Tom & Jerry: Infurnal Escape Review

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Publisher: NewKidCo
Developer: NewKidCo

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Reviewed on Game Boy Advance

Occasionally, the eternal battle between Tom and Jerry, of cartoon fame, tilts in favor of one or the other. This time, while in hot pursuit of his rodent nemesis, Tom accidentally pulled an upright piano down a flight of stairs, squashing him flat and dispatching him to the depths of Hell. The prospects for eternity look glum, as Tom is delivered into the tender care of a demonic version of Spike the dog. But even Tom isn't entirely beyond salvation. An angelic (and very feminine) mouse appears to Tom, and offers him a chance to return to his former life if he can perform a series of tasks.

Kyle Ackerman

The abovementioned story sets the stage for Tom & Jerry: Infurnal Escape, a simple, but colorful and engaging platformer. Tom's journey takes him through a dog army camp populated by vicious armed bulldogs and even bigger dog military police. By sneakily swapping all the dog's flags for Tom's own, and flipping a few switches, Tom can ultimately escape, stealing plenty of golden bones along the way, for good measure. Later in his journey, Tom must navigate castles filled with mouseketeers (mice dressed like Frenchmen of a bygone era), freeing his cat brethren along the way. Each of the imprisoned cats is manacled to the walls until freed by Tom, at which point they do an enthusiastic exit, stage left, Snagglepus style.

This Tom & Jerry title skips lightly over the quirks of the Game Boy Advance system that a lot of other games fall prey to. In other games, characters can be too large, the viewable area is too small, or the game fails to overcome the dark screen. This Tom & Jerry game successfully keeps the viewable area large enough to be playable while still having characters sizable enough to support interesting animations and individual detail. There are lots of cute moments, such as when Tom plays air guitar on his bat if you leave him idle too long. Most importantly, the colorful, cartoonish sensibilities create a light and lighthearted environment with sufficient contrast to be easily visible on the GBA screen.

Tom does what the hero of any platformer would – he jumps, climbs and collects items. When he has a baseball bat on hand he can crush threatening dog soldiers and tiny mouse musketeers, saving him from all but inanimate hazards like falling chandeliers, bear traps, thrusting spikes and bottomless pits. The devilish Jerry is one of Tom's biggest threats, appearing in a puff of sulfurous smoke to poke at Tom or summon more baddies with his bugle. Fortunately, Tom has the best possible weapon to deal with a demon mouse – cheese is scattered around the levels and can be thrown as a distraction.

This is a great game for younger players, once you help them learn the basics of flipping switches and changing flags. The controls are simple. Tom's jumping is a little "mushy" in that he sometimes takes a split second to react once you press the button, but it is easy to adapt to that and the general control scheme. Levels are clever but simple of design, and easy (after a try or two) to finish. Collecting every available object is only slightly more challenging. Adult gamers will probably collect everything the first time they complete a level, but kids might need another try, giving them a reason to replay a familiar level. Only the timed levels (in which you have very complex obstacles, a single correct path and a short time limit) are at all hard. Fortunately, if you wait out the time limit, you can simply continue, allowing the game to continue apace and leaving nothing to frustrate young players.

The only real irritation in Tom & Jerry: Infurnal Escape is the password-based save system. To continue from a save (available at the end of each level) you need to input a sequence of eleven characters including letters numbers and shapes. While this is in keeping with old console titles and some current GBA games, it is a minor irritation and more difficult for the young. If you have the ability to play longer sessions, the save mechanic is more than offset by a pleasant and clever continue mechanism. If Tom loses all his lives, he falls back to hell, but is given a chance by Angel (the angelic mouse) to start the latest level anew if Tom can collect three wandering souls within a time limit. If Tom finds enough floating spirits, an express elevator appears to take him to the opening of the last level. Collecting souls is simple enough, and more satisfying than just hitting "yes" on a continue screen – as if you've earned the right to continue.

Tom & Jerry: Infurnal Escape offers some straightforward, fun platformer action for the Game Boy Advance. The cartoonish formula will be particularly entertaining for young gamers, but this cartridge is ideal for GBA gamers with a fondness for the Tom & Jerry cartoons.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on February 20, 2003 7:27 PM.

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