Review by Bouchart
A little too frustrating for children, and not interesting enough for adults
Tom and Jerry is a simple platformer that suffers from stiff controls and is overall a bland and forgettable experience. While it was released shortly after the Tom and Jerry movie in 1992, the game has nothing to do with the movie whatsoever.
The game has very little plot, which is told only in the manual in a couple of sentences. The player plays as Jerry, and must travel from a movie theater to back home, all while trying to avoid being clobbered by Tom. There is a two player mode, which is nothing more than the single player experience except players alternate turns. In two player mode, the second player plays as Tuffy, who is said to be Jerry's nephew.
The controls seem simple at first. The B button jumps. Most enemies can be defeated by jumping on them a few times. The A, X, or Y buttons throw marbles if the player has any. The Y button throws them with a bit of an arc. A and X throws them directly forward. The difference is marginal in most instances. Marbles kill enemies in one hit and they are also needed for three of the four boss fights. Marbles are extremely abundant and it is nearly impossible to run out of them without intentionally wasting them.
There is also a high jump, which is awkward to use and is the game's biggest flaw. On landing from a jump, pressing B at just the right time makes Jerry jump higher than the first jump. The timing is finicky and even with practice this is difficult to do consistently. A few levels in the later part of the game require high jumps to bypass pits, often with the use of springs, and missing a high jump often results in death.
In total there are twelve levels, divided into four sets of three. Each set has its own theme. The first is a movie theater, the second is a junkyard, the third is a toy store and the fourth is a house. The first two levels in a set consist of ordinary platforming where it is only necessary to reach the exit. The third has platforming in the first part and then a boss fight with Tom. Ordinary enemies include various insects, and also objects relevant to the level's theme, such as toy robots and tanks in the toy store. With a few enemies it is hard to tell what exactly they are supposed to be. One enemy in the theater levels looks like some kind of alien. Enemy behavior is very simple, as most only move back and forth between two points. Few, if any at all, fire projectiles.
The four boss fights involve memorizing a simple pattern. In the first two, the player must dodge a few obstacles and then throw a number of marbles at Tom's head. The third is the closest this game has to an original idea and it plays like more of a puzzle. Toy robots with bombs fall from the top of the screen and it is necessary to jump on switches to create platforms so that they can reach Tom. The final boss spans most of the level and involves avoiding a simple pattern and throwing marbles at Tom. This fight repeats itself three times and is the longest and possibly least interesting level in the game.
The player has five hits in total before dying. Finding a cheese wedge restores a hit. Falling from too great of a height or running out of time also results in death. One problem with a few levels is that the screen doesn't scroll downwards much, so areas where the player has to move downwards a lot it is easy to miss a platform and then die. Time is rarely a problem, since ninety seconds is plenty except possibly in one or two long stages such as the final one. The player starts with five lives, and losing them all the game resets to the title screen. Collecting one hundred cheese balls or a rare 1-up icon awards an extra life. There is no save or password feature and the game lacks an option menu. While the game keeps score, there is no high score table anywhere.
The music consists of only four songs, one of them being a rendition of the Tom and Jerry theme used in the cartoons. These songs get old quickly. Surprisingly there isn't unique music for boss fights or the final boss.
A skilled player could probably play through the game in less than an hour with a little practice. While the game is in theory more suited for children, the occasionally difficult jumping and the lack of a password feature to continue progress might make the game too frustrating for them. Ultimately, Tom and Jerry is playable, but the game does nothing interesting at all and it won't be appealing to many people.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Tom and Jerry (US, 04/30/93)
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