perjantai 7. lokakuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Addams Family (1992)

GENRE(S): Platform
RELEASED: January 1992
DEVELOPER(S): Ocean Software, Arc Developments (GG, SMS)
PUBLISHER(S): Ocean Software, Flying Edge (GEN, GG, SMS)

In 1932, cartoonist Charles Addams created The Addams Family, a very tight bunch of macabre delinquents that no one in the "real world" really understood. In 1964, he was contacted by TV producer David Levy, who asked him to rewrite the characters to have enough unique personalities to carry their own TV sitcom. The Addams Family became a cult favourite, but never really a national phenomenon as far as ratings went, due to half of the potential target group preferring The Munsters, a very similar show that ran concurrently with it. The Addams Family's popularity and global fame reached several whole new heights with 1991's full-length movie directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. The first Addams Family-related game, Fester's Quest, had been released even before the movie was confirmed to be in the works, but the final release of the movie offered video game companies an opportunity to truly cash in on the franchise. Ocean Software, who were already responsible for many forgettable movie licenses such as Highlander, Rambo, Short Circuit, Cobra, Platoon, The Untouchables, Darkman and Hudson Hawk, but were still a company that occasionally seemed to learn at least something from their mistakes, got the job of making 11 out of 12 home video games based on the first Addams Family movie. We already (man)handled the 16-bit version a year back; now it's time for me to put my best Gomez face on once again, and take on its 8-bit counterpart. In the end, I'm looking more like Lurch.

We're going to play a game called "Is There a God?"

Gomez Addams and his family have been evicted from their mansion by the devious lawyer Tully Alford. Gomez sets out to rescue the members of his family, who disappeared when they went back to the mansion to renegotiate, and attempts to raise the funds to buy back his home at the same time.

What a lovely family.
The manual says: "Satisfaction guaranteed! If, for some reason, you find this game a) unpleasant, b) boring, c) unfair, or d) all of the above, we're going to send Christina Ricci to your home in an approximate 20 years, and she is obligated by signed contract to engage in any sort of sexual activity you can possibly imagine in your perverted mind. This is exactly how much we believe in the amazing quality of our product. - With best regards, Ocean Software." Oops, there I go with my imagination again... if the manual would indeed state something like this, I would be a winner... then again, so would thousands of other people on the planet, a fact that kind of pisses on the fire. The Addams Family on the NES isn't quite as bad as I thought it would be, but for the most part it's most definitely unpleasant, boring and unfair. Basically, it's a generic platformer and a movie license with all of the worst qualities from each, stuck in a frame that isn't too promising to begin with.

The graphics aren't all that bad; the game has a certain aura of true attempt, if nothing else. Gomez looks like a retard with a dislocated jaw and a fake moustache, but all in all, I have nothing really nasty to say about the look of the game - after all, they left out some really dumb ideas and designs that didn't become reality before the 16-bit versions, such as the ridiculous flying cap. The Addams Family theme song plays throughout the overworld and indoor portions of the game, it only stops when you go underground or into a cellar - in which some really familiar tune plays. I wonder where they stole that from? Anyway, the game doesn't really shine when it comes to the music. The sound effect of your health draining is dastardly, and one that you'll be hearing often.

Take two guesses what I imagined "The Bone
Room" to be like.
This is just in: I've been really mean lately. I'm sorry, and to make it up for every single one of you who thinks so, let me start off by saying something nice about The Addams Family. For an 8-bit game, it gives the player an impressive amount of freedom to explore the mansion and its grounds, and it's not even just artificial, as there is no real "filler corner" in the whole game. Plus, you can really do things in the order you want... as long as you do all of them. Your primary goal is to raise one million dollars in cash, but that's not nearly enough. You must still save each and every member of your family by going on errands straight out of Simon's Quest - not as long or cryptic, though - and do everything else in the game to reach the one and only ending. Well, how hard can that be? You have no idea.

Sudden deaths, check. Open a seemingly harmless door to fall straight into a pit with spikes. No questions asked, no mercy given. Invisible hazards, check. You never know exactly what can and what can't be harmful to you. Hairy controls, check. The controls are simple enough, since you cannot shoot any projectiles or anything like that; the main way to dispose of enemies is to jump on them - how original. Be careful, though - the half-assed programming has a tendency to make Gomez fall straight through some very basic enemies like those ghosts on the graveyard and "inside them", with him suffering damage in their stead. Get this: you don't get any cooldown periods after hitting someone or something. You take damage constantly if you come into hazardous contact, right up until the point you either manage to break free or drop dead. Last but not least, the cliche of stuffing everything from every platformer that ever was into one game, regardless if it fits the context or not, or if you're able to handle it with controls and physics this lacking or not, BIG CHECK. Flying bastards, ice, damn near impossible jumps, the constant need for perfect timing which is simply impossible to have on your side the whole time. If only Mario was here - this game would be over quickly. And much less painfully.

Yep, they even managed to ruin The Addams
further by adding an ice level.
Some of the game's better qualities - if you still can't believe it does have them - include tolerable checkpoints, and three continues by default. However, as making progress will reveal to you in a very short while, you are bound to lose your lives at such a pace it doesn't matter if you had 99 of them. The game is full of trial and error, and it just keeps getting worse all the time. I personally wouldn't blame you for using a cheat code for infinite lives. When you lose a life, you restart from the last exit. When you lose three lives, you restart from the first screen of the game. When you lose all of your nine lives, well, I reckon you won't be playing the game for too much longer, especially if you already made it relatively far. So, on my account, it's not cheating if you do it to save your sanity as well as the faintest respect you have for this product.

The Addams Family is far from the least playable movie license out there, and I think it stands up quite well to its 16-bit counterpart if one of them absolutely must be chosen for one more round - of course I hope that day never comes. The game is not nearly as bad or completely forgettable, desperate entertainment as it was perfectly natural for me to expect to be, but I definitely wouldn't go calling it an overlooked gem. 

SOUND : 5.5


GameRankings: 57.50% (GB), 60.00% (GEN), 67.50% (SNES)

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