Yet another NES title based off of a movie, The Addams Family on the NES put you in the fancy shoes of Gomez Addams who has to save his family from Tully Alford, the family attorney who is hell-bent on taking their riches for himself.
Of course, as a pre-teen I didn’t know any of that. I had seen The Addams Family animated series on TV, and at that age always gravitated towards video game characters that I found familiar.*
My parents weren’t particularly fond of the Addams, their odd behavior and spooky themes irked them much like it irked the Normanmeyers**, but after a few weeks of my asking for them to get me and my sister a copy of the game, they caved.
The main draw of the game, aside from the familiar characters, was the non-linear gameplay. Gomez starts out at the big tree outside the house, and must find the front door key to gain access to the house. From there, he can go just about anywhere in the house he wants looking for his family.
Some family members were easily found (read: accessible after some devilish platforming) while others required certain items in order to be saved. For instance, to save Pugsley, Gomez needed to concoct a shrinking potion as his son had gotten stuck in his escape chute. To do this, he needed to collect the big blue egg from the top of the tree, some fog from a fog machine on the roof of the house, and a bone from the crypt on the opposite end of the garden.
Sound simple enough? To access the tree, you needed the wooden key found in Wednesday’s room, which was guarded by killer headless dolls. To access the attic, which leads to the roof, you need to rescue Wednesday from the freezer and take her into the furnace, thawing her out and prompting her to give you the attic key so you can access the fog machine on the roof.
If you rushed off to the roof before rescuing Granny from the furnace, you would find only a broken fog machine. Did I mention that you need to swim to the bottom of the pond, accessible after finding Lurch and giving him a specific manuscript to play on the piano in the ballroom, to find Granny’s wrench so she could fix the fog machine?
Once you had an idea where all of these things were, you could prioritize your run and avoid a lot of backtracking - like making sure you get the bone while you were retrieving the front door key from the crypt, making sure you get the snorkel (which you needed to swim in the lake without taking damage) on your way to retrieve the wooden key, and so on.
I guess in a way, The Addams Family had some Metroidvania flavor to it. I wouldn’t call it a Metroidvania, but the non-linearity evoked that sort of feel.
I don’t remember many games back then playing quite like The Addams Family did, giving you an entire house to explore with items to find and puzzles to solve.
Did you ever play The Addams Family? What did your parents think of them? Who was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
*This kind of contrasts with The Goonies, I had no idea who they were!
**The Addams’ normie neighbors in the animated series