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  • Tengen
  • Atari
  • Action - General, Other
  • 1989
  • 2
  • No
  • 5
  • $8.00
  • ?
5  |  Toobin': The Best and Worst Inner Tube Racing Game Ever
Scoots , 1/14/2003 10:34:57 AM
Tengen released Atari’s Toobin’for the NES in ’89. It was a port of the popular arcade title that featured racing action down a variety of tortuously twisting rivers in—you guessed it—an inner tube. I can remember this game pretty vividly in the arcade; the cabinet was bedizened with colorful graphics of alligators, raging rivers, and tube-riders. They also had this motorized drum setup in the top that was supposed to simulate a waterfall. The look and details of the game clearly heralded its origin—this was an Atari gem from the same team responsible for classics like Paperboy and 720 Degrees. I was looking forward to playing the NES port with the same sense of excitement one might have in seeing an old girlfriend after ten years—is she still going to be wearing that tight old Ramones t-shirt? Will she still laugh at all my stupid jokes and brush the hair out of her face in that special way?

Hell no, she won’t! That girl got fat and now screams at her unwashed children to stop making so much racket while mommy watches “her stories.” Toobin’ for Nintendo left me with a similar sense of disappointment and vague despair. Gone are many of the funny and brilliant flourishes. Gone are the between-round beach parties which would get bigger as your score grew. Gone is your opponent, making this one of the most questionable “racing” games I’ve ever played. Gone is the 8 bucks I spent on the cart at EB…

One of the aspects of the arcade game that always would draw attention was the weird control setup—no joystick, just 5 buttons: Forward Right, Forward Left, Backward Right, Backward Left, and Throw. The buttons correspond to your hands as you paddle yourself down the river in your tube or throw a soda can at obstacles along the way. It took a lot of practice (and quarters) to become adept enough to get down the river. The NES port completely does away with this major source of the game’s charm and uniqueness. Now you just use the directional pad to move and the A and B buttons throw to the left and right. Boooring.

Graphically, the game is nothing special. It’s a major step down from the arcade version. The music isn’t half bad though, and actually includes several different songs for the different rivers, which include the Rio Grande, Nile, and….Jurassic?. While there’s still some cool stuff to see, without an opponent or even a time limit to race against, this game just feels incomplete, like you’re in practice mode the whole time. I generously rate it a 5 based on my fond memories of the arcade machine.

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