Review by Denouement

Reviewed: 04/02/03 | Updated: 04/10/03

Who’s the mac, in fact, who’s the black jack; sit back and get fat off the fat cat

You’ve been here before. You remember your Saturday morning cartoons, those idle mornings spent in front of the television, wasting away your precious youth. Tom and Jerry was one of these not-so-classics. In this show, a clever and resourceful mouse (that’s Jerry) seeks to thwart the attacks of the clumsy and angry cat (that’s Tom) in order to save his hide and get his delicious cheese. There’s a word to describe this kind of mouse-chases-cat scenario, exactly the opposite of what one might expect, but ironically that word escapes me.

The video game diverges a bit from the television series, in that Jerry will no longer be beating Tom through trickery and guile, but through simple platforming skills. The title is a simple two-dimensional platform game, where the screen scrolls to either side and up or down as you move Jerry. The game takes him through the entire house, from top to bottom, in a quest to reach the attic and find his nephew Tuffy, kidnapped by Tom in an act of unspeakable villainy. Of course, the kidnapping was simply a lure to bring Jerry out into the open, and Tom is lying in wait for the mouse hero at the end of every stage. The ancient rivalry between the two battered combatants is hardly explored in the game, so you might want to tune in for a few episodes of the show before you fire this cartridge up in your NES.

The game is divided in classic platformer style into worlds and smaller stages. From the first stage, the basement, Jerry proceeds to the kitchen, then outside and onto the roof, and eventually to the attic where Tuffy is imprisoned. Now, from the human perspective, this journey may not seem like much. You might think, I travel that far every morning, when I head from my bed to the couch downstairs, and again at night when I go back from the couch to the bed. Not to imply that you spend the whole day on the couch. But hey, all those bedsores mean something. Regardless of your laziness, this journey is not so simple for a diminutive fellow like Jerry.

Small drainage pipes appear like mountains to our hero, and he must jump over and around them to navigate his way through the opening basement levels; the same goes for branches and roots when he’s outside. However, he has the ability to climb up some fixtures and those powerful rodent legs allow him to leap quite high in the air. Still, guiding Jerry to his destination is almost like navigating through a maze. Jerry isn’t alone in this maze either; a variety of enemies are here to deter him, and some stationary obstacles will do damage to him, like a tack left carelessly on the floor. Even flimsy spider webs can slow him down significantly.

Before you try to cross a spider web, you’ll want to kill the spider that inhabits it. To do that, Jerry will utilize one of the weapons at this disposal: an endless supply of blue marbles provides his main offensive firepower, but he can also acquire new weapons during the course of the game, like mothballs and tiny hammers. Just the kind of stuff he finds lying around his mouse-hole.

Visually, the game looks much like the TV show, which means that the animation is quite impressive. The environments are bursting with color, and the different stages provide a variety of different designs for the various obstacles and ladders. Jerry is also a pretty nice looking sprite, but the enemies are not so well done, especially minor enemies like flies and spiders. The brand license has paid off well for Altron’s sound department. Instead of writing new music for the game, they just used themes from the cartoon, and it works fine.

There is nothing exceptional here. Tom and Jerry’s typical platform action is hardly revolutionary or even original, but the obstacles and enemies are both tough and well devised, making for a fairly entertaining game. If you like the cartoon show or just have a few hours to waste, pick up Tom and Jerry and let the mouse-and-cat chase begin. And I still can’t remember the word to describe that flip-flop scenario…I wrote this whole review and it never came to me. Sorta ironic, huh?

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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