Genre: Platformer Developer: Ocean Publisher: Ocean Players: 1 Released: 1994
The year is 1994, and by now UK Publisher Ocean is known around the world for its work on licensed games. One in particular that stood out was a release by the name of The Addams Family, a wacky platformer which tended to stray away from normal run and jump conventions. The following year Ocean Released Addams Family Values to Pal regions (maybe Sega Channel?) to coincide with the sequel to the box office smash. Very few Sega-16 members know much about the game, much less had the dedication to finish it. This is a game so mysterious that it could make Robert Stack cringe at the lack of details. Fortunately for you Sega-16 members, and much to my misfortune, I have sat down and finished this elusive game. What’s it all about? Is it a good or a bad game? I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s not perfect. So, let’s all grab our striped tuxedos and head to the party known as Addams Family Values.
The game follows the plot of the movie very loosely as Debbie Jellinsky steals away Baby Pubert and locks the Addams out of their own home. To seal the deal, Debbie has unleash hordes of supernatural creatures to do her bidding (She must have found Granny’s Necronomicon lying around) and Uncle Fester is the only Addams competent to stop her. It would seem that the premise for the game is better than the movie. I mean, let’s face it, the Addams are essentially at war! How does this all translate into a game? Well, storywise it’s a good premise for a game but a bit stale for those who have seen the first Addams movie. Why would anybody want a house where all the furniture could potentially kill you? I guess we’ll just leave our logic at the door.
At first glance, the game appears to be a Zelda knock off. You may be right, but many will also argue that it’s a spiritual successor to Sunsoft’s 1989 classic, Fester’s Quest. At this point no one is wrong, but I will lean towards the game following in latter’s shoes in terms of difficulty, and here is why. First off, from the very first screen you must engage the first dungeon, a pre-dungeon if you will, and battle the gatekeeper to advance past the first screen, meaning your first enemy is essentially a boss. You’ll meet a plethora of confusing bosses such as a stone tree in which you need to knock off a plateau.
This kind of puzzle solving and confusion will be relevant throughout the entire game. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the overworld is GIGANTIC! You will find yourself walking in circles at times as these giant maps count as one screen at a time. To add insult to injury, the map given to you by Gomez is basically useless. The main strike against the gameplay you will notice is that is a hassle to find your next destination; what would count as an entire area in Zelda is just one screen In AFV. Throw in a bunch of misleading and puzzling ways to exit said screens, and you have yourself a very confusing overworld. Do you think Fester enjoys getting himself lost?
Fester’s Quest was famous for its sometimes useless weaponry and lack of health. The trend continues as your attack is a bolt of lightning you can shoot from your hands. After ONE hit your blue lightning will recede to a weaker green up until you reach near death ,where your lightning can almost no longer defend you from your attacker. Later, you may find some more useful weapons to help you should your lightning become as useless as a paperweight, but don’t expect to find health often, sometimes even at all. This setback alone is what will make this game hard to finish. You will receive passwords at random times, depending at what point of the game you’re at, and places from Cousin It. These passwords are large and confusing unless you have a plasma screen TV/Monitor, and chances are you will write down the wrong letter or number and the large gargoyle at the password screen will laugh at you, hence the reason I use save states. Most of this game’s menus just straight up scare me.
The controls in AFV are very precise and accurate with every button pressed. A note best saved for right here is that Fester moves significantly slower than anything in the game, with the notable exception of the NPCs. While this setback usually would hurt Fester the same way as it did in his NES outing, with precise timing he can outmaneuver a lot of the game’s enemies and hazards. In the end, this works well, thanks to the accurate controls. Attacking is as precise and simple. Face the direction of the enemy you want to send up the river and press B.
The sound in this game is the driving force in bringing it to life. The music has been said by many to give you a feeling of being helpless and alone (aside from the first minute at the title screen). In short, It may not be so memorable, but you will feel isolated. The sound effects are as utilized as well as the music, and almost every action has its distinct goofy sound which helps contrast against the game’s dark soundtrack. More often than not you will hear your lightning zap or an enemy exploding, and a very satisfying thing after a rough boss battle is to hear your attacker explode like a pack of firecrackers.
Despite what I have said, in my opinion the game is very good. After your first run though, you will either set the plastic terror back on the shelf or miss the epic adventure that has come and passed and start anew. It’s one of the very few games that does justice to the Addams Family license. However, due to the difficulty and the nature that the game plays off your feeling of loneliness, it may not be for everyone, especially those who casually play games and those prone to developing a phobia (like myself). AFV is truly a title you should consider importing as the Genny could always use another action RPG to hang out with the likes of Light Crusader and Beyond Oasis. As for the Addams in video games, this is the family’s swan song, as their final attempt to pull in gamers self-destructed on the Game Boy. A valiant attempt by Ocean proves again that licensed games are worthy of a “hardcore” audience.
SCORE: 6 out of 10