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Addams Family Values – SNES

Addams Family Values – SNES

Addams Family Values - SNESPlatform:  Super Nintendo

Release Date (NA):  February 1995

Developer:  Ocean Software

Publisher:  Ocean Software

Genre:  Action RPG

Nerd Rating:  6 out of 10

Let’s see, in the past couple of weeks I’ve hit a few Castlevania titles, Ghouls ‘N Ghostsand now I’ve just wrapped up my Addams Family Values bender…where was I with this line-up back in October?

Addams Family Values - SNESIn the 12 hours since I embarked on the journey that is Addams Family Values, I’ve developed a complex love-hate relationship with this overlooked entrant in the Super NES library.  It’s deep but merciless, satisfying yet frustrating, and an impressively sprawling 16-bit work.  The first film adaptation of the macabre familial unit was released across multiple platforms as just The Addams Family, and though the NES version is drastically altered from its counterparts, it remains among my most favorite games to this day.   Addams Family Values as a film was also a favorite of mine as a kid and I still consider it a bit of a guilty pleasure even today, so it would only make sense that I’ve got a good chance at enjoying this game, right?

When it comes to beefing up my gaming collection, the last couple of years have been spent filling in the gaps of franchises and picking up milestone titles across the industry’s history, but lately I’ve been taking a cue from NerdBerry and picking up a little of everything.  I spotted Addams Family Values for $5.00, bought it, and have actually gotten around to playing it much sooner than most of my other purchases.  Although I don’t think this is the kind of game I’ll be playing over and over like the original, it has been an extremely surprising discovery.

Addams Family Values - SNESThe story is loosely based on the film of the same name.  Pubert is missing, and the family believes Debbie Jellinsky to be the culprit.  (The role that Joan Cusack and her boobs played in the movie.)  The player assumes the role of Uncle Fester, traversing the grounds around the mansion in order to find clues about Pubert’s disappearance and gain access to the mansion itself.  The game is full of goofy dialog from the characters that perfectly captures the spirit of the film.  In one instance, Gomez has dropped the key to the mansion in clean, pure water that the Addams’ can’t touch, remedied by Fester flooding the water with raw sewage.  In another, Morticia asks how Fester is doing, to which he responds “miserable” with glee.  The tongue-in-cheek style was fun to read and even made me chuckle a little; most older games use almost inhuman, hyper-serious speech between characters.

Addams Family Values takes place over an enormous in-game area.  Gardens, swamps, forests, wetlands, and deserts flank all sides of the mansion and connect to each other through a series of caves and staircases.  This maze of geographical features is the main obstacle of the game and making maps is essential to making progress.  The player is thrown into this world with very little information, slowly acquiring knowledge as the game moves along.  And it is slow.  In essence, what Fester does is find objects and hand them to members of the family (wandering around the grounds) who then give him more useful items, with the aim of making it ever closer to the mansion itself.

Addams Family Values - SNES

Finding items is the easy part, knowing what to do with them is a different story.  If you can keep up with the dialog well enough you’ll have an idea of where to take some of the items (assuming the family member is still in the same location – finding them can be as much of a hassle as anything) but much of the game is going to be spent backtracking and looking around.  It isn’t quite the type of adventure where most things fall into place along the way, instead, it requires revisiting the same areas over and over again, talking to family members after receiving any new item, and basically stabbing in the dark for answers to the game’s puzzles.  At times the level of complexity is impressive, but at others it seems random, or at the very least designed to frustrate and annoy.  Clues for what to do for half the tasks are nonexistent, and even an “optimal” route through the game requires tedious travels from the western stretches of the map to sections in the far east.

Addams Family Values - SNES

Good luck pressing these in the right order!

Once in the mansion, the puzzle-like elements become a little more enjoyable.  Fester has to find a number of switches that are often well hidden in order to make it through the labyrinthine structure, but thankfully the area is limited and exploring each path and possibility isn’t nearly as tiring as dealing with the vast expanses of the outdoor world.  One periodically needs to investigate dungeons as well.  They’re typically encountered almost by accident and not necessarily in the correct order.  Yet again, it’s almost impossible to know if one is properly equipped to move through a dungeon, and by the time you find out, you’ll be deep enough in that making the perilous journey back outside embodies the pinnacle of discouragement.  Much of the gameplay follows this general pattern: get to an impassable point, spend forever gathering what you need (and in many cases gathering what you need so that you can gather what else you need), returning to said point (if you can find it) and repeating.  Truly exasperating.

Combat plays a secondary role in Addams Family Values with most enemies going down in 1 to 2 hits of Fester’s lightning bolt.  A few other weapons can be found in limited supply throughout the game, though their usefulness is questionable.  Enemies tend to bounce and dart around onscreen in spastic fashion, and the controls aren’t wildly conducive to dealing with these hyperactive critters.  Timing and patience is all that’s needed to overcome the standard goons, but you may find yourself in short supply of both after a few trips across the mansion grounds.  Bosses are a little more troublesome but not by much.  For the most part they attack in simple patterns.  Near the end of the game there are some particularly annoying enemies that are nearly impossible not to take damage from, but most seasoned retro gamers won’t find the “action” part of this action RPG particularly difficult.

Addams Family Values - SNESThe control flat out suck.  They’re clunky and sluggish.  Fester is forced to move in a sort of grid, right, left, up, and down, and attacks in the same direction he’s facing.  This means no diagonal attacking, or moving, and he’s forced to turn before attacking, making it extremely difficult to deal with the bouncing baddies without meticulously timing.  Clearing a room of even tiny, insignificant enemies can become exhaustive.  The environment is also peppered with decorations that may or may not be obstructions, leading to real headaches during Fester’s extensive wanderings.  One minute he’s walking over small pebbles, the next his way is blocked by a simple plant.  Though the grounds are 2D, they do contain depth, but because of the 2D environmental features, it can be hard to spot open pathways that exist behind objects like the fucking trees.  I often wondered where I was supposed to go at early points in the game only to find that a perfectly good passage to the next screen existed behind the foliage of a tree.  You get used to it after a while, but I would think there to be a more elegant solution to the problem of seeing where to go.  

Addams Family Values - SNES

These head shots are probably the best looking visuals in the game, but they do a fine job reminding me of the movie!

The graphics leave a little to be desired, but they get the job done.  The various environments are very colorful but lack a degree of detail and definition.  Though each area is well done, one screen of the swamp (or forest, desert, etc.) tends to look the same as the next, adding to the confusion and frustration of moving around.  An area known as the Wetlands is particularly atrocious.  Enemies are simplistic in design and even bosses are forgettable.  Family members are rendered in basic fashion as well, though I can’t help but admire the head shots (appearing during dialog) which look very similar to their big screen counterparts.

Addams Family Values - SNES

The music is filled with inoffensive synth/organ loops, mostly going unnoticed and presented at a lower than average volume.  Sound effects themselves are generic and mediocre.  Anyone accustomed to all but the very best SNES games shouldn’t have a problem, as nearly anything from the 16-bit era and before lends itself well to muting and putting on some tunes.

You’ll be crossing your fingers for a save system to be in place but to no avail.  We do, however, have a password system though it’s notorious for spawning Fester in very strange places.  What’s worse is that to even get a password you’ll have to visit Cousin It at the eastern edge of the world.  Oh well, it’s better than nothing I suppose.

Addams Family Values - SNES

The scope of Addams Family Values isn’t something to be taken lightly.  Obviously a ton of thought and planning went into the game’s development, but it feels like perhaps the developers were rushed to complete it.  With such poor direction regarding what to do next in any given situation, anyone looking to play through without some sort of guide will be facing hours upon hours of misery.  Every action conforms to some sort of in-game logic, but it’s far from immediately apparent; I doubt that even 2 or 3 playthroughs could sufficiently arm a player.  Graphics and control may lean towards the unimpressive, but the level of depth in Addams Family Values is appreciable if only from a conceptual standpoint.

Addams Family Values - SNES

My sentiments precisely.

Unless you’re a total glutton for punishment, you may want to stay clear.

Special Note:  Since Addams Family Values leave so much unanswered, a small but devoted fanbase has spent years digging into this marginally notable piece of work.  One of the most valuable tools has been the Game Genie, which players have discovered a couple of interesting clues including the ability to walk through walls and accessing a developer debug menu.  Game Genie codes seem to be a little on the sparse side for this title, so if you happen to have the game and want to explore it in a whole new way, try some of these codes out:

Game Genie Codes
Near Invincibility FFBD-C767
More/Better Invincibility 3C8F-C40D
Start New Game with Full Skull Meter FA62-3F0D
Start New Game with ALL Items*Use this code with any passwords received from then on. EE6C-320D
Infinite Cookies 8E2A-1D6D
Debug Menu*Access by pressing “Start” during gameplay. 406D-3DAD
Walk Through Walls 6DB3-34AF
Action Replay Codes
Walk Through Walls 8097EB80
Debug Menu

*Access by pressing “Start” during gameplay.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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One Comment

  1. I’d like to think of myself as a purist, but for some older games it seems like codes are an absolute necessity to enjoy them. Might try the game with those 😀


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