Released: September 1989
US Cartridge ID: NES-EQ-USA
Supported Peripherals: Controller
ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)
Based on The Addams Family, the wildly popular 60’s television show, Fester’s Quest stars the titular would-be hero on a mission to save his town. As he’s moonbathing on the roof of the Addams’ manse late one night, Fester sees an alien spaceship flying over downtown, beaming up and kidnapping all the local citizens. The family has always considered Ma-Ma a bit eccentric, but thanks to her worries that aliens would one day invade, she cast a spell of protection on the house. With the family safe and Gomez staying to protect the homestead, Fester sets off to rescue the missing townspeople.
Fester’s Quest pits the surprise hero against a wide array of extraterrestrial oddities, including mutant frogs, rotting heads swarming with flies, and mobile puddles of asexually reproducing goo, all of whom support the fantastically unique cast of boss monsters that appear at the end of each area. Each of the six areas (besides the last, taking place on a UFO) are comprised of three major sections: the over world, where Fester must blast his way through the alien rabble to meet up with family members who give him useful items; the sewers, which serve to conveniently make accessible otherwise blocked off locales; and the interiors of important buildings that typically house bosses, and are explored through a first-person 3-d viewpoint.
There are several items that can be picked up throughout that are absolutely essential to surviving. Keys are required to open each door encountered, light bulbs are needed to provide light in the sewer areas, and a slew of offensive and defensive items attempt to balance out Fester’s chances in his fight against the otherworldly invaders. While both his gun and his whip are upgradable, they can also be downgraded through picking up the wrong items, which can prove annoying. The whip is extremely powerful but slow and has a limited attack range. The gun is a bit weaker, but its speed allows it to better keep groups of advancing enemies at bay. The gun’s firing patterns change with each successive upgrade, but to the chagrin of many players, the inability to shoot through walls coupled with the irksome arced flight paths of bullets at certain levels means that in confined spaces it can be nearly impossible to shoot something in front of Fester without shooting a wall, rendering the shot ineffective.
The background graphics are nicely detailed but lack color. The well animated enemies are varied in appearance, and the large boss sprites are packed with detail . Like other Sunsoft games (Batman, Journey to Silius), the sound is remarkable, with high quality synth pumping out extremely catchy melodies (featuring, like most late 80’s pop music, a welcome overabundance of synthesized orchestra hits), and a boss theme that sits among the best battle songs the NES has to offer.
The biggest fault with Fester’s Quest lies with its difficulty level. It only takes two hits to kill Fester, and when he dies, he must restart the game from the game’s starting location (though weapons and items are left intact, and any previously defeated bosses are still dead). Boss fights can take far too long due to the sheer number of hits they can absorb, and the shooting controls persistently make things unnecessarily difficult in tight corridors. The game’s manual recommends a turbo controller, and it is a good suggestion – the difficulty level becomes far more reasonable with one, significantly reducing the likelihood of the dedicated gamer’s thumb being ground to a nub.
Despite the game’s difficulty that has earned the game a less than stellar reputation, things gradually become easier as the game mechanics become familiar and more accessible. Thought not without its problems, The Addams Family: Uncle Fester’s Quest is a tragically underrated title that deserves far more credit than it has historically been given.