Eight-bit junkyard

Rediscovering video games of the past
“Fester’s Quest” (Sunsoft, 1989)

Have you ever had a tortured relationship with a video game? If you’ve ever played a video game, then your answer is “yes.” If you’ve ever played “Fester’s Quest,” Sunsoft’s (extremely) loose adaptation of “The Addams Family,” then your answer is a teeth-grinding, fist-clenching, rage-spiraling “yes.”

Time is a tricky thing (not to be confused with a tricky Thing, the disembodied hand who roams the spooky halls of the Addams manse). For years, I was convinced that “Fester’s Quest” was an attempt to cash in on the 1991 big-screen adaptation of “The Addams Family.” However, the eight-bit adventures of the hairless, pallid, altogether ooky Uncle Fester began development in 1988. Maybe Sunsoft executives felt there was a market among children of the late ’80s for a game based on a 25-year-old show? Maybe they were way ahead of the “Addams” revival of the early ’90s? Maybe there was no reason at all. Does this lack of logic hurt your brain? Do you like that hurt? Do you want even less logic? Do you want more pain? Then, my masochistic friend, “Fester’s Quest” is your game.

Experience the seven stages of playing “Fester’s Quest”:

1. Hey, this is by the makers of “Blaster Master.” That game had a weird frog. This game has weird frogs. Cool.

2. The score is pretty catchy. Composer Naoki Kodaka worked on the “Spy Hunter” and “Batman” games, so that’s no surprise. Plus, it features the show’s iconic theme. But I won’t have to hear it too much because it only plays when I die.

3. I sure die a lot. I can only get hit twice before I die. I get hit a lot. Mostly by frogs. And floating meatballs that exhaled mosquitos.

4. All I do is walk around and shoot things. But the calibration of my gun-whip shoots around all the enemies or directly into walls. I can buy hot dogs for health, but only if a dead frog leaves me money. I died again. All I do is die. I wish I would stop dying.

5. I can’t get to the boss of each section (to call them stages unfairly suggests a sense of linear progression) until I navigate through a maze of empty walls and a faulty strobe light. There’s no way out of the maze. I can’t die. Nothing in the maze can kill me. I wish for death.

6. I rip out the game and vow never to play it again. This is the worst game I’ve ever played. It makes “Battletoads” seem like “Pac-Man.” It’s difficultly stupid.

7. Time has passed. Was it really that bad? Could it have been? The graphics aren’t horrible. I guess. Wasn’t the music OK? Let’s try it again. Oh. There’s frogs. My power-ups are light bulbs and a noose. Am I in a maze? Oh, God. Let me die.

Hidden Gem or Total Junk:

Total Junk