Mysterious & Spooky – Capturing The Addams Family Home on NES
One of the most interesting things in The Addams Family, across its many iterations, has been the wild house the loving ghouls inhabit. Filled with odd sites, bizarre mechanisms, and dangerous creatures, it’s a lethal, but endlessly interesting, place. With the property being revisited, I’m curious to see what new horrors come creeping out of that home. Hopefully, they draw a little bit from the traps and pitfalls of the short, but murderous, NES game.
Drawing from the 1991 movie, the Addams find themselves evicted from their home. Shady lawyers and all that. Gomez needs to come up with a million dollars to save the place. Also, the family is spread out all over the building. Not the most thorough eviction, I guess. They’re all in varying amounts of trouble, requiring you to do some precise platforming and solve some puzzles to get through. Still, the Addams’ are rich. And Gomez has free reign of his own mansion to find money and his family. How hard can this be?
If you were a regular rich weirdo, maybe this would be easy. Not so much when you’re an Addams. Their mansion is an impressive, but deadly, home in The Addams Family. You’re not going to have an easy time getting everyone to relative safety. Or getting your money back, either. Everyone is spread across this building, and while you’re walking through ballrooms, gardens, courtyards, attics, bathrooms, and bedrooms to get what you need, you’re going to take a real beating along the way. The developers really went hard on filling it with traps and hazards, giving the home a stunning look and lethal mood. Deathtraps and bright colors definitely capture the vibe of the Addams mansion I always imagined.
Having all of this dangerous stuff in a platforming game isn’t exactly unusual. You’re always going to be jumping over pits and bopping enemies on the head. It’s just how the genre works. What I love about this game is that this is just the Addams’ home. This place isn’t possessed by evil magic or acting strangely. This house is ALWAYS like this. Nothing in the plot indicates things are off about the place. Swords are always falling from the ceiling. The furnace is always spewing lava. Bears always roam the gallery. This is just how they live.
Now, you get to experience a little taste of it for yourself. You can’t even walk up to your front door easily in The Addams Family. Plants nip at your heels. Skulls leap out of the trees. Ghosts flit around the graveyard that seems to be on your front lawn. A massive skeleton lumbers around your family crypt, which is filled with treasure and spike traps. You’ve barely set foot in the yard before a bunch of things try to kill you. Also, the colossal skeleton has the front door key. Way better than tucking it under a plant or doormat.
When you can manage to get inside the house without getting eaten or stabbed, you’ll be greeted with the sprawling mansion and its array of rooms. Enter the kitchen, and rodents the size of dogs will rush you. Cutlery will be flying all over the place, seemingly hurled by poltergeist activity. If you can dodge this stuff, maybe you can grab something to eat from the freezer, which happens to sprawl for hundreds of feet and is full of killer penguins. Want to warm up your meal (or a chilly family member)? Head to the furnace nearby, which is another big chamber filled with lava and roiling flames.
If you’ve managed to get your meal, you can head to the dining room. Maybe you can eat it before the troll kills you, or the nearby plants in the conservatory spit something toxic on your food. If you’re less interested in eating, why not take a stroll to the landing? Just mind the statues trying to cut you down and the cat-sized spiders. Or you can stop by the playroom and get mauled by a toy bear. Slip and bash your head in if you decide to take a shower in the bathroom thanks to living bars of slippery soap. No room in The Addams Family ever lets up. Also, why is the shower control like twenty feet in the air across the room?
It’s this constant creativity that really brings the mansion to life, offering unique dangers behind every single door. These hazards build on the oddball home from the tv show and movies, with the developers constantly asking themselves what new dangers could be inside each room. How can a bathroom or freezer become a dangerous place, one that makes for a suitable gameplay challenge, but also a suitable location within the home of this wonderfully bizarre family? The answers always delight and challenge.
You’ll have to deal with most of these dangers multiple times, so there’s no getting lucky as you play through The Addams Family. Items in one location are needed somewhere else. Things you do in one room affect another. Plus, you need to find family members and use their items/abilities to reach new places. There is some freedom to the order you collect and do things, giving you several routes to take through the game, but you’ll always face all of its dangers by the end. You get the full tour of the mansion no matter what.
There’s also all manner of secret places to explore while looking for the loot you’ll need to complete the game. You need to collect one million dollars if you want to access the final area. So, you’ll need to start looking around. Hidden doors and chambers abound, so you’ll be poking and prodding at every corner of the house, even as it’s trying to kill you. It rewards your curiosity, but it also punishes it with all of the different traps you’ll come across. Killer dolls, piranhas, birds throwing rocks, and monstrous dancing couples make it a treat to have to enter each room, even as these things try to kill you.
It’s rare that I’m delighted by the dangers of a game, but with The Addams Family home, how can you not have a wild place filled with all manner of deadly things? Seeing the creativity poured into making everyday rooms into hazard-filled deathtraps really captured the mood of the house. I love that this is the place where these people live, normally, and that this is just an inconvenience in their day-to-day lives. Sure, their sketchy lawyer is causing them trouble, but this is really just a slightly-more-difficult day in their family home. A quirky home that I loved finally getting to finally explore in-person. Even if I died constantly.
Gomez, though? Never stops smiling. He’s having a blast amidst the death and mayhem. This game really, really captures the mood of The Addams Family.