Release Date: 1989
First Played: Summer 2000
Status: DEFEATED – August 10, 2014
Gather around everyone! Let me tell you a story…a story of procrastination, wishing and the consequences of these wishes…
The year was 1992, in a small town there lived a boy who loved video games. He would go to the local video rental store, Jumbo Video by name, and delight in all the video games to rent! He would rent these games as often as he could, and he was all the happier for it. One day, while walking down the rows of Nintendo games, he spied a curious sight. A game called Fester’s Quest…
“Fester? Uncle Fester? From the Addams Family?” he wondered aloud. He was a fan of The Addams Family film that came out the year before, and an Addams Family game sounded like a grand idea! But beside it, the boy saw another game…a game called “Yo! Noid”.
“The Noid?? From those pizza commercials???” The boy also liked The Noid…this was only a passing phase thankfully. He ran to the cash register with “Yo! Noid” in hand; looking over his shoulder he said, “I’ll get Fester’s Quest next time!” And off he went. Little did he know, that he had just told a lie; for every visit after, he would pick another game, always saying, “I’ll get Fester’s Quest next time!” Then many months later, the day finally came. He would go and get Fester’s Quest and play this sure to be amazing game! But when he went to Jumbo Video…..it was gone. When he asked when it would be back, the clerk said, “Sorry, but we got rid of it to make room for newer games.” He had lost his chance; never would he know the joys of Uncle Fester’s Quest…whatever that quest was! “I wish I could have played it” the boy lamented. Defeated, the boy went home…with nothing but the pang of regret in his heart…
Many years later, this boy now a teenager, was walking through a flea market, when what to his wandering eye should appear but nestled snuggly within a row of used Nintendo games was “Fester’s Quest?!?!?” Maybe, he thought, this is the exact same copy from all those years ago in Jumbo Video! And for only $10! “I’ll take this one!” he said. The pale, balding, plump man running the booth looked at him, as he turned his hunched back, a drop of sweat rolled down the side of his face mingling with the poutine smear that had dried beside his red, almost sore looking lips. “Fester’s Quest? You sure about that?” he said, eyeing the teenager with a mischievous gleam. “Yup!” the teenager beamed, “I’ve been waiting a long time to play this!” The booth owner chortled as he brought his big gulp up to his mouth for a big gulp of green liquid, hiding a smirk in the process. “Ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…” Ignoring this warning, the teenager went straight home and placed the game into his aged Nintendo Entertainment System. Immediately he knew what a mistake he had made. Immediately he knew the shopkeeper had tried to warn him, though half-heartedly. Immediately he knew what a piece of shit this was! “UNIVERSE!!!!!!!” he screamed into the night like a fireman going to a window that has no fire. Ejecting the blasphemy, he tossed it into the darkness of his closet. Hoping against hope that he would forget, but he never would and it would haunt him for the rest of his days…..and that boy’s name was………..…Walter Matthau.
I should really just end it there, but I can’t. It was me all along! Ha HA!!
Anyway, the moral of this story is: be careful what you wish for…but I still need to explain myself…
When First We Met…
The story of Fester’s Quest (as revealed through an animated cut scene at the start of the game) is as strange as the titular hero. One night as Uncle Fester is moon tanning (like sun tanning but at night; because they’re The Addams Family and they’re nutty so they MOON tan!! GET IT!?!?) Uncle Fester sees an alien spaceship descend on the town and start abducting people. Fester takes it upon himself to rid the aliens from the town! How? Why with his upgradable gun of course!
Fester – Better get the Gun!! (Laugh Track.)
I guess he took a nap or something before he started his “Quest”, because you play in the day time. Right away you know something isn’t quite right with this game; the gun you start with is incredibly weak, your first “enemy” is a brain like fungus on the road which takes far too many shots to kill. The first actual enemy takes even more shots! And with only 2 bars of health, you can get yourself killed very easily. Here’s another game mechanic that poses problems. Enemies drop various items when killed; light bulbs for lighting up the sewers that Fester is forced to navigate throughout the game (this is reminiscent of the old gag that if Fester screws in a light bulb in his mouth, it will light up), money for buying hotdogs at hotdog stands which replenish life, keys for unlocking doors to bosses and houses where the rest of the Addams Family will give you weapons such as TNT or potions; and the word “Gun” and “Whip”.
BUT here’s the kicker, first of all you don’t start out with a whip, you get that later on, so right now all these whip words that are lying around are worthless. Second, these words come in 2 colours: Blue means your weapon is upgraded, purple means your weapon is downgraded. So if you manage to upgrade your gun to a weapon that suits your needs, and accidentally pick up a purple gun, then you’re stuck with a weapon that is weaker and will most likely get you killed by the hordes of alien monsters around the town and sewers. This might not seem like all that big of a problem, except that all the gun upgrades, with the exception of the last one (8 in total) are TOTAL CRAP. The bullets you shoot (again, with the exception of what you start out with and the last upgrade) all shoot out in wave patterns or circle patterns, which makes it very hard to hit your target.
As you can see, I’m standing right in front of the brain fungus, but my bullets go AROUND it.
In tight spaces like the sewers, many times you can’t even fire your weapon because the bullet hits the wall beside you instead of going straight like, you know, a bullet should! When you eventually get the whip, it is very useful in the sewers as it goes in a straight line; it’s even your weapon of choice against a boss alien with a shield and sword! Speaking of boss fights, how are they? Well first of all, in order to get to a boss you need to go into a house, which looks like this…
It switches to a very choppy first person view. Do monsters pop out at you? Nope, never, it’s just you in a maze trying to find the boss door. As for the bosses…
THE BOSSES ARE TERRIFYING!!! What the hell is that??? And they move fast! Much faster than Fester’s plodding pace. And if you don’t have a powerful upgrade on your gun, you don’t even stand a chance! But that’s not even the worse thing. The WORST thing is that no matter how far you get in the game, if you die YOU GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME. You keep all your upgrades and any bosses you defeat stay dead, but you need to travel aaaaalllllllll the way back to where you died in order to “continue”. Needless to say, this was enough for me to call it quits. But it always nagged at me, the memory of my defeat festering in my gut.
Meanwhile in the Present…
I knew I had to put this on my list, I didn’t want to, but I had to. When it came time to play it, I found myself making excuses not to play. Hmm, that bathroom needs a cleaning I think, or maybe my dog should have another bath?? Hey honey! Let’s go out somewhere, anywhere, PLEASE!!! On the plus side, my floors have never been cleaner! But, one Sunday, with literally nothing to do, my wife out of the house at a wedding event, and Watson exhausted from playing ball in the park, I set my jaw and vowed to finish Fester’s Quest.
It’s just as terrible as I remembered. And I needed a walkthrough badly (These helped me out a lot: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjrfVmiG6U8 and http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/563413-festers-quest/faqs/11684) just so I could find my way through the boss houses. One strategy I found helped, though it takes forever, was just blasting the brain funguses at the beginning until your gun is fully upgraded. I always thought Fester only had 2 life bars, only being able to take two hits, but there are four! I found one by accident in the first maze house, the walkthrough informed me that it was the only one I could find in the houses in the game. Good thing I read it, or else I would have been tooling around in these maze houses looking for something that wasn’t there! And those houses are hard enough to navigate as it is! The last bar you get is actually in the Addams Family’s house, which is found about half way through the game and is only accessible by a secret passage through some bushes. I found this through the walkthrough, I have no clue how anyone could find this on their own other than through dumb luck. Oh and when you go in the house…this happens…
The Addams Family theme song plays as they all just…look at you…Fester is there, I guess he decided he needed a break…Gomez looks like he’s about to strangle you! Also, it’s an odd pink colour. Oh, you can’t tell from this picture, but that moose head in the back dances…..did that happen on the show…or in the movies?
At this point, I’d like to briefly discuss a discovery I made. Look at the picture above again, look at Gomez (far left for those not in the know). That’s not the late great Raúl Juliá who played Gomez in the 1991 movie, but John Astin who played him on the original 1960’s TV show, the rest of the family is also from the 60’s show. As mentioned above, Fester’s Quest came out in 1989, two years before the movie and 16 years after the last Addams Family TV show aired, which was a cartoon made by Hanna-Barbara in 1973 (If you don’t count a TV movie in 1977). This means that, it wasn’t just a money grab to capitalize on the popular movie, but an original idea. Someone at Sunsoft, the makers of this game, decided to spend time and money on making a game about a franchise that had been off the air for 16 years AND THEN decided to make them fight aliens. This is more a fever dream than an actual idea!
Back to the game, over a span of 6 hours, which included many frustrating deaths and tedious boss battles, I finally make it to the alien spaceship. Just before this, Grandmama gives you a hangman’s noose for you to call Lurch, the butler! This allows you to call Lurch who clears the screen of bad guys.
This is all you see. You have to use your imagination to picture Lurch murdering a room full of galactic monstrosities (This doesn’t work on the boss battles though). Lurch will come and murder whatever you want 15 times, which made navigating the alien ship a breeze. Then finally, the FINAL BOSS!! Who is…
Mother Brain from Metroid??? Or….Father Brain maybe?? Cousin Brain…something fucked up anyway. It shoots a whole bunch of stuff at you, BUT, there are actually a couple of places where you can stand where nothing will hit you (as seen above). All I had to do was use my missiles on it and it was dead real quick! Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention that Thing gives you missiles at one point in the game. Missiles that fly randomly out of Fester’s body, because this game wasn’t ridiculous enough.
Now that’s what I call an ARMS dealer!! Goodnight everybody!!!
The boss blows up real good! You are greeted to a cut scene where the mother ship blows up as well (I guess Fester got out in time) and then this is the ending you struggled close to 7 hours to achieve…
If you have a love for The Addams Family, I’d give this a try, just so you can laugh at it. It is by no means a good game, the controls are terrible, the music isn’t anything special, and it just doesn’t feel right. This game could have been great; but the developers had no understanding of The Addams Family. The Addams’ humor always dips toward the macabre side of things, yet the situations they find themselves in always seem to be light hearted and fun. The aliens give a much darker edge to the franchise; I would think that if aliens really landed, the Addams’ would invite them in for brunch, not try to kill them. The aliens would probably leave, thinking that the Addams’ represent all of earth and are too weird to enslave. Or maybe, this IS the perfect Addams Family game. Doesn’t this seem like something Fester would come up with? The opposite of what you would expect a video game to be? After all, to quote Gomez Addams, “It’s all fun and games when someone loses an eye”!
So what do you think? Are you going to start scouring flea markets for this game, does this make you want to look up classic episodes or the first movie and see the fantastic Raúl Juliá in action…and then get a hankering to watch the Street Fighter movie? Sound off below!
Stay tuned next week for # 20. This one’s nothing but good! It’s the first game of what has become an incredibly popular franchise! I’m stoked! GO NINJA, GO NINJA, GO!!
(I hope that hint doesn’t throw people off…)