The Addams Family's immense popularity has always been short lived. The iconic TV series only lasted two years and the 70s animated show has mostly been forgotten. The early 90s saw two great films be released and was again hugely popular. In light of the revelation that a new stop-motion film is being produced, let's take a look at the many games based on the mysterious and spooky family.
The first game arrived on the NES in 1989. It features a top-down perspective with a similar, if slower, game-play to Pocky & Rocky. You play as Unclue Fester, the man-child Igor of the family as you attempt to save the world from an alien invasion. It's not Shakespeare but it gives an excuse to blast creatures on the map.
The difficulty is definitely on the Nintendo hard side. The level maps are very maze-like and sprawling so it's easy to get lost. Exploration is hampered by the fact that enemies respawn when you backtrack. You weapon doesn't much help things either. You begin with a rather weak attack that requires a lot of hits to kill even the smallest of bad guys. It can be upgraded, but you are loath to do so as your once straight shooting gun turns into a wavy pulsating attack. It's really difficult to aim using such a weapon and you'll die unnecessarily often. There's the basis of a good game here, but the execution seems sloppy and unfair.
This was also one of 50 NES games to be released on the arcade using Nintendo's PlayChoice 10 system. This allowed for a selection of 10 NES games to be played on a single arcade machine. They are exactly the same as their home console counterparts, but most featured the big names on the system.
When the film came out in 1991, there was a massive marketing blitz surrounding it. Amongst the mugs and the best-selling pinball machine were several games released on different systems. At the time, the different systems had vastly different capabilities so it was not uncommon to see different versions with the same name.
The first to be released was on the Turbo Grafx. It's unique in that Gomez is not the main character but the movies villain, Tully. It's a scrolling platformer with a high production value but the game itself isn't particularly memorable. Your main weapon is an umbrella that shoots bullets but unless your target is large and lumbering, it's nigh on impossible to hit them. The tiny bats will be the cause of most of your game-over screens.
The game that most people remember is the one developed by Ocean. This was ported to most 16 bit systems and garnered a lot of positive reviews. It's not held up particularly well, but it's not without merit. You play as Gomez this time tasked with rescuing your family members from the ghouls that have invested your grounds. The main attack is head-stomping but you can often get a ball power-up that will assist, but you lose it immediately after you get hit.
It's a very unforgiving platform game. There may be two hit points represented by hearts, but it's incredibly easy to lose them in a matter of seconds. Enemies are placed with abandon and take a lot of patience and quick reflexes to get by them. It's easier with the ball, which does give you an extra hit, but you'll lose it so quickly and they placed so sparsely that they might as well not be in the game.
The 8 bit versions (NES, Master System and Game Gear) used a completely different set up to its big brother while keeping within the same theme. There are fewer levels and each are shorter but the designers have seems to compensate for that by making them far more difficult and unfair. It's not uncommon to enter a door only to fall to your death onto a load of spikes. You don't have hit points this time but a health bar which does allow for more protection, but it's little compensation when the game bombards you with unavoidable enemies and unforeseeable traps.
The GameBoy version was again completely different. It too takes its inspiration from the 16 bit variant but seems to be a lot easier. For starters, you begin with a throwing knife which will be with you for the entire adventure. The amount of knives can run out which is represented by a bar at the bottom of the screen but you can pick up flasks that will replenish them. Thankfully they are found frequently and re-spawn which makes the overall game seem easier.
You gain different weapons or items from each family member that you save until you face the brain-washed Fester himself followed by Tully. It may be the fact that I had this version as a child, but this is my favourite out of those based on the original movie.
After the success of the first movie, a sequel was made in 1993. The only game to be released was to be the Super Nintendo version and it's Mega Drive port, again made by the prolific UK developer Ocean. You may think this is the spiritual successor to Fester's Quest - it stars Fester himself and uses a top down view - but it perhaps closer resembles Legend of Zelda.
The way the world you explore gradually unfolds is very reminiscent of that classic series. Defeated bosses increase your health, fetch quests, and simple inventory puzzles are all here. It can a little obtuse at times and it can take a while to figure out how to get out of the garden, but it is the best Addams Family game by far.
With the rise in popularity, a children's animated show was commissioned and with it a gaming tie-in. The GameBoy and NES were essentially re-skinned and downgraded version of the 16 bit original game, but the Super Nintendo version is a completely different game.
It plays a lot like the first game and is just as difficult. The graphics have vastly improved with some great animations, but ultimately there's nothing particularly different here than what has come before.
Just like in the 60s and 70s, it wouldn't be long for the property's popularly to decline. By the mid 90s, audiences were looking for something different but that would stop production companies from trying. After an ill conceived 1998 made for TV movie, a single live action season was shown on Fox Kids. It was OK for what it was and was popular enough in Europe for Microïds to take a stab at making a game in 2002.
The New Addams Family plays vastly different to the other games. It is not an arcade game nor a Role Playing or platform game but a point & click adventure. This is particularly bizarre as the only system it was released on was the GameBoy Color. You play as Pugsley as you attempt to prevent the family mansion from being demolished to make way for a theme park.
The graphics are impressive for a GameBoy Colour game, but one yearns for the game to be released on a more graphically competent system - even the GameBoy Advance was established on the marketplace by this point. Overall it's an entertaining but short adventure and a interesting addition to the Addmas Family Pantheon.
The Addams Family completely captured my imagination as a child. There were some great games based on the license with Values being be the best. For the most part, they all at least tried to do something different which was welcome at the time, but the early games especially haven't transitioned to the 21st century well. Those that stray from the platform genre are well worth a play.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses Retroarch with the Mednafen_PCE, SNES9X, TGBDual, Nestopia and Genesis Plus GX cores to emulate the games on PCs. XBox 360 controllers supported. Tested on Windows 7 and Windows 8.
The Addams Family games are © Ocean
Fester's Quest is © Sun Entertainment
The New Addams Family is © Microïds
The Addams Family Turbo Grafx is © NEC Technologies
The Addams Family (The Movies) are © Paramount
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me