Fester’s Quest (NES)

Fester's Quest Box Art

Fester’s Quest

System: NES

Release Date: September 1989

Developer: Sunsoft

Publisher: Sunsoft

Genre: Shoot ‘em Up

Ahhhh… Fester’s Quest… how I hate thee. Let me count the ways… If you detect some disgust in my voice, you win today’s prize. I hate Fester’s Quest and it stems from feelings toward it as a child. Imagine my fury when I got a Game Genie and tried to get codes to beat this game that weren’t there… The alien invasion has succeeded in abducting life on Earth and replacing it with extraterrestrial fauna. All except the Addams Family, that is. Gomez has to protect his family, so it’s up to the powder white, bald, insane Uncle Fester to stop moonbathing and save the day.

The first thing you should notice is that the play screen looks like the interior buildings in Blaster Master. This is the reason I was so excited for Fester’s Quest as a kid, because I was expecting a continuation of Blaster Master exploration. What you get, instead, is an incredibly linear experience that is exacerbated by non-stop enemy spawning. That wouldn’t have been terrible, but the amount of shots required to destroy each enemy can become ridiculous. This is one of those games that requires a turbo controller. The manual spells that out for you at the end, seriously, don’t bother torturing yourself trying to play without turbo functionality.

Fester’s gun can be upgraded with blue “GUN” icons and downgraded with magenta icons. You want to upgrade as quickly as possible to the level 8 gun and then be incredibly careful not to grab the downgrade. The guns are all infuriating. Most of them spread out and the entirety of a shot is dissipated when it hits a wall. This wouldn’t have been awful, except the fact the corridors are super slim. Pair that with constantly spawning enemies and you have a recipe for disaster.

You also collect money, light bulbs, and keys. Money is used to buy hot dogs for $5, which replenish health. Light bulbs light up the underground, which is the connective tissue between overworld areas and also the annoying cramped areas that make the gun ineffective. Keys open doors to houses, where members of the family give you special items. They also open 3D mazes that lead to boss battles. The boss battles are all pretty terrible. They’re reminiscent of the Blaster Master bosses, but they’re just bullet sponges. The pattern of find the weak spot, chug potions when your health gets low, or chug invisibility potions until you unload hundred of bullets and finish it off.

If you die, and you will die, you don’t lose your weapon levels. You don’t even lose your items. You just have to start back at the beginning and drudge through the entire path you’ve taken up until that point. It’s not terribly long, but it’s terribly boring. And the constant enemy spawning… you’re liable to die again before you make it back to where you were. The final area is in the space ship, which pits you against more ridiculous bullet sponges. Then the final boss… oh the final boss. I took a save state at the beginning of the battle, because I was not willing to walk the whole game back. I finally settled on blasting away with all my missiles to start things off in order to win. I will note that I beat this game legit back in about 2010. Told myself I’d never have to play it again. Now that is true.

Graphics: 1.0

Everything looks blobby and bad. The bosses are the only things that look relatively cool.

Sound: 2.0

The music is the best thing Fester’s Quest does. That’s the best thing I can say.

Gameplay: 0.5

The gun play is terrible and that’s what this game is.

Difficulty: 1.0

Continues are unlimited, but starting from the beginning when you die is infuriating.

Fun Factor: 0.0

This game is absolutely not fun. Don’t play this crap.

Overall Grade: 0.9

Fester’s Quest earns a D. It should really get a 0.0, because it’s garbage, but there is enough there to be given something.