Tuesday 20 September 2016

Fester's Quest (NES review)

Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher: Sunsoft
Released: 1989

Fester's Quest is an action game and a spin-off of the Addams Family series.

As Fester your mission is to rescue the townspeople from the invading aliens. Most of the action takes place on the street or in sewers, and involves mowing down aliens with your Gun or Whip. Once defeated, they drop useful items such as weapon upgrades and keys to enter buildings. Additional items such as TNT and Missiles can be collected by entering houses and speaking to members of the Addams Family. The gameplay is repetitive and even the expansive over-ground sections are linear and leave you with no real choices as to what to do, or where to go next. Enemies respawn at an alarming rate and most of your weapons are either weak, or zigzag around them instead of firing in a straight line. The fact that you need a turbo controller to play the game competently is a sham, and worse yet, when attacking your bullets frequently get stuck on the walls! Annoyingly, you can downgrade your weapon by accidentally collecting a red icon (instead of blue) which leads to lots of standing around waiting for icons to disappear. The sewer sections are basically the same as the above and resemble a crappier version of Maze Hunter 3D (1988, Master System) with much worse level design. At times you'll enter a building and navigate a maze structure in a first-person perspective. The action is only displayed one frame at a time which creates a flickering effect that's unpleasant on the eye. There's also little to do in these sections (e.g. no combat) so the order of the day is aimless wandering. At the end of these mazes are bosses that take forever to kill, and feature dull, predictable patterns.
Fester's Quest is a classic example of how not to design a game from a level design, combat and gameplay perspective. It milks a single idea for all it's worth, and the lack of care put into the whole package highlights a lazy, poorly developed title that's surprising for a Sunsoft release.
Random trivia: The PAL version had a number of refinements, including bosses that are much easier to defeat.

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