“Defenders of the Universe” – The Unreleased “Tiny Toon Adventures” Game for PS2, GameCube
Thirty years ago this week (14 September 1990, to be exact), the first episode of Tiny Toon Adventures television show premiered. To commemorate this landmark anniversary, we’re highlighting a piece of Tiny Toons vaporware from the early 2000’s.
Tiny Toon Adventures: Defenders of the Universe (also named as Defenders of the Loony-verse and Acme Invaders during development) was announced for the PlayStation 2 in 2001. Developed by legendary Japanese game developer Treasure and intended to be published by Conspiracy Games, the multiplayer battle game was scheduled for a Spring 2002 release. An issue of Nintendo Power also listed Defenders of the Universe, which suggested that a Nintendo GameCube version was probably in the works, too.
After a series of delays, the game still showed signs of life as late as 2004. However, despite reportedly being 100% complete, given an ESRB rating, and shown on retail listings, the release was eventually abandoned without explanation.
Many of the surviving voice actors from the Tiny Toons television series lent their voices to Defenders fo the Universe, including Charlie Adler as Buster Bunny, Tress MacNeille as Babs Bunny (no relation), and and Joe Alaskey as Plucky Duck.
The plot of Defenders of the Universe centers on Montana Max comandeering and alien army to take over the planet Gold Star, a planet made almost entirely out of gold located in the Jewel System. Two of the Bullions, Zig and Zag, manage to escape to Earth, where they ask Buster Bunny and co. for help. Despite Shirley the Loon’s warning that a great danger will fall upon the earth if they help the Bullions, Buster, Babs, Plucky and Hampton still decide to help them out.
This gameplay is similar to Japanese PSone game, Rakugaki Showtime, also developed by Treasure. Each stage is a four-player battle arena, and the characters leap and grab projectiles and then toss them back at enemies, much like a supercharged dodgeball game (with a dodgeball game being the first stage). Your special attacks summon other Tiny Toons cast members to assist your team. These bulk of the stages are designed to spoof of popular movies such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc., with nearly 50 stages in total.
According to Conspiracy executive producer Dan Jevons:
“The most impressive technical feat, in my mind, is simply the sheer amount of activity you can have onscreen at any one time with no slowdown… Four players, dozens of enemies and items, explosions, aiming arrows, destructible scenery, moving platform, and squashing Plucky into a Frisbee then flinging him at an enemy is pretty darn funny!”
So what happened? The truth has never been revealed. Were there licensing issues between Warner Bros. and Conspiracy Games? Did the inclusion of so many “spoof” style stages cause additional headaches regarding IP rights? It’s possible that Conspiracy was never happy with the game in its final form, or that the Tiny Toons brand was too old to be much worth by the time the game was ready.
Fortunately, if you’re willing to sail the high seas of the darker areas of the Internet, you can find a fully playable prototype of Tiny Toon Adventures: Defenders of the Universe which will play using a modded PS2 or a PS2 emulator.
Thanks for reading – and happy anniversary, Tiny Toon Adventures! If you want to celebrate the show’s anniversary further, you can read our reviews of Buster’s Hidden Treasure on SEGA Genesis here and Buster Busts Loose for Super NES here.