Check out our retrospective review of Tweety and the Magic Gems…
Find out why this Gameboy Advance game is a true hidden gem, and gives the likes of Mario Party and run for its money!
Hey how’s it going guys, this is Tom from UDS and welcome to the latest edition of our series where we look at games that critics hated, but in actual fact, we enjoyed a whole bunch. Whether they’re so bad they’re good, or genuinely under-appreciated hidden gems, we think it’s about time they get the spotlight they deserve, and this particular entry comes from UDS team member Matt Dobbie.
Based on aggregate review scores, we’re going to throw ourselves directly onto the controversy bonfire, and tell you what you really missed out on if you listened to the critics of yesteryear. Lastly before we start, don’t forget to like, hit the bell and subscribe for plenty more video game content every single week and let me know what your favourite underrated games are in the comments below.
Above all else, a video game should be fun. That’s their main purpose. When you’re a kid, you’re not looking at what critics are saying, you’re grabbing a game with a really interesting cover or with brand recognition and just playing the Hell out of it because you want to have fun. Or, at least, that was my experience. Bad game design didn’t factor into my 9 year old gaming habits (unless we’re talking about Sea Monkeys for the PS1 which I knew was bad within about 5 minutes of starting it up…).
Brand recognition is what led me to Tweety and the Magic Gems. I knew I was getting a Game Boy Advance for my birthday, and in the lead up happened to see the box for the game in my local Dixons. I made the decision there and then that I wanted the game. I didn’t know anything about it, I don’t even think I looked at the back of the box. All I knew is that I was getting my first ever handheld console and I needed games for it – Looney Tunes would be perfect no matter what they’re up to.
Tweety and the Magic Gems turned out to be a party game, a term I wouldn’t come to understand until many years after. The story went that Tweety Pie, lovable scamp that he is, had been venturing through the woods one day and discovered a strange box. He opened the box and accidentally unleashed ‘bad forest magic’ and began slowly turning to stone. Granny, in her witchy form here, finds out and summons Looney favourites like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester and more to scour the globe and collect 5 Magic Gems in an effort to stop Tweety fully turning to stone forever.
Truthfully, the story doesn’t play a massive part in the game, outside of setting an effective turn limit to the game (every few turns, you see more and more of Tweety’s body turning to stone; once he hits 100%, it’s game over whether anyone’s collected the gems or not). The game board is basically a map of the world with spaces allocated across it, and you decide how many spaces you move via selecting a card from a shuffling deck. The gems themselves change place for every game, but are always located within 5 famous cities across the world, which effectively act as mini game boards that you enter via the main board. There are events across the map that can help or hinder you and your opponents can use items to stop you in your tracks. If you draw an Joker card from the deck, then Taz will arrive as the game’s chaos element to ensure you’re gonna have a bad time. And in true party game fashion, there were MANY minigames to take part in to get character points to save up for items.
Nowadays, and perhaps even at the time, this game would be seen by many purely as a ‘Mario Party’ clone, and you can’t really argue that point. I can argue though that it doesn’t make this a bad game by any stretch – in fact I think in terms of its game board and the mini games within it has a fair deal of scope that Nintendo’s plumber had yet to realise in his Party series. On top of all that, there’s the style of this game – the art perhaps isn’t astounding but it all fits into the Looney Tunes universe superbly (especially for the GBA), the game’s soundtrack has been ingrained in my head for years and, well, I’d take the Looney Tunes over Mario and his cohorts any day quite frankly.
The game currently sits at 45/100 on Metacritic, and I personally think it warrants a higher score than that. Yes, if you’ve played any Mario Party before then perhaps this won’t win you over. If however, like 9 year old me, you had never played a party game before, you’d see this is very clearly a game that’s good at what it does and, above all else, is a fun video game.
But what did you think of Tweety and the Magic Gems? Did you play it back in the day, or are you going to check it out now? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your thoughts. And while you’re down there, don’t forget to subscribe for more videos every single week, and visit upsidedownshark.com to read the article that inspired this series. I’ll put a link in the description
But until then my name is Tom, this has been UDS and we’ll see you next time.