Review: Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday (SNES)

A Looney Tunes platformer that's actually not too shabby.

For anyone who's watched the classic Porky Pig cartoons, you know that animators were quite fond of placing our stuttering pig friend into scary situations. Who could forget the leprechaun shoes or the moose head with the gun barrel protruding from its mouth. Well you'll be happy to know that not only are they both found in this haunting Super Nintendo platforming title, there's also tons of other classic Looney Tunes spooks thrown in for good measure. Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday might not be quite on par with some of the finer Super NES platformers, but it's got enough solid play control and Looney Tunes charm to make it at least worth a play.

From the moment you begin playing Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday, you'll realize that the game was obviously geared towards younger children when it was developed. The control scheme is extremely simple, and even the objectives in the game feel overly obvious and dumbed-down at times. That's not to say that this isn't a quality platformer, as the control in the game is quite good and generally feels very responsive, but seasoned platforming fans will likely blow through the first half of the game with great ease.

Porky basically has two simple game play moves at his disposal. He can jump and he can toss fruit at enemies. There are other means of traversing the levels, such as swinging from chains and riding on bubbles underwater, but for the most part, it's your typical run/jump side-scroller. There are also boss fights at the end of each area, but they tend to be overly easy to beat and don't offer much in the way of variety. At least the main levels themselves are well designed and offer up enough challenge to offset the weaker boss fights.

While the backdrops in Haunted Holiday are quite solid, it's the animation that seems to shine the brightest. All of the characters and enemies have that trademark Looney Tunes animation style and it proves to be quite an achievement for a 16-bit title. The colors that are used are all soft and give off a very spooky feel that fits the mood of the game perfectly. Although there aren't a lot of bright colors in the game, the blending of these softer color tones is done quite well using the large color palette of the Super Nintendo console. There's also multi-layer scrolling that adds additional depth to the surroundings as well. When you couple these quality backdrops with the already impressive animation, what you get is enough visual charm to make you want to stick with the game just to see what the next level has in store for you from a visual standpoint.

It's difficult to review the music and sound effects in Haunted Holiday mainly because there's not much there to evaluate. The music that plays in the background during each level is basically one simple spooky melody repeated over and over again. These short melodies are quite good, but they're so short and repeated so often that they quickly become annoying when you find yourself playing the same level for any extended length of time. It also doesn't help that these tunes don't really get much better as you progress through the game. The sound effects are also not nearly as impressive as those found in other Looney Tunes titles on the Super Nintendo system. Normally the character voices are quite well done, but Porky Pig doesn't even manage to stutter a single one of his trademark catch phrases at any point in the game. Even the other sound effects come off as more of an afterthought than anything relevant to the game. Considering the solid visuals, it's a bit of a shame that more emphasis wasn't placed on getting the sound effects and musical presentation up to par.

Conclusion

If you love a good platformer and can accept that this certainly isn't on par with many of the top tier Super NES platformers out there, then you might actually enjoy this release. It's a bit on the easy side, but it's got enough charm and personality to make it at least worthwhile. The control proves to be surprisingly good and how can you not love a video game that has Porky Pig in it. Especially one that tosses him into so many hilariously spooky situations. Of all the Looney Tunes releases on the Super Nintendo system, Porky Pig's Haunted Holiday is easily one of the better efforts and a game platformer fans might want to check out.