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Member Name: Frankingsteins
Addams Family (Classic Game)
Advantages: A highly enjoyable classic platform game.
Disadvantages: A generic horror game template with nothing whatsoever to do with the film aside from Gomez's face.
The high profile remake of ‘The Addams Family’ in 1991 spawned an inevitable 16-bit video game spin-off that, as was customary for all such titles, bears such a tenuous relationship to the film that it can easily be played without having knowledge of the storyline. This also means that the biggest fan of the movie can comfortably avoid this game for eternity, without feeling like he or she has missed out on a great piece of tie-in merchandise, as it doesn’t add anything to the experience.
The game is called ‘The Addams Family,’ the box sports the film poster, and the characters have the same names. Beyond this, there’s nothing that gives off a distinctly pungent Addams Family whiff, and this could easily be the template for any generic horror-based platform game. Bizarrely, this games looks more like an adaptation of the 1960s TV show rather than the film, from the appearance of Gomez in a pinstripe suit with a likeness that’s more John Astin than Raúl Juliá (though the graphics aren’t up to much) and Thing’s confinement to red boxes rather than the newfound freedom the helpful hand gained in the feature film. It seems very strange that such a game should ignore the revamp and risk alienating the young players whose experience of the family is likely restricted to the film. There isn’t even the excuse of rushing this out for release before the film was properly developed: this game was released a year later, in 1992.
With the film’s plot ignored (which focused on the return of long-lost Uncle Fester), this game starts from scratch with the arcane nuclear family’s everyday life disrupted. In a plot that’s more than a little reminiscent of Super Mario Bros., as well as pretty much every cartoonish platform game released between 1987 and 1993, the player must travel across varied terrain in a number of areas with the goal of rescuing kidnapped family members at the end. Lacking the luxury of character selection, the player controls Gomez Addams, a pint-sized, large-headed caricature of the man of the household. Gomez is controlled with the Amiga’s joystick, and can be moved left or right, and can jump to reach higher platforms. When in possession of a ‘beanie’ – red fez hat with a propeller, that really has nothing whatsoever to do with anything – Gomez can fly for a limited period, necessary in reaching otherwise impossible areas such as the roof of the Addams’ mansion, and avoiding a nasty death over lava. Each level is intended to represent a different part of the Addams’ mansion, from underneath the garden/graveyard to hallways, the dining room and the ridiculously long boiler room, and each contains individual enemies that can be dispatched with a Mario-style bop on the head. If they have a head, that is.
The graphics are fairly basic 16-bit fare, and there’s nothing that tries to impress aside from the start menu screen, which attempts to reproduce the film’s logo and ends up emphasising the limitations of the format. Gomez and the other human (?) characters are drawn in an exaggerated manner comparable to that of the similar adaptation game ‘’Allo ’Allo: Cartoon Fun,’ but it’s quite noticeable that the enemy designs don’t fit in too well. Partly thanks to bright colours, it’s always obvious whether a sprite is an object that can be collected, such as dollar signs or the flying fez, or a beastie that will take one of Gomez’ three life hearts. As for the sound, the music in the interior levels can get pretty annoying as the faux-organ score repeats endlessly, but there’s a nice contrast in the exteriors where the music is more subdued and some convincing wind effects dominate. The sound effects are the least inspired aspect of all, and not a lot of thought seems to have been put into the ‘bop,’ ‘quock’ and ‘ding’ effects that accompany the limited range of actions. Players who die frequently, as I always did, are treated again and again to an organ synth of the Addams Family theme tune every time they pass on, which I’ve now been conditioned into expecting to hear when I kick the bucket for real.
Despite all the criticism I’ve given, this was actually a very enjoyable platform game, and one which I remember fondly from the Amiga 1200. The enemies and levels are what can be expected from a horror themed game – flying skulls and bats swooping from above, walking trees and werewolves below – but the design of the levels themselves makes gameplay interesting. The majority of the game is very confined, and though hearing Gomez quock as he hits his head on the ceiling can get very repetitive, this invites a degree of strategic thinking, especially in uncovering hidden areas. By contrast, the ‘default’ location outside the mansion is the perfect junction between levels, although not all can be reached from here, and is nicely expansive. Even though they sometimes lack logical sense, the levels are nicely varied, and the game is satisfyingly challenging rather than frustratingly difficult. Experienced players could likely complete the game in a relatively short time, but it takes a while to learn the layout.
Taken on its own merits as a platform game, ‘The Addams Family’ was one of the better realised such releases for the Amiga, and is very similar to its excellent contemporary ‘Yo! Joe’ as well as ‘Superfrog,’ the Amiga’s attempted answer to Sonic and Mario. The attempt to flog this horror-style platformer as an Addams Family game is quite weak, and in fact, I’d rather consider it a stand-alone game about a well manicured vigilante in a purple pinstripe suit exploring a creepy house and emancipating prisoners. Unfortunately, that damn death music has been so drilled into my head that I don’t think such escapism is possible. As a successful attempt to translate the old Addams Family comic strips, sitcom and film to the video game format, this gets one star, and only for not featuring that god-awful rap mix of the theme song that played over the end credits. As one of the most entertaining Amiga platform games, it scores significantly higher. It’s just a shame you couldn’t play as Lurch.
Summary: Published by Ocean in 1992 (the classic company for tenuous film adaptation games).