Who Framed Roger Rabbit (NES)

Cover Taken From TheCoverProject.net

Prediction

Every kid grows up watching cartoons. Some might even wish the characters were real, and hope to become friends with them. While such a scenario is still impossible, we can at least see how it might play out thanks to the masterful movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This was and still is one of my favorite movies of all time. For those of you who may have never seen it, it is a mix of live action and animation as if the cartoon characters were actually there. The basic story is that Marvin Acme, Owner of both Acme Corporation and Toontown, has been found dead, with Roger Rabbit as the main suspect. Wanting to prove his innocence, Roger enlists the aid of detective Eddie Valiant. However, Judge Doom and his band of Weasels are hot on their tail, intent on delivering swift justice should they manage to get their hands on Roger.

As far as the game goes, it is produced by LJN, which already doesn’t give me much hope. They were great at getting the licensing agreements, but rarely were they good at actually producing a good game. However, I’m going to go into this with an open mind. Considering the type of movie it was, and the few screenshots I have seen of the game, I’m going to guess this will be along the lines of a point and click adventure. Perhaps something similar to any of the recent Telltales Games titles. We’ll have to search for clues and items, and then use those items to make progress in the story. Basically more puzzles, and less action. With that prediction out of the way, let’s see what the game is really like.

Gameplay

The game begins in Eddie Valiant’s office with no explanation at all on what we’re supposed to be doing. Wonderful. Roger is already here with us, so I’m going to assume he is already wanted for murder like he was in the movie. It doesn’t seem like we can do much in here, so we head outside to the overworld and all its nondescript buildings.

I guess we’re supposed to be looking for clues to clear Roger’s name, and we need to search inside the different buildings. Unfortunately, some of them seem to be locked and we have no way in. Even when we can get in to the buildings, I’m not sure what we’re even looking for. Thankfully the people in the building seem to know. Or at least they know enough that whatever it is we’re looking for isn’t in the building.

Death Count: 01

As we head to another building, we end up getting hit in the head with a falling plant, and Eddie dies instantly from it. Well, not really die, he’s sitting there shaking his fist at me, so he’s still alive. But he might as well be dead.

Death Count: 02

After asking around at several buildings, we finally find an occupant who advise us to search the building. Unfortunately, Eddie ends up getting killed by a rat before we get the chance. This just annoys me. There’s no way to defend against the rat, it moves so damn fast, and it doesn’t even always kill us. Sometimes it will just kind of nudge us, other times it will outright kill us. I don’t see any kind of health meter that is going down, so I have no idea what the rules are for when it’s a nudge and when it’s an instant death.

Death Count: 03

The inside of the building isn’t any better, there are dogs and cats everywhere just waiting for the chance to attack us. Once again, sometimes they just nudge us, but other times they kill us instantly. I JUST WANT TO KNOW THE RULES!!!

When we finally do get to one of the rooms, we don’t find anything of interest. Most of the rooms have a single occupant, but they all just say to search the building. Well I’ve been searching the building and I don’t see anything! I can’t even figure out HOW to search the drawers or anything like that. Nothing seems to be interactable. I know they are, I did it accidentally before. But I can’t figure out what I did differently then versus now. I’m going to have to google the manual for this game, because I’m not making any progress at all.

Ok, so I guess we need to press Up and B at the same time to do a search. Time to start searching through every drawer we find. Most of them are empty, but in one we find Roses. Is that what we were looking for? Are roses a clue? Or an item? What are I supposed to do with these roses?

Back to the manual again, it looks like we can swap out the item we’re holding by pressing the select button. Great! Now we’re holding the Roses… This doesn’t help me at all. Talking to the occupants, they still tell me to search the building. Is that a default dialog? Is that going to change once I find the thing? I have no idea what we’re doing right now…

I can’t find anything else in any of the rooms, so we leave. Before long we find ourselves in front of Maroon Cartoons. A random passerby suggests we search this building. I would agree, there are probably lots of clues in there. Unfortunately, that black void in front of the building is not allowing us to actually enter the building. Once again, I have no idea what’s going on, or why we can’t do this simple thing, but we can’t.

Death Count: 04

We do spy a whistle on the ground though, which looks promising. Unfortunately, there is a black Demon Cat guarding it that simply kills us instantly if we even get close to it. With that, we lose our last life and get a game over. Good thing we still have 2 continues, because we haven’t accomplished anything yet.

Death Count: 06

We try again to get the whistle, and once again die instantly. We would have tried for it a third time, but one of the Weasels shows up and stops us. Roger quickly jumps up out of reach from him while Eddie tries to fight him off. But with the short reach of Eddie’s attacks, that ends predictably in failure.

When we come to, we run away as quick as we can. However, it’s still following us, and we have to fight it again in front of the next building. It is here that we learn Eddie can actually charge up his attack if we keep pressing the attack button over and over again. Doing this, we just wait for the Weasel to get close enough and then POW, straight to the moon!

Death Count: 07

Unfortunately, he shows up again almost instantly as soon as we come out of the building, which was empty. This time we get a few hits in, but the Weasel ends up killing Eddie. Once again, there is no health bar, so I have no idea if an attack is going to just bounce me back, or straight up kill me. Is it random chance?

Death Count: 08

After searching several move buildings that are apparently all empty, we have a random encounter with a little red snake. Given our previous animal encounters so far, I would assume we don’t want to mess with it, so we start running in the opposite direction. But the little bastard chases us down, and after a few blocks finally catches and kills us both… Perfect, another game over and we still have done nothing.

As we start the next life, we quickly make what feels like progress. We find some spring shoes, which might come in handy, as well as a drawer full of cheese. Maybe we can use this to distract some of the Killer Rats?

Death Count: 09

Things quickly take a turn for the worse after that. As we were crossing the road, Roger got hit by a car and flattened like a pancake. But he’s a toon, so he’ll just shake it off. Unfortunately, a vulture swooped down at just that same moment and carried him off. Apparently if Roger gets eaten by a bird, we also lose, so that’s another death for us.

Death Count: 10

Once we get Roger back, we continue the search and quickly find some random dynamite sitting in front of a building. But there is a Demon Dog guarding it. Not that we really think it will work, but we equip the spring shoes to try to jump over it… They didn’t help.

Ignoring the random dynamite, we continue on and eventually find a random crowbar on the ground. We pick it up and quickly make the connection that it might be able to break the locks off the doors. It does, but not in the way you might think. We can’t USE the crow bar on the lock, Eddie can only throw it. And if we’re too close to the lock, we just wasted a crowbar. What we have to do is stand a little ways away and throw it at the lock. Because that makes sense.

Inside, we quickly find… a heart? Is that like, someone’s actual heart just sitting on the ground? There’s no life bar for it to refill. And using it just has Eddie place it on the ground for it to disappear a few seconds later… So yeah, we are carrying around a couple of real human hearts right now…

Death Count: 11

I’m guessing that might have been a mistake. We’re definitely carrying around evidence of a murder now. Maybe not the murder we were investigating, but someone’s murder. As if to prove this theory, a couple of Weasels start chasing us down as soon as we leave the building. They catch us of course, and there is apparently a minigame to get away from them, but it’s seemingly impossible. We are given only 7 seconds after the joke is said to not only comprehend the joke, but understand the punchline, which I’m guessing we can then pick from a set of punchlines on the left, but I couldn’t figure out how to change the selection. So we die yet again.

Death Count: 12

We then make no progress at all with the next life. We weren’t paying attention, walked off the sidewalk, and Eddie was hit by a car. He’s not a toon, so he will not be recovering from that…

Now that we’ve used up all our continues, it’s Game Over for good. We do get a save code either way though, so we might as well start the game back up with this code and see where it puts us.

Turns out we get to start the game back at Eddie Valiant’s office, except we still have all the items we had before. If that’s the case, what’s the point of the lives and the continues if we’re just going to be able to keep going indefinitely?

We head in the opposite direction this time from Eddie’s office, and quickly find ourselves in a store selling dynamite. I would like to purchase this, but nothing I do seems to make a difference. So eventually we just leave without it.

Death Count: 13

The next building over, however, has a detonator just sitting on the ground. There is a Demon Rat guarding it though. It does kill us once, but we quickly learn to put down the cheese first to distract it, and then the detonator is ours.

Now that we have a detonator, I’m gonna head back to that store and set off that dynamite. Fuck him, I’ll kill us all if he’s not going to sell it to me! THAT got his attention. As soon as I try to blow us all up, he tells me how to buy something from him. Apparently we need to equip the wallet first. I should have guessed. After doing that, we can finally purchase the dynamite. Though truth be told, I don’t know why I want the dynamite in the first place…

Death Count: 14

And it doesn’t look like we’ll be finding out now. Shortly after leaving the store, the Weasels show up yet again to make our lives just a little bit harder. We elude them for a while, but once we got into the mountains completely outside town, I figured we might as well just let them catch us. Once again, I have failed to figure out how to change my answer and Roger is killed.

Death Count: 15

Our day just keeps getting worse from there. As we continued to search the various buildings, we came across one where we’re killed instantly as soon as we entered it. That little Demon Rat was standing RIGHT by the door, and killed us as soon as the screen loaded.

Death Count: 17

In fact, that little bastard killed us two more times as soon as we respawned. We were lucky to escape when we did, or we might have been trapped forever right there.

Once inside, we learn that there is actually something in this building to search for, so at least the deaths weren’t a complete waste. However, what we find is just a rattle. Once again, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with this.

As if to add insult to injury, once we leave the building, it looks like the Rat outside has ALSO somehow found a rattle. We manage to collect that one too, but now we just have two rattles that we don’t know what to do with.

Somehow we stumble upon the Ink N Paint Club. Of course, we can’t get past the bouncer at the door… At least I think he’s really there. He looks like he might just be a poster on the wall since he’s not moving at all. Anyway, we try to find another way in, but no such luck. The only thing we find is this damn vulture that keeps dropping bombs on our head.

Death Count: 20

Our search for clues continues rather unsuccessfully. After walking into a few empty buildings, Eddie ends up getting mauled to death by another Demon Dog. Later, while starting a conversation with a random passerby, a flower pot falls on his head and kills him before he can even get a word out. And then we followed that up with him getting bitten by a venomous snake. Who would have guessed that 1940’s Hollywood could be so dangerous?!

We do have a little bit of luck though. After recovering from the snake bite, the Weasels catch us yet again. However, the joke being told just so happened to line up with the default punchline this time. So we still have no idea how to CHANGE the punchline, but at least we know for sure that giving the correct punchline with allow us to get away.

Death Count: 21

Unfortunately, we don’t live much longer after getting away from the Weasels. As soon as we rounded the next corner, Roger got picked up by a random vulture and was carried off to be its next meal…

Death Count: 22

Shortly after that, we encounter a building we can’t enter. It doesn’t have a lock on it or anything, so I’m not really sure what the problem is. But then one of the other Weasels shows up and it all makes sense. Unfortunately, we had our wallet equipped instead of our fist. By the time we managed to fix that, we must have taken too much damage to our invisible health bar, because it was only one more hit before we died.

We do make a small amount of progress though. On the south side of town we find a brick wall blocking a tunnel. I’m not sure why, but when we interacted with it, it flew away. So that must be good, I think.

Unfortunately, you may have noticed the Weasels rounding the corner in that last picture. Needless to say, we didn’t make it far before they caught us. On the plus side, we finally figured out how to change the punchline. All we need to do is press the Select button. Somehow we even manage to get the right punchline as well.

Death Count: 24

Oh, and that tunnel. It doesn’t go anywhere. Nothing in this game goes anywhere. All you do is wander around and die. Will we get hit by a car? Will we get caught by the Weasels? Or will this stupid bird simply fly off with Roger? Well it turns out the Bird won this round. So on that note, I have had enough of this game. I Quit!

Verdict

Price – $9.44

Even at that low price I feel like I was ripped off.

Play Again? – ARE YOU CRAZY?!

I can almost guarantee that I will not be playing this game again.

Total Deaths – 24 Deaths

I was not expecting to rack up a body count like this in what I thought was going to be a point and click adventure. There are simply too many random elements in this game that can kill you. And I’m still annoyed that I don’t understand why sometimes I die and other times I just get bumped back. There is no health bar or anything that I can see to indicate when it would be one or the other. Not to mention the whole lives and continues aspect is made pointless by the fact that you get a continue code on the Game Over screen anyway. The only thing you lose from having to start with the code is your exact position on the map. Even if the game simply gave you infinite lives, just take a look at that death count! 24 deaths in only 30 minutes of play. That’s practically a death a minute. There’s no reason for a game like this to have a body count like that!

Fun Rating – 2 / 10

At its core, this is still basically a puzzle game. Once we find the appropriate items to solve the appropriate problem, we could probably get through the game pretty easily. However, getting to that point is beyond tedious. There are so many things that kill you for no apparent reason. While annoying, it is something that can be accepted since death doesn’t really mean anything in this game. However, there are dozens of buildings in the city with no defining characteristics on the world map. So it’s hard to tell where you even are. Most of these buildings are empty, making them additionally pointless. Thankfully there are people inside to tell you they are empty. Honestly, thank god for that, because each building has several rooms which themselves have several spots to search. Having to go through the dozen or so hiding places is bad enough in a building you know has something to find. Having to search an empty building would just be torture. Honestly, I’m really upset that this game turned out as bad as it did. I’m actually a fan of this type of game, and like I said before Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of my favorite movies. In the end, this is just another victim of LJN and their notoriously terrible game design.

Why would anyone want to continue this game?

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