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Adventures of Tom Sawyer Review

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Developer: Seta Publisher: Seta
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

Good old platformers, got to love ’em! I’ve mentioned it before, so go read the reviews, but Hudson’s Adventure Island games really set a standard for platformers in the 8-Bit era, so much so that several companies made a crack at similiar games. Right around the same time as the first title, in fact, Seta, who didn’t really release anything of merit during this time, developed a game with the same sort of concepts as Adventure Island, calling it Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Based loosely on the book, though more on the cartoon series, it follows the exploits of Tom and Huck (should you choose two players) through dreamland after he falls asleep in school. Overall, it tends to be viewed as pretty bland, and it is, but it has a little charm to it that some platforming fans may find somewhat amusing.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is pretty weak graphically. You have a decent opening story and then the game proper, which has to be one of the most sparse environments I’ve ever seen. I mean there’s really nothing going on here, and mind you Adventure Island was repetitive, but something about this particular game makes it seem quite depressing. The main reason is a simple lack of detail, there just isn’t enough to make some of the stages feel substantial. Cloudless skies, bland patterened walls that repeat into infinity with no variation, they needed to add a bit more in the details. The haunted house is really the only area that you see any, but this is marred afterwards by a cloud world with some of the strangest, most nonsensical things I’ve ever seen. I mean, I know this is taking place in a dream, but don’t use that to just say screw the programming in the process and do whatever you want. Why are there clouds shaped like houses with little Hershey Kiss looking enemies jumping about? Why is there a pagan God attacking me? Shouldn’t there be something that fits the theme of the novel? The bosses tend to be well designed and are the best show of graphics in this title, but overall Tom/Huck (palatte swap trick of course), the enemies, obstacles and so forth are pretty bland. Could have done better considering the time.

The music in Adventures of Tom Sawyer is mixed in my opinion. The opening theme sets up a nice dreamlike state that fits the story, but the first level track is absolutely dreadful. I don’t even know how to explain it really, suffice to say it’s quite out of place. After this things get better. You have the raft stage on the Mississippi with a great track, the forest with a track that doesn’t fit, the haunted house with a nice creepy track, cloud land with a well, weird sort of thing going on there, pretty lame boss music and an awesome final level tune. Overall, not bad, some of them are fairly catchy, but the sound effects are sparse, there are perhaps four at most, the same dull thud for every enemy you kill or boss you hit. There isn’t much more to it than that unfortunately, but at least the music is decent, though it doesn’t create the atmosphere you’d want.

As for the gameplay, Adventure of Tom Sawyer is your typical platformer. You run around, jump and attack things. That’s about it, and that’s about all you can say about this game. There really isn’t much to it. The controls are fluid and responsive, aside from some shaky jumping at times, but otherwise you have one attack and almost no power-ups at all. You have some ‘T’ icons to collect for 1-Ups that are basically just like coins, a skull that diminishes your supply before you get a 1-Up, invincibility and a slingshot that you use for a limited time (not that much of a help since the arc of your rocks is more useful). A game with graphics this bland needs a little more in this category, and Adventures of Tom Sawyer really doesn’t provide. In addition, it’s way too easy, the most novice of games shouldn’t have any problem with it except at a few moments. All of the bosses, in fact, take like two seconds to destroy and most of them don’t even move. They just sit there and you hit their target and that’s all. Two redeeming qualities though are, one, in spite of the fact that’s it’s pretty bland overall, it’s ease of play makes it actually fairly entertaining for the most part. In addition to this, two, the programmers through in a bunch of little secrets and surprises that give it a bit of flair here and there, such as a balloon in the cloud level you can catch to bypass a huge chunk of the level, the raft level itself (probably the most entertaining level minus the boss), a hidden leprechaun that gives you an extra life if you find where he’s hiding and others. It adds this bit of fun to an otherwise tame title, so I’m glad there’s something, otherwise I probably would have fallen asleep. Most gamers will find it pretty boring, though, but if you stick it through you’ll find some charm here, just don’t expect to be wowed.

As for creativity, Adventures of Tom Sawyer really doesn’t have much to offer. It throws a little variety at you with some different levels and secrets, but otherwise it’s just another platformer in an era when you had games like Super Mario Bros. 2 on the market. Thus, not surprisingly, it didn’t do very well and most people don’t even know it exists. I seem to recall some really, really brief mentionings in a Nintendo Power once, but that’s it. That should tell you all you need to know about how creative it is. They did a bit with the idea, but not enough to stand out in any way, just trying to take a small chunk of the platformer market.

As for game length, Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a decent run overall, it probably takes a little over forty minutes to complete it, so it isn’t too long or too short, and that can be a good thing now and then. I can’t say I wouldn’t play it in the future either, it’s easy to pick up and jump into, so perhaps the generally basic gameplay had a reason after all. I wouldn’t exactly play it every day, but there’s nothing really stopping me from doing it some point in the future, albeit distant future.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a perfect example of a footnote game, we’ll call it, I think I’ll use that from now on. It’s a title that was released to basically cash in on already established ideas but wasn’t really willing to go too much further. They basically said ‘let’s stick to what works and do what we can with it.’ Perhaps worth a play now and then, but as far as having a lasting impression on me, it really doesn’t. It’s just your basic game, basic fun, basic graphics, basic sound, and thus you’ll have only basic interest. Don’t expect more than that.

Graphics: 5.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 3.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 5.5
Written by Stan Review Guide