges and cliffs don’t cost lives, but instead send you back a short distance to try again.
To attack enemies, Taz can spin into them. For those that are immune to those attacks, any of the buttons, D-pad or ABXY will make Taz instantly stop and do a jump that sends an air of destruction out. This I noticed makes you temporarily invincible and comes in handy when navigating enemy infested areas. If you’re about to run into an enemy that you realize is immune to stomping or spinning, holding the stylus down on one spot will make him stop.
In the levels themselves is a section where Taz has a blinding mind control helmet thrown on him where you must direct him. Spikes and other hazards prevent an easy getaway in later levels. Throughout the levels are golden kiwi collectibles that unlock hidden art in the extras menu. They are not required, but to provide a decent incentive to go back and replay levels. If you do decide to go back for the kiwis, WayForward has made it less painful and allowed players to press Start and exit from the level. This is helpful when you’ve missed only one kiwi in a particular level and don’t wish to replay the entire thing.
Although each world has five levels, a few of them can be skipped. This leads to getting to the boss fights with Marvin sooner and moving onto the next world. These battles aren’t that difficult and follow a pattern. Once you hit him three times, it’s lights out for the Martian.
When playing through the game, you’ll notice Taz has his familiar noises of when he’s a tornado. The same holds true when he gets hurt and replies with an, “ow” or similar. Unfortunately though, the soundtrack wasn’t as memorable as the cartoon music tended to be. It’s not bad and fits rather well, it just doesn’t stick out as anything special.
Aside from a few of the control foibles, I do have a few minor nitpicks about the game however. Upon booting the game, you always need to select the language. This impeded on my immediate playing, but again, it’s minor.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much out of the game because I didn’t have high or low expectations. In the past, games have been hit or miss. With Galactic Taz Ball, I think WayForward did a great job, but of course there’s always room for improvement. Even so, this is decent to pick up for kids, simply for the forgiving nature of the game.
A review copy was furnished by WB Games, which we appreciate.