NewKidCo, developer of Tom & Jerry: Fists of Furry, has a history of focusing its attention on a younger crowd - the company's name alone gives notice of this. But unlike NewKidCo's usual fare targeted at the Sesame Street crowd, Tom & Jerry: Fists of Furry is an entertaining diversion for both the young and old.
At its core, Fists of Furry is a simplified version of Capcom's Power Stone. You and an opponent face off against each other in an arena. However, using the terms "Fists of Furry" and "fight system" in the same sentence is a shaky proposition at best, as the fight system consists of a single attack button. Each character has slightly different strengths and weaknesses, but the real focus in Fists of Furry is projectiles. Various items native to each environment can be picked up and hurled at your opponent, and if your opponent has good timing, he can catch them, and hurl them back at you. This can make for some interesting back and forth, as the constant abundance of items keeps you busy throwing, dodging, and countering projectiles. There are also standard power-ups, such as invincibility and invisibility, and special weapons that can be used to suck the life out of your opponent. The gameplay is, on a whole, simple, but it works. Throws, jumps, and punches are responsive and tight, though the characters' momentum can work against them, as a sudden stop or a turn in the opposite direction can take a few beats to negotiate.
The game carries its Tom & Jerry license with competence. The fighters are all regulars from the popular cartoon series, including Tom, Jerry, Butch, Spike, Tike, Tuffy, Toodles, and Duckling. While you might not be acquainted with them by name, you might recognize them when you see them: the ornery bulldog, the scrappy duckling, and so on. The fights are all staged in environments found in the series, such as in barnyards, in various parts of suburban homes, and in a mad scientist's laboratory. These environments, as well as the fighters themselves, look good. The characters fairly represent their cartoon equivalents, and they are well animated, while the environments are bright, colorful, and, well, cartoony. The music in Fists of Furry completes the cartoon-inspired package, as all the music is either inspired by or taken directly from old Tom & Jerry cartoons, with a prominent focus on '40s jazz.
Tom & Jerry: Fists of Furry controls well, looks good, and generally keeps you aware that you are indeed playing a Tom & Jerry game. Unfortunately, the road to hilarious bodily harm is not without its bumps. The biggest problem is the game's difficulty balance - it can't seem to decide if it's a kids game or not. For starters, the game offers you Tom & Jerry as the only playable characters from the get-go; the rest of the crew have to be unlocked. Secondly, the AI that you battle against during a single-player match does not line up with the game's simple control system and can at times be vicious and unrelenting in its attacks. Also, a four-player game would have been a nice inclusion and would have added significantly more value to the game than the included two-player matches. But, as a whole, Tom & Jerry: Fists of Furry is a game that is accessible enough for the younger crowd, yet it still packs enough challenge and quality production that more mature gamers will appreciate it too.