Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Game 23: The Addams Family - Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt

I know what you're thinking. And really, I'm very embarrassed for you.

Anyway, here's another Addams Family game.

I'm not going to tell you that this game is terrible (even though it is), because that sort of negativity never does anyone good, plus we've already covered this ground, haven't we?

Instead, I'm going to tell you why this game is a masterful work of horror.

Of course, I'll be ignoring many things to get to this point, such as intentionality, quality, and most of the game itself. But it will all be worth it, trust me.

But first, some research. Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt is the sequel to the previous Addam's Family game developed by Ocean. It was released simultaneously for the NES, SNES, and Game Boy, back when Nintendo basically owned everything. The NES and SNES versions of this game were also developed by Ocean and were meant to be a more linear, kid-friendly version of the first Addam's Family game.

The Game Boy version was not made by Ocean, but was instead ported by Enigma Variations. As far as I can tell, Enigma Variations' history involves porting a bunch of stuff and then going bankrupt.

Enigma Variations clearly saw the colorful, sensible versions of the game and said "Hey, how about instead of a straight port we turn the game into a non-Euclidian descent into madness?"
"Sounds great! Ship it!"
Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt opens with Pugsley standing in a mansion, twitching. He has problems, and his eyes are completely black. He is not the Pugsley we've come to know and love; he is an abomination.

This game has no music.

That's not true - the game has music on the title screen, and nowhere else.

Here is another thing: the B button has a very specific function. It slides Pugsley one pixel to the right. To what end, I'm not sure.

Pugsley's only other ability is to jump. It is, to be fair, quite a jump. He can also stomp on enemies, which is nice because he's otherwise helpless. He will need to use this jump and his ability to slide one pixel to the right to rescue his family. I never actually met any creatures that did not want to kill me while I played this game.

When I pause the game it tells me what room I am in. Pugsley starts in room 10. Opening the first door brings us to room 11. Room 11 is not a room, it is outside the mansion itself, just at the entrance.

Moving left from the mansion entrance, Pugsley encounters a ghost, the grim reaper, and a noose.
I'd write something weird here but...this pretty much speaks for itself
Climbing the noose (!) brings me to my first powerup: one of those little helicopter beanies that were apparently quite popular in the 50's. It lets Pugsley fly, and it is quite exhilarating! I make it to the roof of the mansion and make my way down a chimney. Which apparently leads to a brick cave.

A cave full of weird, weird monsters.

Don't you remember the lovable Addam's Family character, Mr. Creepy Legs?? 
This chimney cave goes on for a very long time - I also manage to acquire something like 5 1-ups, which is quite nice. I suppose it might be considered a secret bonus area if it weren't for the strange horrible things trying to murder Pugsley.

All of the doors and entrances I encounter in this game are one-way, and the chimney is no exception. I finally get to the exit, which brings me up a chimney on the other side of the house. At this point, I am fairly certain I have a handle on the game, but I truly do not. I go back down the chimney just to see what happens. 

I end up in a completely different place.

This is where the secret horror of the game suddenly reveals itself - nothing actually connects in a logical way. Enter a door, move through a long passageway, and exit exactly where you entered. Go back through the door you just exited, end up somewhere totally different.

In fact, there is a pit at the right side of the mansion that had no less than 3 exits connected to it. Every time I blink I end up back at this pit, completely lost and confused.

Yeah, this pit.
Without any sense of linear progression, I find myself panicking slightly. I get lost and am inexcplicably shrunk to the size of a pea pod, battling flies and...tiny bombs?

Not pictured: Flies and tiny bombs
Of course, this panicking results in Pugsley dying at the hands of his enemies. And Pugsley does not go gentle into that good night. No, he stares directly at me with a scream of terror emitting from a black hole where his mouth should be.

The creepypasta just writes itself now
There is still no music, just silence punctuated by weird blop noises as Pugsley continues stomping on gaunt rabbits and bloated walking heads.

After wandering around aimlessly, going through doors and failing at creating a map in my head, I end up dying enough times to get a game over. My final enemy is ropes suspended over spikes, a shockingly normal staple of platform games. With that, I call it quits. I don't feel the need to press this particular game any further.

Still, Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt has created a malformed map in my head that involves weird, circuitous loops and rooms that occupy the same space as each other. It's a really, really strange game despite having all the trappings of a boring, boring platform game. I can imagine that if I put a decent amount of time into this game, understanding its intricacies would make me weirder.

Unfortunately, it's also a really crappy game so, y'know. Let's just get on with our lives.

Pugsley agrees.

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