|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Amaze Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 10, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Cartoon Conductor stays true to its roots in every area except the gameplay, which is largely borrowed from Elite Beat Agents as previously mentioned. Numbered circles will crop up with a large ring around them along to the music. The rings will decrease in size as their beat approaches, and players must tap the circles when they match the outline of the notes. The first note in a sequence can be tapped, but players then have to hold the stylus down and drag it through subsequent notes. In another variation, notes will fall downward in four columns, and players have to tap the notes out as they reach circles at the bottom of the screen. Neither of the two mechanics is very tight, and they're not as developed as what's seen in EBA.
The classical tunes in the game are excellent pieces on their own, and mesh clearly with the animations, but they simply don't translate particularly well into rhythm-based gameplay. Keeping up with the note indicators in the proper rhythm on some songs is like trying to find the beat when there isn't one. Many of the compositions lack a steady or clearly discernable rhythm, and it can be quite difficult to pull off long chains of notes on the first attempt. Frequently, the notes players must hit follow melody changes instead of percussive elements. It's also easy to get lost in the visual mess of large clusters of fast-moving notes that sprout up like connect-the-dots from hell.
All the voice work in the game is ripped straight from the cartoons, and favorite phrases for all the major characters appear intermittently while navigating the menus as well as in the gameplay itself. A fully animated tutorial starring Bugs Bunny also does a good job of explaining the gameplay, and three difficulty modes offer greater challenges for more advanced players. Those who persevere will be rewarded with unlockable portraits and bios that provide interesting background information for each character, and completed tunes appear in a jukebox for easy listening.
Frankly, quite a few of the early Warner Brothers cartoons were incredibly violent, racist, and inappropriate for the young audiences they were geared towards. However, when you weed out the offensive or mediocre content, there's some good material to be found there, and it's these quality moments that make it into the game. Most of the action scenes in Cartoon Conductor feature a lot of the trademark slapstick humor typically associated with the cartoons - for better or worse. Fortunately, the humor and animations translate perfectly onto the DS, even if the musical gameplay is sub-par. It's a quirky experiment that ultimately ends in mixed results.
CCC Staff Contributor