The Rube’s Review Festers Quest (NES 1989)
Other than running an arcade, The Rube also deals in buying, cleaning, and selling Nintendo Entertainment systems. To be honest it’s my favorite part of my business because I get a chance to go out and hunt for games and consoles that have been left imprisoned in hundreds of parents’ basements and attics for almost 30 years. Just looking at a grey box with its decorative black stripe makes any fan flashback to when they were a kid, thinking about all the hours spent drawing maps while dodging Metriods, playing Zelda in shifts at your buddy’s sleepover, or faking a fever so you could stay home to beat Gutsman.
We buy and sell a lot of NES games at the Rusty Quarters Retro Arcade & Museum and even though there’s a lot of fan favorites, you’ll never guess the most popular game in our sale inventory. Nope, it’s not Zelda or Metriod. It’s not even Mike Tyson’s Punchout, Techmo Bowl, or Super Mario 3. Believe it or not, our No. 1 game that flies off our shelves is Fester’s Quest… yeah really, Fester’s Quest!
Before I start my review, I have to address the oddity of this game. Out of all the film and television licenses out there, why would Sunsoft produce a game that was loosely based on the weird uncle from the Addams Family? Looking back at 1988 (the year that the game was developed), Sunsoft had dozens of movie licenses that they could have made into a hit game. But, since the licenses for Beetlejuice, Die Hard, Moonwalker, Who Framed Rodger Rabbit, and Willow were already taken I guess they had to reach the bottom of the barrel and scrape up a game loosely based on a 60’s TV show no longer in syndication… or on anyone’s minds.
So, apparently against the will of God or basic common sense, a year later Fester’s Quest hit stores everywhere. The opening credits alone are something to look at. You have a shot of the Addams’ house which before the camera pans left to Uncle Fester “moonbathing” in a lawn chair with a scotch in his hand and party hat on his head. Suddenly, a flying saucer hovers overhead and shoots a laser beam down on the city. I love the part after this, when Fester looks into the camera with the “WHAT THE F*CK DID I JUST SEE?” Face. The instruction manual explains that the UFO beamed up all the city folk and it’s up to Fester to rescue everyone from the awful aliens. Ok, not the most original idea but at least it’s a goal.
You start your quest on the city streets with a weird gun, which they should have just referred as his trusty musket.. you know, from the TV show… yeah, the show that didn’t get a revival until the hit movie came out in 1990. Anyways, with his “gun,” Fester has to fight baddies while going house to house and collecting power-ups. He also crawls through sewers and gets lost in buildings while looking for aliens to beat. To be honest, it took me a couple of tries to figure out what was going on in this game.
First, you need to go around and shoot raspberry snot globs and mutant frog monsters for items. You’ll need bulbs to light up the sewers, keys to open locked doors, money to buy hot dogs (for health) and – most importantly – the blue “GUN” icons. Your gun powers up every time you grab a blue GUN icon which can be upgraded 8 times to form a “supergun.” (NOTE: There’s also WHIP icons but I can’t figure out how those are used).
Once you’ve done that, go exploring from house to house, meet other Addams characters, gain more power-ups and head down to the sewers where you’ll eventually find the Alien boss. Now, all of this should sound very easy to do for a NES game, but with the game is so full of problems it will just make you so angry you’ll want to rip this unholy abomination out of your NES and beat the living shit out of it with a baseball bat. Here’s just a few of the many issues:
You only start with 2 health bars. Once you get hit twice, the game is over and the only two ways you can replenish your health meter is for you to A) figure out that you have to use your cash at hotdog stands for a refill or B) when you find the house were Thing gives you health potions. However, these two options suck ass because there’s always a crapload of baddies that re-spawn in these areas, guaranteeing your imminent death and forcing you to start over. That’s why it’s important to power-up your gun which leads me to another reason to say… BATTER UP!
Your gun is a piece of crap against the constant barrage of baddies that are continually spawning off screen. Like I mentioned before it took me awhile to figure out that you NEED to fully upgrade your gun before venturing out into the city, not only to gain more power-ups but your first upgrades… which make your gun shoot zig-zag projectiles that miss your enemies (WTF?). This starts the boring task of moving left and right, shooting baddies so you get enough blue GUN icons in order to make it to a more enjoyable part of the game. DAMMIT! I hate games that do this… but I haven’t even got to the worst part.
This game sucks away your soul. As you go through the repetitive motions of moving left and right and left and right to kill jellies and f*cked up frog fucks, you’ll end up gaining red GUN icons. When picked up, your gun actually decreases a level… REALLY?! Not only do I have to waste my time powering up my gun, but now I have to dodge red GUN icons, which are likely to show up in narrow, undodgeable passageways? Time to take some practice swings into my screaming pillow. Well… onto the final reason that will make you hit this game out of center field.
Without the use of a NES Advantage, NES MAX, or any other controller with a Turbo setting YOU CANNOT BEAT THE GAME! By your meager mortal baby hands, you don’t have the dexterity or energy to shoot fast enough to kill certain baddies before they reach you. Remember, if you get hit twice, you die and have to start over. You want to know the f*ck’d up thing? The game manual (under Game Hints) flat out tells you, not once but twice, that you need a rapid fire joystick to play this game! NOPE, ALL I NEED IS AN OPEN FIELD SO I CAN HIT A HOME RUN WITH THIS SON OF A B*TCH!
So, I’ve played this game for the last couple of days and can only wonder why would anyone want this game. Yeah, I do understand that 99% of all NES games are all about finding patterns and repetition, but when the game offers little health, awkward shooting patterns, and requires an add-on device (controller with a Turbo Button) to play the game properly… well, what’s the fun in that?
The only redeeming value of this game is that you get to continue as many times as you want without losing any of your gun power-ups or accessories, but come on! How many times is the average person going to restart the game just to spend 20 minutes walking monster-infested city streets, sewers, back to more city streets and then through a house of confusing hallways (via first person DOOM vision) just in the hopes of killing a mini boss? So far I’ve only got to the first boss twice and died both times. After that experience, I’m most likely to file this game in my personal NES collection never to be played again.
2/10 Light Bulbs
This article is part of the Countdown to Halloween blogathon, a month-long blogging marathon dedicated to honoring the Halloween season. For more information and a full list of participating sites, please visit www.countdowntohalloween.com.