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Fester's Quest (NES) artwork

Fester's Quest (NES) review

"It's better than it's reputation, but still one of Sunsoft's weakest titles."

Fester's Quest has something of a poor reputation in recent years. While the game does have significant problems, it isn't the disaster that some people claim it to be.

The game doesn't have much plot, and is only explained in the manual and opening cut scene. At night there's an alien invasion and the aliens kidnap everyone in town but the Addams Family, and Fester grabs his rifle and goes off to rescue the townsfolk. Somewhat interestingly, the cut scene takes place at night but the gameplay itself is during the day. Also, the cut scene shows that the aliens attacked a city with tall buildings but the game takes place in a quiet suburb.

The game has an overhead perspective, very similar to the overhead stages in Sunsoft's Blaster Master. Initially Fester has only a weak rifle with short range and unlimited ammunition. The various enemies drop powerups on death. Some of them drop money, light bulbs, and keys. Money is used to buy hot dogs from hot dog carts, which are still operating despite an alien attack. Light bulbs light up the underground areas of the game. Keys unlock the doors to houses. Some of these houses have members of the Addams Family in them, who apparently think nothing of trespassing. They give the player extra items to use, or the whip secondary weapon.

Enemies can drop powerups that improve the gun or whip. Both deal increased damage with higher levels. With the gun, additional powerups change the trajectory of the bullets fired. At some levels bullets fire with a spiraling or arcing pattern. This can make killing enemies in cramped areas difficult since bullets will likely hit a wall instead. At some places it could be hard to hit an enemy standing directly in front of Fester without having to maneuver a little bit.

Even with a fully powered gun, a number of enemies take a significant number of shots to kill. A fully powered whip is more effective, but the whip isn't available until a bit later. This makes the first half or so of the game fairly tedious, and playing with a turbo controller makes the game much simpler. The game's manual even recommends using a turbo controller.

The game is almost entirely linear, though there are one or two dead ends here or there. Most of the houses where members of the Addams Family reside are in the player's direct path, but a couple are in out of the way places. It is very important to find them. Going through the game without healing potions, or invisibility potions, or missiles makes boss fights much tougher than it needs to be.

For whatever reason, this suburb is very labyrinthine. Paths between buildings either require walking through mazes of shrubbery, or wandering underground through the sewers. These mazes aren't difficult, and don't typically have a lot of dead ends or alternate paths. When entering some buildings, the game shifts to a first person perspective to go through a maze. In the first person perspective areas, there are no enemies, no combat, no time limit, and no items to collect with one exception. About the worst that can happen is getting lost and accidentally walking out of the entrance, wasting the key used to enter the building. It feels like filler and doesn't add much of anything to the game, but it is necessary to go through them to get to boss fights.

The game features six boss fights, which must be completed in order. The bosses look like they could've fit in Blaster Master easily. They all have a pattern that is easy to memorize, but they may be difficult because of the number of shots needed to defeat them. Bosses earlier in the game are harder than the bosses later in the game, when the player has more items available. The missile item makes boss fights much simpler. The final boss is arguably the easiest in the game, since it can be defeated by standing in one area where the boss's projectiles can't hit and using missiles repeatedly.

The player has a very short life bar, with only two hits at the start of the game. Defeated enemies never drop health, but health can be restored by buying hot dogs or with healing potions. Health is also restored by defeating bosses. The player can expand the life bar to four hits, but it can be easy to miss where the upgrades are. The player has only one life, but unlimited continues. Continuing the game leaves the player with all collected upgrades and any defeated boss remains defeated, but the player is put at the very starting area of the game and must walk all the way back to wherever he was killed. Given Fester's slow speed it can take some time to get back to the final areas of the game. There is no save or password function.

A lot of the game's sound effects will be familiar to anyone who has played other Sunsoft games, and some of the music is memorable, such as the boss fight music.

Overall, Fester's Quest features some strange design choices and is harsh on anyone unfamiliar with the game or anyone lacking a turbo controller. The game is entirely playable, even though it is a bit tedious. It's far from the worst game on the NES but it's probably one of Sunsoft's worst games.


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Community review by Bouchart (September 18, 2017)

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