The Muppets: On With The Show....And we're done!


Now, I know most people who are reading these reviews skew a little bit older, and I expect each and every one of you to have some treasured memory involving the Muppets. Hell, I’m guessing most kids these days know who the Muppets are, but my question is - what is the general awareness of the actual series of The Muppets Show? Not the recent movies, not their appearances on Sesame Street or anything like that - the actual Muppets Show. Anyways, despite their widespread popularity, they really didn’t receive a gigantic array of video game adaptations. Oh, they got one here and there, usually as one of those dime-a-dozen PC adventure games, or the weirder stuff like that PS1 game featuring Kermit’s nephew, but all and all, not a lot of Muppets games. Of course, that didn’t stop some bigwig from deciding the currently booming handheld of the day - the GBA - didn’t need one, and thus we ended up with The Muppets: On With The Show!, a minigame collection that shows promise whilst holding the core comedic spirit of the Muppets… whilst sadly falling short in any real kind of complexity and having honestly one of the shortest play times I’ve ever seen for any retail game ever.

I love the Muppets. I was born a bit after their biggest boom in popularity, in the mid 90s, so I think they just weren’t really in my cultural zeitgeist as a wee lad. I had Sesame Street, and that was the closest for a while I ever got to the Muppets. But then, as I grew older, my Dad showed me recorded VHS after VHS of the Australian airings of the Muppets show, and I just fell in love with them. I loved Kermit and Beaker at first, but as I’ve grown older I’ve felt more akin to Gonzo, my critical skills to be like Statler and Waldorf, and my humour to be a kindred spirit of Fozzie Bear’s. There’s just very little content like the Muppets that has such a universal appeal, and I think asking someone ‘which Muppet are you most like?’ is perhaps the greatest test of character I can think of. I love the Muppets dearly, and when it came to pick a new game for the Game Boy Abyss, it just happened a commenter on Reddit, after posting a previous review, suggested On With the Show to me. I had no expectations, sans finding some Muppets charm, so what was this game? A grand adventure, featuring the Muppets, perhaps? Or something more… mild.

Well, the fact that I already gave a basic idea of what this game was like in the opening to this review says it all, but play along for a bit, ‘kay?

Don’t expect any wide ranging adventure featuring the Muppets, though, at least from On With The Show! As was common at the time - usually more frequently on home consoles, as they had greater access to multiplayer - The Muppets On With The Show is little more than a collection of minigames, ostensibly ordered to follow what an average night on The Muppets Show would look like. A performance from Kermit, madness from Honeydew, a performance by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem… all it’s missing is a classic, period appropriate guest star to pop in and enjoy the chaos. Man, Christopher Reeve was dreamy in his episode. Uh, anyways, each segment of this ‘episode’ of the Muppets Show is its own minigame which does a great job of embodying said segment. For example, in Kermit’s river performance, he’ll be dodging all the Muppets deciding to ‘guest star’ alongside him, chief among them Miss Piggy, who’ll take him down entirely. Or you have Gonzo’s segment, a vehicle-based segment that, rather than avoiding the obstacles on the field, you’ll be trying to smash everything in The Amazing Gonzo’s path. They’re short and sweet, and sadly a little simplistic, but the short cutscenes that precede and follow them (featuring Statler and Waldorf, my BFFs) do a lot to bring in the good ‘ol Muppets charm.

What really saves this package - and that’s what I’m calling it, a minigame package - is the fact that whilst they’re basic and kind of remind me of a Game and Watch title more than anything, they’re genuinely good fun. Nothing mind blowing, let’s be clear, but there’s a laugh to be had playing as a Maid Marion-esque Miss Piggy, battling a gigantic cavewoman pig to rescue Kermit decked out in armour. Helping Beaker *not* be horribly wounded by Honeydew’s experiments by tossing all manner of junks around, keeping a floating Kermit away from a marauding mermaid Piggy, smashing into walls as Gonzo… they’re all very simple, one or two button trials, but they give me the same kind of basic joy Game and Watch Gallery 3 gave me when I was very, very small. They each have more or less a single mechanic - dodge Miss Piggy as Kermit, get junk off the conveyor belt as Beaker, play a very basic rhythm game as Animal, and so on. Honestly, I think if these had more of a score-based element and had a more open-ended structure to them, like those classic Game and Watch games, since the fact of the matter these are very, very short - usually little more than a minute. I think a kid would get a lot out of this game - anyone looking for something more in depth will probably leave disappointed, but I can imagine a kid playing these games for hours just because it’s the Muppets.

Now, the bottom line of the matter is that this game might be the shortest ‘game’ I’ve ever played. The trip between my workplace and my home is less than thirty minutes - and I was sitting on that bus for at least ten minutes after the credits rolled on this game. I get it’s a minigame collection, I get that it’s not really designed to be played as a traditional game, but good lord, you need SOMETHING to stretch this out. Some more of the witty dialogue, or… or something. Maybe a basic mode where you wander the Muppet Theatre, chat with unseen faves like Sam Eagle or whatnot. If you reeeealy want to, it does have multiple difficulties to tackle, but there’s only so much they can do to make these generally simple tasks provide more value for your time.Additionally, in my ongoing crusade against how stupid password systems are, why does the ‘Adventure’ mode of this game, where you play each minigame in succession, use a goddamn password system? Who’s playing three of these games, deciding to switch off, and *then* deciding it’s time to pick up where you left off? Just play the specific minigame from the menu! Why even IS there a sequential mode to this game? Sure it’s structured like an episode of the Muppets Show, but those cutscenes could’ve easily been incorporated into the minigames themselves. It’s just… baffling. Vicarious Visions made this? Insanity. Honestly, they should’ve just cut the ‘adventure’ mode from the game, as it wouldn’t have left me flabbergasted at its short length.

Easily the highlight for me was the inclusion of Statler and Waldorf after each game, win or lose. If you lose, they’ll slag you off and have a good ‘ol chortle at your expense. And if you win? Well… it’s the exact same. I dunno, I just love ‘em, they’re the most ‘me-core’ Muppets just because I too feel like a dickhead old man who just wants to have a giggle sometime. And in general, as brief as it can be sometimes, Statler and Waldorf’s role in this game kind of exemplifies how this title treats The Muppets. Genuinely, this game really does capture the essence of what makes the Muppets so lovable, at least for me. Hilarious, wacky characters who are just imbued with a sense of charm and endearment that hasn’t really been replicated much in children’s media these days, to say little of media in general. Which, honestly, just makes it all a more the shame of how stingy and transient this collection is. Kids, especially those raised up on the Muppets, probably will get enough joy to play some of these minigames again and again, but otherwise, I think this is a real one-and-done experience; worth your time for a laugh and a smile, but the sheer simplicity and transience of the experience really keeps it from being anything more than that.

And despite its short length, the audio-visual experience of the game is actually pretty respectful to its source material. Most of the Muppets aren’t sprites, but the kind of 2.5d models you’ll see pop up from time to time on the GBA. They aren’t amazing, but the way they bob around really gives them the bumbling energy so inherent to the Muppets. The music is surprisingly good, too, having a kind of Banjo-Kazooie vibe which, if you know me, is aaaalways a plus in my book.

Y’know, once I closed the book on this game, I thought I’d be a lot harsher on it. Of course, I’m writing this review from the perspective of someone who *cough* *cough* did not play for it, but the fact that it was so, so short really threw me off. But as I thought about it more, whilst it’s simplistic and short and all that… It's genuinely a really good tribute to the Muppets. But even if it’s fun enough, the problems subsist to make this nothing more than a middling experience. It’s frustrating, because a more fleshed out Muppets experience really could’ve rocketed up there as one of the better experiences on the GBA, but considering our only Muppets related options are On With the Show and The Spy Who Croaked, I just wish we had something - anything - a little more… more? Am I just setting myself up for disappointment playing all these terrible GBA games, hoping for something better? Ah well. On With The Show!

Thank you so much for reading! Next review is the big #40, and to celebrate this milestone, and with the coming release of Tears of the Kingdom next week, I’ll be reviewing The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, so look forward to that! As always, you can find me over at Twitter @Lemmy7003 or you can email me at if you have any questions or requests. Thanks again for reading, and I’ll see you in my next review!