Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – NES
Release Date (NA): October 1992
Nerd Rating: 3.5 out of 10
After playing through the first Home Alone game for the NES, I wasn’t too enthused about getting underway with Home Alone 2. But after just a quick glance at the available Game Genie codes, I could tell this was going to be a very different game.
Meet Kevin McCallister. A highly decorated, special forces, black ops killing machine. Whoa whoa whoa wait a minute…that’s not how the movie goes. Aside from taking place in a hotel and partially on the streets, Home Alone 2 pretty much ignores the movie in favor of a bizarrely action-oriented take on the story.
First, Kevin is dropped into “Hotel Hell,” a secret military operations base full of lethal war criminals. Armed with a dart gun and some kind of fist shooter (yes, fist shooter), Kevin must traverse corridor after corridor of cleverly disguised operatives. Donning all sorts of disguises from old ladies, to fat black guys, to brooms and suitcases, these agents of death lurk behind every corner. Only after a thorough sweep of each and every sector is Pvt. McCallister granted access to the next.
Finally he finds his way into a little-known area known only by the legends that precede it – the Killer Kitchen. Here, Kevin must outsmart wicked machinery content to cook him alive, and scalding blasts of steam ready to peel flesh from bone. Just before the exit, he encounters a top-level insurgent known as “the Chef,” who has an uncanny ability to bounce up and down like a rubber ball despite his 400+ lb bulk. A highly trained combatant, his armor is resistant to both darts and fists, and only Kevin’s years of martial arts training – culminating in “the slide” – can defeat this bulging behemoth.
From here, Kevin enters the streets of an unknown land, full of skilled soldiers cleverly hiding amid the greenery. Without Pvt. McCallister’s staggering IQ of 160, he would be completely oblivious that progress must be made in an upward direction, by scaling a street light and performing death-defying leaps to reach the top of the building. Brave Kevin takes a leap of faith off said building, and discovers where his next path will lead – underground!
In this strange land, it seems military intelligence has trained birds to fly underground and assault our hero with worms…or garbage…or something. An almost purposelessly short stint in the sewers leads Kevin to an open window…
Now in a dilapidated house of treachery, Pvt. McCallister catches his first glimpse of the rouge organization’s senior officials. Using clever ruses like hanging weights, toolboxes, rolling logs, and puddles of paint, Kevin must outsmart his physically superior rivals all while gathering access keys to make his way further and further up the building. Not to be undone, these masterminds of evil are not only formidable foes, but they’ve ensured that Kevin must traverse long and difficult gaps in the flooring, requiring our hero to call on years of training just to make it from one broken floorboard to the next. Many Bothans died to bring us this information.
Yet again having fought bravely to the top of a structure, our Warrior of the Ages once again drops down to street level, this time in hot pursuit by those who wish him harm. After facing what can only be described as an obstacle course full of every yet seen combatant, Kevin comes to the bottom of a tree where he must finally face off against the enemies of peace and justice, Major Marvin and General Gerharry. Once at the top of this great tree, Kevin is in radio range to call in an airstrike, code name “Pigeon Lady,” in order to assist him with the containment of these individuals.
Afterwards, Pvt. McCallister is reunited with his family and the criminals are brought to trial for their crimes against humanity. McCallister’s deeds must ever remain secret, but by a select few, he will always be remembered as one of our greatest heroes.
….If only that’s how the story had really gone.
Instead, we get a ridiculous setting where Kevin is literally in combat with everything from old ladies to inanimate objects. He has quite the arsenal – a dart gun (for stunning), necklaces (to be broken up and make foes slide around), and both a small and big fist gun to permanently dispatch enemies. Ammo is severely limited however, and the only consistent move is Kevin’s weird knee slide.
After what seems like hours roaming the hotel – which involves running to one end of the hallway and then back to make the second elevator work – he faces a “boss” that can only be hurt by his slide move. The “action” parts of this game are severely confusing since some attacks work against some enemies but not others, with seemingly no rhyme or reason.
After a quick street scene, it seems like Kevin is stuck, but no, it’s up to you to randomly attempt to climb one of the nondescript light poles and interpret those lighter colored bricks as platforms. Once you’re at the top, it’s again unclear what to do; the only thing to do is jump right off of it…and back down onto a new section of street. This leads to a very quick and utterly pointless romp through the sewer where birds – yes, birds – are the main threat. Following all of this total weirdness, you get to go to the house that was featured in the movie.
In here, Marv and Harry first appear, but your weapons are no good. Instead, you’ve got to figure out convoluted ways in which to use the handful of traps laying around in order to keep the two off your heels while you desperately seek out keys leading to the upper floors. This actually wouldn’t be so bad except that, like the movie, huge sections of the floor are missing. Kevin has to leap from board to board with a frustrating level of accuracy to avoid falling.
A few keys later, you’re on top of another building, and the only thing to do is jump off of it…again. From here it’s a sort of race down the street where the game engine basically throws whatever it can at you. As long as you have a few fists to get rid of the guys that’ll drag you back to the beginning, progress can be made with only a few bumps and scrapes. Then it’s time to climb the tree…the tree that houses multiple Harrys and Marvs as well. Chances are you won’t have enough fists to get the job done, but luckily the Pigeon Lady is whizzing around at the top of the screen ready to…kill them with birdseed or something. Eventually, after taking out about 13 Marvs and 10 Harrys (only a gross estimation), the game ends.
Home Alone 2 is playable, but it’s also extremely random and absurd (evil vacuum cleaners, bouncing evil chefs). The controls function well, but it’s the details that the developers really skipped over. The flawed weapons system is the most flagrant example, but other oddities such as having to run to one end of the hall and back again to access the elevator, the climbing of the lamp post, and leaping from rooftops into the unknown are highly questionable design choices also. Oh, and Kevin can also collect money, which seems to serve absolutely no purpose at all.
I don’t really know how to describe Home Alone 2 except to say that it’s one weird game. There is some coherence to the overall structure and gameplay – mechanically we have a functional game – but much of it feels disjointed and arbitrary due to setting and design choices. Home Alone 2 is at least playable, I’ll give it that, but it ain’t much more. And except for those stupid boards it’s pretty easy to. I wouldn’t exactly recommend it, though if you’re looking for an amusingly terrible 8-bit game, this could be right up your alley! It’s definitely a step up from the previous game; then again, so is a satisfying sneeze.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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