Name: The Addams Family
Format: Super Nintendo
Region Reviewed: PAL
Year of Release: 1992 (UK)
For my first review I decided to go back to the very beginning of my SNES adventure. That date was 15th April 1993, better known as my 12th birthday. My parents had kindly bought me the SNES and made my gaming dreams come true however it was ‘sans game’. Luckily I had received some birthday money, therefore I set off for my local Dixon’s store to pick what was to be my first game.
Now this was in the early days of the consoles lifespan with the games retailing from £39.99 upwards. As my excited eyes gazed over the selection on offer to me they set upon The Addams Family and what was this? It was only £29.99! Sensing a bargain and knowing how much I loved the Barry Sonnenfeld movie, I had no hesitation in handing over the money…to my mum, who then paid the nice Dixon’s worker person.
The screenshots on the back of the box looked nothing short of stunning to my untrained 12 year old eyes. I don’t really remember what other games were on offer that day but I didn’t really care; I had made my choice, and I was more than happy with it. The game still has a very special place in my retro heart, being as it was, my introduction to the world of Super Nintendo, and I genuinely believe it is an underrated and often overlooked little platformer.
On loading the game you are greeted by the Ocean logo. Ocean of course were already synonymous with movie tie-in games such as Robocop, Rambo 3 and Batman (all of which I had owned on the C64 and loved). They programmed games for all the popular systems of the time and this was one of their first forays into the world of the 16 bit Super Nintendo. Once the Ocean logo disappears you are then taken through a well animated intro with Thing enticing you into his box (ahem) and straight to the menu screen which features a SNES chip rendition of that famous Vic Mizzy theme song.
The story itself sees you take control of Gomez Addams (who’s sprite is more John Astin than Raul Julia) in an attempt to rescue the members of his kidnapped family from the clutches of various end of level bosses which include a witch, goblin, snowman, dragon, crazy scientist and the bad judge. This was obviously Ocean taking a little artistic licence with the game as apart from the judge I don’t recall any of the other characters appearing in the movie! Upon defeating a boss your delighted family member is sent to Lurch who is waiting in his piano room ready to play a little ditty to mark their recent rescue. The ditty starts off with slightly sinister undertones before meandering into a goofy finale. Bizarre but ‘all together ooky’. Morticia, the love of Gomez’ life, can only be rescued once the other family members are safe and she is guarded by the bad judge (the angry neighbour in the movie).
Now, so far this sounds like your run of the mill platform game and why would you waste your time and money on this when you could have the king of all platform games, Super Mario World. Well, as you begin to get more into the game and scratch the cutesy colourful surface a little, what you find yourself faced with is a non-linear and very challenging platformer which offers not only the Addams Family mansion to explore but also a very vast outdoor area consisting of caves, graveyards and gardens. There is no apparent set route or order to play the game and although this can be a little overwhelming to begin with (I remember aimlessly wondering around for a good hour or so before finally making some headway) overall it gives you a great deal of freedom and challenge which rewards the exploration of every nook and cranny.
The main hub of the game is the ‘hall of stairs’ section of the mansion which contains 6 doors (and a secret hidden door *wink wink*), with each leading to a different level at the end of which, you have a family member waiting or an extra heart for your health meter (located at the end of sub-levels). Trust me you will need those extra hearts because although the difficulty level is pitched just right, if you’re not careful you will find yourself dying quite often. The mild frustration of this however is offset with a very welcome password system and an abundance of secrets and bonus rooms from which you can collect extra lives and gather money which fills your empty heart containers and earns you 1-Ups. You also have infinite continues, however you will be deposited back at the hall of stairs so any progress you have made on a particular level will be lost. Be warned, this is the most frustrating aspect of the game.
Gomez is also assisted on his quest by various baddy killing power ups such as golf balls and a sword (both loose references to the movie) as well as handy hints and tips from Thing who appears throughout the game in red boxes marked with an ‘A’. All of this coupled with a smooth and responsive control system means the game never feels like a chore. The graphics, whilst not fully exploiting the SNES’ capabilities are colourful, chunky and cute, with lush backgrounds and interesting enemies, especially those aforementioned big bosses. Each member of the titular family are well animated and instantly recognisable although you do not see them except for the boss battles and immediate aftermath.
Ocean’s Jonathan Dunn (he of ‘Ocean Loader 4’ fame) provides the game with some light hearted level music, culminating in a more urgent and dramatic score when the level boss appears. It makes me feel very nostalgic but then most of Jonathan Dunn’s work does. If you think that you can just pick up and play The Addams Family then you are vastly mistaken. This game is designed to reward those players who want to put the time and effort into it. Whilst experienced gamers may complete it in a week or two, the extensive levels, secret rooms and user friendly controls should keep you coming back long after you think you are done with it.
Verdict:- As far as movie tie-in games go, this has to be up there with the best (which I realise is not saying much). The Super Nintendo had an abundance of platform games but Addams Family had enough unique points to elevate it above the average ones.
The more time you give it, the more rewarding it is. I urge you to give it a go; you may be surprised by what you find.
Second Opinion:- When Transbot first played this game he was also pleased even if it was as hard as nails.
The graphics were lovely even if they did feel more at home on an Amiga than a snes and it absolutely had those floaty controls Transbot finds sometimes annoying for platformers. The game itself seemed huge maybe because it was very tricky but if you had the patience this was a bit of a corker all round and the sound was really great, a bit of a hidden gem if you ask me.
Transbot Scores:- 6 out of 10