Back in the 1950’s, cartoonist Charles Addams created the infamous Addams family, the inspiration for one of the smartest cult TV series ever made. The plot focuses on poor old Gomez, who returns home after a hard night in the Grave Digger’s Arms to find that his family have disappeared. Have they run off to a Swiss finishing school to be trained in the manners of normal people? Or have they simply got fed up with a father whose eyes are googlier than Marty FeIdman’s? Not on your nelly! What’s happened is that the family’s answer to Clive James, Uncle Fester, has lost his memory and fallen under the spell of that no-good dame, Abigail Craven. She’s not the least bit interested in Uncle Fester’s nether regions – she’s a gold-digger at heart and only wants to get her mits on the Addams’ hidden fortune. She’s managed to get befuddled Fester on her side, as well as two other evil basts, Tully and the Judge. Abigail has entered the family’s mansion in Gomez’s absence, and has managed to capture the other family members, imprisoning them in different areas of the mansion. It’s up to you, as Gomez, to rescue your loved ones by finding and freeing your children, Pugsley, Wednesday and that old bat Granny by somehow restoring Fester’s memory. After that, you’re faced with the prospect of rescuing his ‘Querrrida’, who’s been locked up in the under ground vaults, and the task of taking on the dastardly judge in the final conflict.

The game starts at the front door of the Addams mansion. Gomez has been given a note by Thing, containing words of advice. Thing’s advice appear at different stages of the game – giving you extra help – but he’s your only ally. Inside the mansion, you have a choice of doors to enter. It doesn’t really matter which rooms you go into first, except that you’ll only be able to find Morticia once you’ve rescued all the other members (handy for Bernard Manning types who have no desire to be reunited with their missus). Each door eventually takes you to a big baddie – if you beat him, you reap a reward in the form of one of your long- lost relatives or a bonus heart. Hearts are quite handy little beauties – you start the game with two, which means you only need to be hit twice before buying the farm. Defeating the big, bad guys will earn you three extra lives, so you can have up to five lives at any one time. There’s loads of dosh to collect, in the form of twinkling dollar signs – save up 25 and, if need be, one of your hearts will be replenished. Collect $100 and you’ll earn a one-up. Gomez scores points every time he picks something up or kills a nastie by jumping on its head. There’s a rather smart shield which makes Gomez indestructible for a limited length of time, natty trainers which allow him to move faster and jump further, a bouncy springboard, and a fez hat which turns into a fezi-copter when Gomez jumps into it so that he can fly around. Seemingly inaccessible areas can often be reached by finding a switch and flicking it off. Sometimes switches are hidden in a patterned block – hitting these will often make platforms appear. If you’re a bit crap, you can use the Continue option, which sends you back to the hallway, but you’ll retain the same amount of hearts and rescued family members. However, if you’re skill, you’ll be rewarded with a password that, in effect, allows you to save your game. It’s up to you to rescue the kookiest family ever by exploring the kitchen, the torture chamber, music room, conservatory, hallway, underground vault and the super spooky graveyard. The graphics are cute, although nothing extraordinary. Best of all is the way Gomez has been animated – his eyes googling away as he stamps his foot impatiently at your obvious incompetence. It doesn’t seem to matter that the graphics aren’t amazing, because the gameplay’s so addictive that it lifts the game above your Mr Average platform romp. Another big plus is the size of the game – it’s huge, with over 1,000 screens and loads of hidden rooms (often hidden behind fake walls). The difficulty level is pitched just right – easy to get it into but hard enough to get you hooked. The soundtrack is also incredibly catchy – sometimes the desire to partake in the family finger clicking tradition is so strong that you just give in subconsciously. In certain parts it’s surprisingly easy to die, so make sure you gather loads of dosh for a reserve supply of lives. The Addams Family is fab, cutesy, platform fun.

 

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