First thing I have to mention is that this game is commonly known as "Fester's Quest." That does sound better, but the character is usually known as "Uncle Fester," and the title screen says "Uncle" on it, albeit in a small font, so I'm calling it Uncle Fester's Quest. Now then...
Back in my youth, when I worshipped the NES, there were certain video game companies whose names meant that I would not play their games. There was a tie for the number one name on that blacklist. A two-way tie that was actually a four-way. The two main names were Konami and Acclaim. Those companies could not make a good game to save their lives, and I defy you to prove otherwise (and I just know someone is going to mention Contra, so let me say right now that that game sucks). Even today, the only thing worthwhile that Konami has ever put its name on was the Dance Dance Revolution series. Likewise, Acclaim only ever released one good game: Fur Fighters. Now, if I am not very much in error, Acclaim doesn't make games anymore because they sucked too much and went broke. The four-way thing comes from the fact (if I was informed correctly) that Nintendo had a thing about third-parties releasing games for their system in those days, so they had a rule that restricted how many NES games a company could release in a year. Thus, Acclaim and Konami had shadow companies, LJN and Ultra respectively, to release extra games through. I didn't know the reasons when I was a lad, but I knew that the connections between those companies existed.
All this has virtually nothing to do with Uncle Fester's Quest. I just wanted to get it off my chest.
Uncle Fester's Quest was made by SunSoft. SunSoft, while not at Acclaim- or Konami-like levels of ineptitude, was another name on my list. They were tricky. Their games gave the illusion of not sucking, and could fool you into trying them over and over, but at the end of the day, you knew you had wasted your time. Let's waste some time, you and I, shall we?
This game predates the Addams Family movie, and thus the various sequels and TV shows that spun from it, and certainly the Internet, and so no kid playing it would have any fucking idea who the Addams Family characters were except from vague memories of a couple episodes of Scooby-Doo that they also didn't understand because the characters predated their birth. The idea is that aliens have invaded the town that the Addams family lives in, and it's up to Uncle Fester to fight them off, I guess because he's the only one with a laser gun. If this game was really true to the Addams Family, the aliens would have knocked on the Addams's door and they would have invited them in for dinner and the aliens would have thought they were so weird that they wouldn't want to take over the Earth anymore because they figured all humans were like the Addamses. But instead, Fester's gonna blow them up real good. Maybe the aliens did something to the family to incur Fester's wrath? Since this is an NES game from 1989, I'm going to operate under the assuption that they kidnapped Morticia. And remember, in the pre-movie canon, Fester was Morticia's brother, not Gomez's. And I know I keep calling him "Fester" when I said he was usually referred to as "Uncle Fester." Leave me alone.
Your top-down shooting exploring adventure game. You wander around the town, finding sewers you can enter to gain access to other parts of town, which lead in turn to other sewers and so on. You kill things and get items, including gun power-ups and power-downs, money for buying life-restoring hot dogs, light bulbs for illuminating sewers, and keys for opening doors. Also whip power-ups and power-downs, but I'll be honest and say that I couldn't tolerate the game long enough to figure out what those were for.
The keys are interesting. Or rather, the buildings are. Some contain family members who give you items, while others contain crude first-person maze areas to explore. It doesn't really amount to much, but it is kind of a "whoa" moment when the game shifts perspective so completely.
Oh yeah, and I found a boss once. I couldn't beat it. I'll explain why later. I assume there are more bosses, too, and maybe you even get stuff from them.
It's an Addams Family game not related to the movies or TV shows? Maybe? Kinda?
The graphics and sound are largely inoffensive.
Okay, absolute first thing I have to mention. Early in the game, there are some floating head aliens that spit out flies when you shoot them. The flies do not damage you. They half your walking speed. And as far as I could tell in my limited experience with the game, there is no way to cure your status ailment without dying, and if there is a way, it is so far-flung and difficult that I never found it. So I hope you like playing video games in slow motion. With a two-point life meter. If you're wondering, this was why I couldn't beat that boss.
When you die, you can continue with your gun power and items in tact, but you start over from the beginning. Boo.
No password, no save. Also boo.
The way your gun power-ups work is interesting, but flawed. You start with a gun that fires straight, but is weak. There are seven levels after that. In addition to each level dealing progressively more damage, every odd-numbered level is a new type of projectile, with a different flight path. Every even-numbered level is a wider/longer/somehow improved version of the projectile gained at the previous level. The problem is that four of these eight levels are next to useless. Levels three and four are a "wave beam" sort of thing with a snaking path that looks impressive, but has a wonderful tendancies to completely miss things. Levels five and six have a looping path that is a bit less irritating than the wave beam, but still suffers from the same crippling drawbacks I am about to mention. These crippling drawbacks, shared by all four of those levels, are these. One, once shot, the beam starts on a path heading out of Fester's side. If you have something directly in front of you that you want to hit, you're pretty well fucked. Two, the game is full of narrow passages, barely wider than Fester. And when a projectile hits a wall, it stops. Good luck shooting things! Level seven is a bit more manageable, being a pair of bullets that fire in an intertwining wave pattern that is pretty good at hitting what needs to be hit, and level eight is just a bit barrage of projectiles three bullets wide. Still stops when it hits a wall, bit it's slightly easier to avoid hitting the walls when the bullets are going straight instead of wildly off to the side.
On a related note, your weapons are pretty weak even at the highest level, and it takes a lot of shots to kill things. Given that all the action in the game is shooting things, the ability to hold down B to shoot rapidly would have been nice.
TIPS & TRICKS
Hang around the beginning area and shoot the immobile alien blobs until your weapon is at level eight. Don't worry, the enemies will respawn when you leave the screen, so you can do this at your leisure. It's boring, but the rest of the game isn't any better, so eh.
Oh yeah, in one of the first first-person mazes you encounter, there's a dead end that increases your life meter if you run into it.
Wow, SunSoft sure couldn't make video games.
Thumbs down for (Uncle) Fester's Quest.
The start. Get used to it.
You'd think that, will all these projectiles, at least one would hit an enemy.
You'd think wrong.
Flies: Man's most trecherous foe.
Aw, who needs to shoot things directly in front of him without
having his projectile hit a wall, anyway? Not Uncle Fester!