Tigger's Honey Hunt

Developer: Doki Denki Studio
Publisher: NewKidCo
Released: November 1 2000
Regions: NA, PAL
Genre: Platformer
Multiplayer: 1 - 4 Players
Cart Size: 16MB / 128Mb
Saving: On-Cart
Rumble Pak?: No
Expansion Pak? No
- Required? No
And the award for most unlikely decent game goes to...

Games tend to define a console. This is a fact that never really changes. In the case of the N64, people remember it for its fun platformers, hordes of first person shooters and the severe lack of RPGs. But one aspect of the N64 that most people don't talk about too much, is its seedy underbelly of obscurities. Out of its 296 North American releases, a surprising number of non-sports games range from the very strange, to the unbelievably awful, to the astonishingly excellent and beyond. There's titles like Milo's Astro Lanes and Charlie Blast's Territory which fit into the strange category. Games like Carmaggedon 64 and Daikatana are indeed terrible but not many people talk about them these days. Sometimes though, while wading through the pool of misfit games on the N64, you find games that are surprisingly good, yet are unheard of or are passed up based on the theme of the game. A good example would be Lode Runner 3D, or the focus of this very review, Tigger's Honey Hunt.

Now, with a game based on Winnie the Pooh, surely no self respecting adult would ever play this, right? Well, it's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. Besides, somebody has to cover those Elmo games eventually, heh heh. Anyway, as the name would suggest, Tigger's Honey Hunt weaves a story about Tigger who offers to help Pooh collect honey (or as it's spelled in the game, hunny) for a grand party. Not much else is explained beyond the first cutscene, until you finish the game. As you progress through the story mode (listed as Tigger's Adventure on the main menu), you'll chance upon the various characters of Winnie the Pooh during your quest for hunny, like Rabbit, Gopher, Piglet and Pooh himself. Sometimes you have to help that character, or that character helps you. Owl in particular, acts as a dedicated helper character, who appears to explain certain aspects of the game and counts your hunny pots after each level. It's all very charming and quite in keeping with the tone of the source material.

The game itself plays like a traditional 2D platformer of the 16-bit era, except with polygons. You jump on platforms, traverse pitfalls and other usual platform-y things. The main collectible is the hunny pot. You must collect a minimum number of these in order to complete a level. To get 100% completion though, first you have to get all the hunny pots in each level. At the same time you have to find 5 or so photographs. Lastly, you have to replay each level, collect the stopwatch at the start and get a time low enough to clear that level. Much like any good platformer, Tigger can learn new bounces, which allows him to reach secret areas in previously beaten stages. It's a common tactic of these sorts of games, but it's not too annoying here, since the game is so easy and short. As a means of appealing to young kids, you can't really die in this game. What may look like extra lives in the upper left corner of the screen, is actually your health. If you run out of health, you simply start at an earlier part of the stage, indicated by a check point. Every third level is a mini-game, which can also be played with friends in the "Classic Mini-Games" on the title screen.

In this particular platformer, the controls are quite solid. Tigger walks, runs, crouches, jumps (or bounces in this case) and maneuvers quite responsively. His horizontal jumping speed may be a little limiting, but at least you can change direction mid-jump. Tigger can also grab onto ledges if he doesn't quite make a jump, a feature that's always appreciated in these sorts of games. The various moves Tigger can learn are never really hard to use, such as tapping the A button to float in the air for a short time. Either the control stick or D-Pad can be used in this game. Seeing how it's a 2D platformer, the D-Pad is most appropriate. Overall, Doki Denki Studio actually realized kids would be playing this game and calibrated the accessibility of the controls accordingly, which actually makes the game a pleasure to play, for anyone really. Good controls should be a priority in any game.

As mentioned earlier, there are a few multiplayer mini-games that can support between 2 and 4 players. The first one is Rabbit Says, which is just as boring as the regular Simon Says. The main issue is it's just too slow when it comes time to repeat what Rabbit said. The next game is Pooh Sticks (called Pooh Stick in this game), which is actually pretty fun and easily the best out of the three mini-games. All you have to do is aim your pointer somewhere in the stream, preferably where there's some faster current, and see who wins. What's nice is some actual skill and luck is needed to win at this game. The last of the three is called Paper, Scissors, Stone. Yes, it's just a copy of Rock, Paper, Scissors and whatever other names it goes by. Much like Rabbit Says, the slowness of the game really bogs down any kind of fun that might have been possible. What's worse is you can see what the computer chooses and it's very predictable. Paper, Scissors, Stone is a 2-player game, unlike the other two which support up to 4 players. Each mini-game has two difficulty settings for the computer controlled players, Easy Baby and Hard. Awfully extreme choices I would say, especially for a Winnie the Pooh game.

The graphics, are probably the game's weakest link. While 2D images appear fine, the polygonal character models are rather sloppily designed, with seams and converging polygons. The lighting and general coloring for the level graphics tend to be rather dull and not very vibrant, which isn't what show or movies tended to look like. The environments themselves, like the trees and valleys in the background, are quite good though. There's quite a bit of variety between each level. The textures are okay for the most part, but are rather standard N64 fare among third party games. Sometimes there's clipping, but it rarely happens. The animations are pretty good though, the characters move smoothly and the animated parts of the levels look quite nice. A very noticeable flaw though, is the frame rate. Usually it's at 30fps, but sometimes it dips below that for little to no reason. A game this simple shouldn't really have slowdown.

The sound is a bit of a mixed bag. The music itself is very appropriate of the source material and really channels the feeling of the game, but it's not very high quality. At least it's in stereo though. I don't know if any of the tracks are directly based on the music in the movies and TV shows, but even on its own, the music in Tigger's Honey Hunt stands quite admirably compared to other third party N64 games. The game may not have any voiced dialog, but some of the characters do have small assortments of voice clips. Tigger has the most, which is understandable since he's the main character. If there's one major setback with the audio, it's the lack of audible dialog. In a game like this, with young children as its target demographic, who probably saw the movies and TV shows first, the lack of any voice for the cutscenes really limits a lot of the immersion factor. Yes, even kids material can be engaging. Every time there's a cutscene, one can almost imagine the characters speaking with their classic voices, as if the brain fills in that void.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this game is how faithful it is to the source material. There are many references to other stories and adventures in the Winnie the Pooh series, such as the Pooh Sticks mini-game, which is based the Pooh Sticks game mentioned in the story "Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore". There's also Heffalump hot air balloons from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and several other familiar sights from the movies and shows, such as the houses of the characters in the background of some levels. Even when you move Tigger, he starts out running, but then changes to bouncing, which is a very nice touch that really adds to the presentation. There's also a Photo Album, where you can see the photographs you collect during the main adventure. The picture of Tigger on the first page is from the movie, "The Tigger Movie", which came out earlier that same year. Doki Denki could have released a pile of garbage, but they went out of their way and made a game that really represents the series it's based on, which is not only astonishing for a children's game, but for licensed games in general.

While Tigger's Honey Hunt may be intended for children, it really is a surprisingly well done 2D platformer, even if it's easy. It's a great fix for those with an N64 who have had their fill of the fully 3D collect-a-thons that plague the system. The graphics are pretty decent and the music is a great fit. It's a great title for kids, fans of Winnie the Pooh and anybody who is looking for an easy platformer. Perhaps it's biggest limitation is the fact that it's a Winnie the Pooh game, but not everything has to be adult-oriented. Not only is Tigger's Honey Hunt good, but going by what I've played of the other Winnie the Pooh games on other systems, Honey Hunt is quite possibly the best Pooh game ever. Tigger's Honey Hunt sells for very low prices, so it's an excellent obscure title for any N64 collection.

Presentation: 8.0
In it's simplicity, Tigger's Honey Hunt represents Winnie the Pooh very well. There's many little nods to other stories in the series and the overall experience feels a lot like the movies.

Graphics: 6.5
Tigger's Honey Hunt isn't exactly the prettiest N64 game, but the graphics quality serves the game well enough. The textures and lighting aren't the best, but the level environments are nice and varied. There's some inexplicable slowdown in places though.

Sound: 7.0
Much like in graphics, the music isn't the best quality, but the content fits the game very well. The compositions may be unique to Tigger's Honey Hunt, but they stand up well against the classic Winnie the Pooh songs.

Gameplay: 7.5
Tigger's Honey Hunt plays like a usual 16-bit platformer and carries the same kind of simple and intiuitive fun. There's things to collect and moves to learn, but nowhere near the scale of games like Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64, which makes this game a relaxing alternative. It's only major problem is that it's very easy and pretty short.

Lasting Appeal: 4.5
Outside the mini-game "Pooh Sticks", which is surprisingly enjoyable with other players, there's little to keep one interested once the main adventure has been 100% completed. The other two mini-games are only fun if you're 6 years old.

Overall: 6.7

Written by Aaron Wilcott
July 17th 2012