Fester's Quest
by Mild Guy



Take a look at that box art scan above this review. Take a good, goddamn-long look at it chilens. What do you see?

I'll tell you. That's Uncle Fester's face as he rapes you. By inches.

Uncle Fester's Quest is the one game I own that I cannot remember my motivation for purchasing. It scares the crap out of me when I think of it. I mean, for SNK's abysmal Athena, there was the cool box art, for Mappy Land there was the endearing promise of happy romps through cartoon fun-lands with friendly talking animals that wore shirts, and I received Karnov only because my aunt glimpsed that supple Russian strongman hurling fire from some unknowable recess within his glistening body, and thought, For an eight year old, this game looks to be made of Win and Legend. But why The Adams Family? The movie was still 2 years away when this sucker hit, and few kids cared about the show then. What unholy demon possessed me and my parents to get this? Perhaps after Blaster Master, I felt Sunsoft could do no wrong.

Well, they done did wrong with this one. When you're a kid, unless your parents were loaded, you played the hell out of any game given to you because it had to last you a while. I remember putting this one back pretty early as a shorty. But surely, I thought heading into this review, I had been wrong about this one. So I played it again. Twice. And that was enough.

I'll start with the general setup. The gameplay, such as it is, is top-down action/adventure, with some pseudo-3D first person mazes you transverse to reach the bosses in their office building strongholds. The game spans over three surprisingly small bitmaps: the suburbs, the sewers, and the enemy UFO. It's a recycled top-down engine from Blaster Master's indoor sections, except with all the fun and cleverness sliced out like a girl scout's still-beating heart.

The game is really small, so how did Sunsoft compensate? For starters, Fester walks as if Pugsley cracked open his kneecaps with a baseball bat. Often, if you stand just a pixel too close to a enemy spawn point, you'll find yourself trapped as an endless stream of enemies descend upon Fester. Because of this, fighting up a corridor can take a lot longer than you'd like. Since you amble with the speed of a frozen river of shit, your trusty weapons will get you out, right?

Wrong. Your main weapons are a gun and a whip, and they require blue-lettered gun and whip powerups to progress to stronger forms. Seven for the gun, three for the whip to be fully powered. And then there are the red versions of these, which weaken these weapons a notch. This is bad, because the gun is a joke even on level 8, barely scratching most enemies. Hell, stronger enemies will reach you before you can shoot them down, and then it's too late because they'll sit right on top of Fester and keep right on dealing the pain. Fester cannot maneuver out of the way, and if a bullet hits a wall, the whole spread shot stops right there. This makes it useless in tight quarters, and much of the game is in tight quarters. The whip only shoots from your right side, leaving Fester's left side good only for taking hits. So that means with every new game you have to spend long minutes collecting enough blue powerups by marching up and down the first street and killing boring enemies until finally you're ready to fight. Oh, you will pick up those red powerdowns. It's inevitable. You'll be showering an enemy with hundreds of bullets as it bears down on you, kill it only right before it touches you, and then pick up the powerdown automatically because you're standing so close. Or the whip will pick up the item when you're in the middle of a battle and there's no help for it. Not a good thing when a game punishes you for doing something that it expects of you, something you're supposed to enjoy killing the damn aliens.

Oh yeah. That's the story. Gomez is getting anal probed by aliens that have taken over the city. And Fester has to stop the invasion.

Anyways, the game does have some nice items, like the rockets, nooses, and TNT, which you'll get to use in certain situations. The music is pretty swingin' what few songs there are. The sprite work is above solid, as you'd expect of Sunsoft.

The bosses are a joke until you get to the fourth one, and he is nearly impossible to hit while at the same time having more health than his downed mates. The others require no skill to defeat, rather only that you hoard your items and gather enough weapon powerups. With your potions in stock you can refill your health and stand there invincible while you wale away on a boss's weak spot (if you can find it).

The game's difficulty is uneven, and often revolves around avoiding spawning points, or stepping back and hoping the processor dumps the enemy out of memory off screen.

Getting through the game plays like a chore. I get the impression Sunsoft was going for a cool, unique adventure with some fresh ideas, but then stopped caring halfway through. Want to know why there's a Blaster Master screen shot in this review? Take the hint, play that instead. I recommend this game only to those with the patience of a mountain god or an appetite for good ideas spoiled by half-assed execution.





Overall:






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