Kaze and the Wild Masks

Everybody is saying it: Kaze and the Wild Masks reminds them of Donkey Kong Country for SNES. And, I mean, the similarities are hard to ignore. The game is set in a jungle, features an anthropomorphic critter as a protagonist, and even has that character collecting the letters K A Z E (which look suspiciously similar to the letters K O N G, which you collect in Donkey Kong Country).

The thing is, I was a Genesis kid. I cut my gaming teeth on classics like Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Streets of Rage. While I did play a little bit of Donkey Kong Country in my formative years, I never had the opportunity to really sink my teeth into it.

So my point of reference for Kaze and the Wild Masks is something completely different — something that might come as a surprised to anyone who didn’t grow up with a Sega Genesis as their primary console. Kaze and the Wild Masks actually reminds me of a long-forgotten gem of a game called Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster’s Hidden Treasure.

A hidden treasure indeed, Buster’s Hidden Treasure put you in the shoes of Buster from the hit TV series Tiny Toon Adventures. The gameplay was tight, the level design was really good, and the music was incredible. It released in 1993, and even though there was a Tiny Toons game on SNES, the Genesis version was an entirely different game, as this episode of Console Wars explains:

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the Tiny Toons cartoon (DuckTales was more my jam back then), Buster’s Hidden Treasure was one of my favorite games on the Genesis. In fact, I would probably put it in my top ten games for the console. It was easily the game I rented the most times from our local video rental shop. (Most Genesis games were a one-time rental for me, though a few were two-timers. But I would rent Buster’s Hidden Treasure over and over again, scrawling down passwords on pieces of scrap paper so I could pick up right where I left off.)

Now, I admit that Kaze and the Wild Masks is much more Donkey Kong than Tiny Toons. This is particularly true in the way levels are laid out horizontally without much in the way of verticality (Buster’s Hidden Treasure had some really great vertical stage layouts). Plus, Kaze‘s background jams are suspiciously hesitant to make liberal use of synth bends.

However, when I see that anthropomorphic rabbit — especially the ear animations — I’m overcome with a nostalgic glee.

Oh, and check out this bonus stage from Kaze and the Wild Masks:

Kaze and the Wild Masks

Compare that to this stage from Buster’s Hidden Treasure:

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure

I’m definitely justified in pointing out the similarities, right?

If you have legal access to the Genesis game library (ahem), you really need to track down Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster’s Hidden Treasure as soon as you can (and this is especially true if you’ve been having a blast with Kaze and the Wild Masks). This is one Genesis classic that needs to be un-forgotten.

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