Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Addams Family (C64, 1992)

Yet another case where the two major C64 mags disagreed was Addams Family. Commodore Format gave it corker status with 92% and declared it "challenging and addictive and with loads of screens to explore", while Zzap64 gave it croaker status with 57% and said that it's a "a frustrating all-too-easy-to-die disaster". Game on. Who got it right? Personally I find the truth to be somewhere in-between. But let's check the game's history first.

For reasons best known to the Hollywood fraternity, in 1991 they decided to ressurect the 60's TV show as a full-blown blockbuster. And they got it right, seeing as it was a huge success. A computer game was inevitable, and who better to do it than Ocean, masters of movie tie-ins? Ocean then proceeded to create one of the best platformers of all time, in the 16-bits at least. 8-bit owners had to make do with a trimmed-down different version. Whereas the 16-bit version was a humongous 8-way-scrolling platform fest, the 8-bit version was a less humongous flick-screen affair.

The plot is simple, you control Gomez and you must rescue your family members who are scattered around the game's levels. There are enemies around too, ranging from kill-able ones (who you kill by jumping on them) to unkillable ones. These enemies tend to move in cunning ways, so each screen becomes a tortuous test where you have to think your route around it. Doors are locked so you need to find keys to open them. Green doors need green keys, red doors red keys and so on. And it is a huge world. You won't get very far without a map, or without a solution.

Zzap said there aren't enough restart points. They got it all wrong. You set restart points yourself by entering doors, and each time you die you restart from the door you last entered. Zzap said the game is too difficult and you haven't got enough lives. They got it half-right. The game *is* too difficult but you get 6 continues and there are more scattered around. That makes it in total over 36 lives, which I found pretty adequate.

Commodore Format said the game is challenging and addictive but maybe too tough. Pretty much so, I agree. Commodore Format said the game has spiffy sound effects. They couldn't have gotten it more wrong. The sound is the game's Achilles heel. The sound effects are atrocious and headache-inducing. It's more like noise. If the game had an atmospheric soundtrack, this would be a real winner. To prove my point I turned the sound down and played something on my Sidplay on the background. It made the whole experience a lot better.

So like I said, I think that neither Zzap or CF got it right. Addams Family's real value lies somewhere in-between. Zzap gave it 57%, Commodore Format gave it 92%, I'll give it a 7. Fair enough.



Merman said...

I'd have to agree with you on that... mapping the game is difficult, and it lacks the sort of extras seen in NES platformers at the time. Even a mini-game or two (like Hook) would have livened it up

Jim Slip said...

Agree or disagree? -)

I think the 16-bit version, at least, is one of the best platformers of all time. But I had fun with the C64 version as well. I just had the sound turned down. -)