SETA - 1989 - Famicom/NES
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a standard action platformer, and extremely bizarre interpretation of Tom Sawyer, that strongly resembles Super Mario Bros. In the game, Tom has fallen asleep, and the game itself is Tom’s dream. In it, Becky has been captured by Injun Joe, and Tom must embark on a quest through the games 6 levels to rescue her. You can either play single or multiplayer, the multiplayer being turn based again like in SMB, where you take turns playing as Tom and Huck.
From the first level, it’s obvious that the makers of the game tried very hard to replicate Super Mario Bros and other popular games of the time. The main characters even resemble Mario and Luigi; Tom being dressed in a red shirt with blue suspenders, and Huck, dressed in a green shirt with white suspenders, and the game even begins with you having to jump over barrels, much like in Donkey Kong. For most the levels, you must either jump over or defeat oncoming enemies such as pirates and assorted wild life. You can attack by throwing an endless supply of rocks you have hidden in your pockets. The rocks travel in an arch, which means that once an enemy is close by, you will no longer be able to hit them, and must jump over them. Some enemies will drop a slingshot icon, which allows you to attack by firing a shot in a straight line across the screen. It is slightly more powerful then the normal attack, but only lasts a limited time. Enemies will also drop one of three other icons. A “T” icon, which will award you with an extra life if you gather 20, a Skull icon, which erases 10 of your “T” icons, and a Heart icon, that acts like the Star in Mario, granting limited invincibility.
Remember that time Tom Sawyer fought that giant octopus?
The game is broken up into 6 levels, 5 of which are standard platform setups, and one, the 2nd level, being an overhead game where you must pilot a raft down the Mississippi river. The other levels consist of a haunted mansion, a cloud world (with a brief flying section), and a forest that has a brief section where you jump along giant mushrooms (another obvious Super Mario reference)
The game suffers from some very stiff controls at times, with jumping being one of the main annoyances. Once you jump, you can’t move forward or back, which makes for some rather stiff platforming. This becomes a bit of a problem later in the game, when you are jumping over pits that leave you little room for error, the worst of which being just before your fight with the final boss. Also, in the raft section, you can move in the air when you jump, but your raft doesn’t move along with you, making it easy to accidentally fall into the water.
Remember that time Tom Sawyer fought Grape Ape?
My last real problem with the game, more of a personal complaint, is how easy most of the bosses are. Many of them are defeated with only a few shots, and some barely even attack you at all. In fact, the final boss fight with Injun Joe is almost impossible to lose at, with him only attacking once every few seconds, and only attacking by firing a single arrow at the ground.
While it desperately tries to be like one of the big boys, it just ends up feeling very dull. I actually enjoyed the cute graphics, and the music isn’t…..too awful…. But the game feels very speedily put together. It often feels either too easy, or annoyingly hard, and never really comes off as an enjoyable game to me. I ended up wanting to beat it out of spite more then anything else. When it comes down to it, it’s just an okay platformer, and with so many better ones on the NES, there just doesn’t feel like a reason to choose this one.
But, when it comes to other games for the NES based on Tom Sawyer….it could be much worse….