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I rarely watch TV anymore. Any shows I do like I either stream or buy the physical versions. Television shows, and specifically cartoons, have really gone downhill over the years. You got some good ones out there but none that match the quality of the classics like Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry. Although not a cartoon, I think if Keeping Up with the Kardashians involved someone beating the shit out of Kim with a frying pan, accompanied by awesome music and silly sound effects, it might actually interest me. Even if that did become a reality it still wouldn’t be as good as classic cartoons. Tom and Jerry in Fists of Furry is like an arena style brawler developed by NewKidCo. and released in 2000 for the Nintendo 64. With characters and environments from the Tom and Jerry cartoons, this game is all about beating the shit out of these characters. That classic cartoon violence.
There’s absolutely no story in this game but there is several modes to play through. It’s obvious that Fists of Furry is multiplayer focused but, luckily, it can still be enjoyed via single player and that’s also where you will unlock characters. Each match is one on one and you must win a majority of the rounds to win the match. Each round is timed and you can adjust the time limit, how many rounds, and the difficulty, in the options menu. There’s seven characters total. You start out with Tom and Jerry and unlock the others by beating the single player mode. You’ve got Spike and Tike, Duckling, Butch, and Tuffy. Beat it with one character to unlock another, so on and so forth. There’s ten levels total but you can’t actually choose your opponents or the levels in the single player mode.
The idea of the game is to just beat the shit out of your opponent in that classic cartoon way. You’ve got your basic punches and kicks but it’s the weapons and objects that do the real damage. The levels are pretty small and weapons and objects will spawn in different parts of the level. The type of weapons and objects all depend on the theme of the level which is actually a neat touch. Everything is pulled right from the cartoons and the dedication to the source material is actually really appreciated. It really is fantastic. Things will fall on their heads and their asses will catch fire from environmental hazards like a hot stove or a fireplace, they’ll be flattened like pancakes, they’ll see stars when hit hard enough, and it’s the little things like that… well that are apparently too violent for children to watch now. Now I grew up in the 90s, and while the cartoons were pretty great, I really loved watching the reruns of classics like Tom and Jerry and still enjoy watching them to this day. And, honestly, this game is one of the best video games based on a cartoon that I’ve ever played.
Now there’s a difference between weapons and objects but they can both be used to damage your opponent. Basically, weapons you can pick up and hold, and objects can be picked up and thrown or launched at an opponent. You can only smack your opponent with a weapon three times before it disappears. Once an object is launched and breaks, it disappears as well. Get hit enough times while holding a weapon and you’ll lose it. Same principle for objects. The amount of weapons and objects in this game is actually quite impressive. I mean you’ll be throwing garbage cans and horseshoes, and then next thing you know you’ll be bashing your opponent’s head in with pots and pans, and then maybe a candy cane. It’s fucking great.
In addition to the weapons and objects are question marks that spawn around the levels and these grant you different abilities for a limited time. These include a shield, higher damage output, a poison cloud, and invisibility which is almost useless. Even when invisible, you can clearly see the character and the only benefit of it, that I noticed, is that the other character will have a harder time throwing objects accurately. When you throw an object, there’s like this auto-aim thing going on so it’s pretty easy to hit your opponent. Being invisible kind of eliminates the auto-aim for the other visible character.
In an effort to match the wacky cartoon style, the levels have silly names, or in this case puns, and it just made me chuckle. Names like Bomb Voyage, The Mice Before Christmas, Duck-Duck Loose, just shit like that. It’s fantastic.
As awesome as this game is, it’s not perfect. You can’t really block attacks or physically defend yourself. You can kind of perform a combo using your basic attacks by mashing the attack button but you have no real way to get out of it when an opponent does it to you. Thrown objects can actually be caught if you press a button at the right time and it’s not hard but it may take new players a few tries to get it right. You can throw them back and sometimes it’s like you’re playing catch before somebody actually gets hit. But this little mechanic will become imperative in the later levels. If you can’t master catching objects, you’re almost guaranteed to lose the later matches. Around level three I notice the difficulty starts to ramp up, and it’s obvious. Your opponents always seem to get their punches in first, they’ll start catching almost everything you throw at them, and they’ll be throwing shit at you left and right. There’s no real depth to the fighting. It’s kind of like whoever picks up the best weapons first is going to win, as long as they can land the attacks, which really isn’t hard. Considering the AI opponents seem to prioritize the question marks, more than anything, and don’t always go for the best weapon or object nearby, after mastering the catching mechanic, the game feels really easy at times. And I’m talking about on both Medium and Hard difficulty modes.
Single player only consists of five levels so it’s rather short. After the first level you’ll be fighting two opponents per level until the final level when you fight three, the third being the final boss. The final boss is either giant Jerry or invisible Tom. They don’t have unique attacks or anything and they’re just harder to beat. They always seem to land the first punch and catch everything you throw at them. It really just boils down to running away and finding weapons to beat them with. Every now and then I was able to successfully hit them with a thrown object.
Another problem is that the characters don’t have enough differences and, essentially, all the play the same. The smaller characters can move around faster and every character but Spike seems to deal the same amount of damage from their punches and kicks. Spike definitely does more damage with his physical attacks and can even flatten his opponents at the end of his combo. It’s obvious that he’s overpowered.
Other than the single player are two other modes. Versus and Teamplay. Versus is one on one, you vs the AI or another player. Teamplay Mode is only unlocked after beating the game with Spike. Teamplay allows you to choose up to four characters and battle it out against another team of four, either AI or another player. If a team’s character is defeated, the next one comes in. If all of a team’s characters are defeated, they lose. Simple. Both of these modes enable you to choose a character and then a raise or lower your power level, which means how much damage output you can do per attack. The AI, in these modes, is nowhere near as challenging as the AI in the later levels of the single player. Even on the Hard difficulty setting, they rarely catch objects which actually makes a big difference since you can pretty much hit them with anything you throw. Lowering the power level all the way down doesn’t help either. It just makes matches last longer. Another issue I have with these modes is that you can’t choose your AI opponents. So that kind of sucks. Also, only two opponents can battle at a time. It would have been nice if maybe up to three or four could duke it out at once, but oh, well. At least these modes allow you to choose a level to battle in. So that’s something.
There’s a few in-game cheats you can unlock but they’re not all that interesting. There’s only three and two of them adjust the size of the characters. The third one just lowers the gravity. They definitely don’t add any replay value or anything like that and the novelty wears off after using them for the first time.
One thing I really have to praise in this game is the soundtrack. It’s just incredible. This is one game where I would agree that Slayer is not needed. The music consists of these amazing Jazz or Big Band tunes that just sound awesome. It’s like exactly what you would hear in the cartoons. The music is catchy and memorable and I think it’s one of the greatest soundtracks in video games. I should also mention that there is a sequel to this game called Tom and Jerry in War of the Whiskers, for the next gen series of consoles, and that, too, has an amazing soundtrack.
Tom and Jerry in Fists of Furry is one of the greatest games based on cartoon, ever. The dedication to the source material is incredible, even if gameplay itself lacks any kind of depth. You’ve got a small cast of classic characters and I think some more would have been nice. The levels are great, the soundtrack is great, and it’s just a silly good time. As a kid, I probably would have played this for hours and enjoyed every minute of it. But I can see how it may not hold many player’s attention’s for long. It’s a fun game and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre or cartoons in general. If you do not like Tom and Jerry, you have a fucking problem.