tiistai 14. lokakuuta 2014

REVIEW - The Addams Family | GB | 1992

GENRE(S): Platformer
RELEASED: January 1992
DEVELOPER(S): Ocean Software
PUBLISHER(S): Ocean Software

Back to the family - seemingly for the last time - to check out a couple of odd handheld games based on Charles Addams' strange and very macabre, but surprisingly functional comic book family, or more precisely, Barry Sonnenfeld's 1991 film adaptation. Five different versions of the video game license were produced, of which I've already done two. The third and last one I have access to, at least at the moment, is the Game Boy-exclusive iteration, which was among the first, if not THE first Addams Family game directly based on the film. It's very similar to its NES and SNES counterparts, but it has its own quirks. Terrible ones, but the game is not utterly unplayable as a whole. In that sense, it also follows the Addams Family video game code.

Black, white and kooky

The Addams family has been evicted from their mansion by the devious lawyer Tully Alford and goes missing while attempting to re-negotiate with the man - with the exception of the family's eccentric patriarch Gomez, who heads back to the mansion to save his loved ones. The more danger and death awaits him, the better - he was getting bored anyway.

Though I've never had too much fun with any Addams Family-related game, I feel a certain sort of giddiness every time I take on one or two games in a franchise I started dissecting back in the earliest days of this blog. It always bedazzles me when I think how much time has passed and how much everything's changed during that time, in many senses. Can't say I believed or even dared to hope that my fast judgement towards these games would've changed, or that an Addams Family game on a Game Boy would be any better than any of the games I've played on the NES or SNES, but I guess I hoped it to be decent; although mediocre all the way, the Addams Family games I've reviewed this far have been far from the bottom end. The Addams Family on the Game Boy is, as I feared, the worst iteration of the first film's license I've played thus far - but, as I hoped, it's not an utterly unplayable game, just even less playable than the big boys.

Teddy gone bad. Nice shadow.
The game looks the ugliest of 'em all, which is kinda obvious, but really, there's no explaining the emptiness of the backgrounds when gameplay's still compromised with the Game Boy's usual problems. The presentation is so off-key it hurts; the boss design is the most ridiculous out of all the games, and Gomez looks more like Marlon Brando in The Godfather than the sleek Addams patriarch played by Raul Julia. "Kiss the ring." Surprisingly diverse music, though, especially on this platform - I was expecting a maximum of three different tunes. It's nothing special, but I gotta tip my invisible hat to the game having at least one over the bigger releases.

Like the NES and SNES releases, The Addams Family is an open-world platformer - which sounds much cooler than it actually is. There's a certain pattern you must follow to simply be able to beat the game - the open-world schematic is for children that are small enough to not care whether they're able to beat the game or not. To us children who are grown up a little, it's a fuck to hack through a long, repetitive level just to get impaled by the fact that the only weapon in your inventory does not work at all on the boss, and at that point, the only way to exit the situation is to intentionally rally for a Game Over, as you're stuck on the boss you can't beat as long as you have lives left. Well, at least the checkpoint system works, huh? ...No smart-ass comment here, it really does. It's just the wrong time and place for a decent system.

Devil went down to the Boiler
Every time you beat a boss, you save one of the family members, and gain a new weapon. Jumping on enemies doesn't always work and when it does - it's really quite random, there's no distinction between enemies you can or can't jump on - it merely stuns them and you need a weapon with its own power meter to really dispose of 'em. Generally you should just dodge the enemies and save your weapon meter for the boss fights. The weapons are split up into two categories: shit and shitter, also known as ranged and melee, in that order. Whenever you get hit, you start flashing like in any old platformer - except in boss fights where you take continual damage as long as you remain in contact with the boss - but occasionally the flash stops you from moving, and your weapons stop working. Projectiles can actually disappear into thin air in mid-screen, and melee weapons are just simply useless, their range is less than pathetic. Wait 'til you get to the swimming part to get a true feel of how mediocre the gameplay is. Gomez doesn't actually even swim, he merely floats, and you have to use the digital pad to keep him off instantly lethal hazards. It's even way worse than it sounds.

"These games are hardly spooky, but I guess they're kinda kooky / they're altogether ooky, the Addams family!" This is me finding my inner poet at 5 A.M.. The Addams Family on the Game Boy is indeed thus far the most hopeless case in the surprisingly long line of different games based on the first film, but not from the most unplayable end of the whole franchise. I'd take this one's mediocrity over the utter pile that is Fester's Quest any day. That's the biggest compliment I can give it, and it's not even a very light one in my view.

+ Hmm... generally harmless?
+ A fair checkpoint system, technically speaking

- Looks the least legit out of the many different games under the same title
- The controls and gameplay, most of all underwater

< 4.9 >

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