There are few cartoon rivals as iconic as Tom and Jerry. Debuting in 1940, this cat and mouse pair have maintained at least moderate popularity to the present day. Today, we’re going to be focusing on their first ever movie, more specifically the tie in video game based on it. Released in 1993, Tom and Jerry: The Movie would be the first time the pair starred in a feature film. While they have since starred in over a dozen direct to video movies, this was their only theatrical release until the recent 2021 mixed animated / live action movie. As such, it was of a much higher quality than the animated shorts the pair are known for, or even any of the following movies (excluding the 2021 release). I’m sure I saw the movie when it was released, but I’ll admit I have little memory of it, save for a single scene early in the film. I may have some details wrong, but as I remember it, after a typical Tom and Jerry fight, the pair are eventually kicked out of the house, and forced to live on the streets. They both verbally express frustration with their new situation and are simultaneously shocked to learn the other is capable of talking. When questioned, they both simply claimed they never had anything to say, and assumed the other couldn’t talk even if they did. It might not have been the most important scene in the movie, but it holds significance as the first time, to my knowledge, that either of them had spoken properly.
Sadly, the movie barely made back its budget, and received largely negative reviews. While I can’t find any reviews from the time, I can’t imagine this game adaptation was treated much better. Without giving away my whole review now, let me just leave you with this knowledge. I had intended to only write a 30 Minute Review on this game. But before the 30 minutes was over, I had actually completed the entire game. With so little game to talk about, let’s just dive right in.
The game begins with the very simple exposition that Tom somehow found a treasure map. However, Jerry quickly snatches it away from him and sets out to find the treasure for himself.
As would be expected, this makes Tom angry, and he chases after him. Cut to a picture of the map, and we can see that the whole game will only be 5 stages long, starting at “My Home”.
The stage starts with Jerry mocking Tom into chasing him. And of course, we take the bait and start after him, causing him to run away.
We quickly come to a floating platform in the middle of the house, and learn what type of game this is going to be. It’s not a game about chasing Jerry, it’s a game about navigating these random platforms. Tom can’t actually jump up onto these platforms as you might expect. Instead, he just kind of struggles to lift himself up onto them. He can jump from one platform to the next, but he has a relatively short range.
I think it’s important to also point out that Jerry is more of a background piece than an actual objective in this game. To my knowledge, you can’t actually catch him. Likewise, staying on the ground floor is often more dangerous than trying to stay on the platforms. Even if you do manage to stay close to Jerry, he will start throwing bombs at you to keep you back.
That’s not to say staying on the platforms is safe. There are other obstacles to avoid all throughout the stage. Ranging from rogue soccer balls, to falling ceiling lights. There are even some seemingly living brooms dancing around.
Like most games, there are of course health items scattered around the level as well. Many of which can only be acquired by solving a small puzzle, or simply staying on the platforms instead of the ground. In the above example, Tom can not fit through the gap to get the item. But the platform above the item is fake and will fall away once you stand on it.
You’ll want to keep your health as high as possible, because each stage ends with a boss fight. For this first stage, Jerry hides behind a very angry dog that I can’t say I recognize from the cartoon.
Now, I say boss fight, but really, it’s more of a puzzle. You need to bait the dog into chasing Tom and trick it into falling into this random bottomless pit in the middle of the house. Once the dog is gone, Tom is free to strangle the life out of Jerry as pay back for everything that happened.
After each stage, there is a small Bonus game. The first of which is a Pac-Man style game where Tom needs to collect hearts and try to capture Jerry. By some miracle, I actually managed to catch Jerry before I even managed to collect all the hearts.
Capturing Jerry awards extra health for the rest of the game and sends us into Stage 2 “The Night Town”.
Just like with the house, basically ignore Jerry, stay as high as possible on the platforms, and avoid danger. Also enjoy the Sega references in the background, like those Sonic posters and Restaurant Sega.
This stage features a few little things, like landmines on some of the platforms that explode when Tom lands on them, and some sections that fall away behind him. But other than that, there isn’t much to say about this whole stage.
Even the boss isn’t anything special. Two crows show up and start attacking Tom. But nothing is actually protecting Jerry, so just go over and strangle him to end the Stage.
Once again, there is a Bonus game between Stages. This time it’s a simple catch the fruit but not the bombs game. It gets fast very quickly, and you’ll almost certainly catch a few bombs by mistake.
I managed to catch 21 fruits, but that apparently wasn’t enough to earn any rewards. So, we’ll just head on to Stage 3 “On The Ship”.
At the start of Stage 3, we learn something very important. After getting distracted by the unexpected jumping fish, Tom falls into one of the bottomless pits. Except it’s not a bottomless pit at all. It’s just off screen. Tom is free to walk through these pits without fear.
A short distance away is a slightly more dangerous obstacle. For some reason, this cruise ship is equipped with a series of cannons just randomly lobbing cannonballs at guests as they walk across the deck. Seems like a lawsuit in the making to me.
After a few more fish, and a few more cannons, we find ourselves at the end of the Stage. This time, it actually is a moderately difficult boss fight. This angry little crab will spit bubbles at Tom that he has to jump over. But the attack doesn’t end there. Once the bubble reaches the edge of the screen, it will boomerang around and try to hit Tom again. This time, just duck under it, and the bubble will end up hitting the little crab instead.
Just keep up that simple pattern, and soon the crab will be knocked away by its own attack. This somehow causes the platform above Jerry to disappear. Without this protection, Tom is free to once again strangle the life out of him.
Bonus stage time, and we have a repeat of Pac-Man. The map is a little different, but it’s still the same mini game. I actually collect all the hearts first this time, and again somehow managed to catch Jerry.
Just like last time, that earns extra health going forward. Let’s see if we even need it as we head into Stage 4 “The Deserted Island”.
Right away, this Stage is just more of the same. Stay up on the platforms, make it to the right. There are new obstacles, like these moles, and some very angry mushrooms. But that’s about it.
About halfway through, there is a section with falling spikes, but this is more of an annoyance than a danger. After the first spike, we already know more spikes are going to fall. So, we just have to inch through. Jerry tries to make it harder by planting mines in the way, but they explode before we even get to them.
Soon, we make it to the end of the stage, and it isn’t immediately obvious what we have to do. Jerry is protected under a ledge, so we can’t just grab him. There are also a bunch of bats flying around outside of several cave entrances. Turns out, what we have to do is climb up the ledges, and there is a button just out of view.
Pressing that button removes the ledge protecting Jerry, and we can go strangle him. Honestly, the bats can pretty much just be ignored. It’s a fast enough trip up and back to just take the hits when they get in the way.
Time for the final Bonus game, and it’s the fruit and bombs game again. Same thing as last time, just catch the fruit, avoid the bombs.
We do slightly better this time, catching 24 fruits. And that ends up being enough to earn the extra health. We haven’t died yet, so let’s see if that extra health helps as we head into the final stage “The Labyrinth”.
The big thing that makes the final stage interesting is just how many buttons there are. Every few frames there will be a button either high up on a platform or trapped behind a small puzzle. Pressing these buttons will usually make the progress forward much easier, like removing the spike strips on the ground ahead.
In addition to the various buttons, you also need to be aware of the suits of armor that launch their heads around, and the lion heads that shoot fire at you. To be fair, the statues swing their head in a predictable circle around themselves, so you just have to wait till they’re done, and the lions are equally predictable with their fire balls.
This stage also made me aware of a mechanic that was probably always there, but I never really noticed. The screen doesn’t advance as you do, it advances as Jerry does. Jerry usually stays in frame, and waits for you, so it was never really an issue. But in this stage, he would sometimes take a few extra steps, usually so he can clear a spike trap himself, which has the potential to push Tom into danger as the screen progresses.
Take it slow, and you’ll soon make it to the end. But before that, the game does act a little sneaky. Right before the boss fight, there are these two very easy to press buttons. If you press either of them, a platform will appear, making it impossible to collect the health item and heal up before battle. Avoid both of them to enter the final boss fight in peak condition.
Onto the final battle, and this snake isn’t playing around. Right away it launches a skull into the air, causing several move to rain down on top of you. After that, he’ll try a more direct attack of just knocking it straight at you. You need to be quick to have Tom jump over it in time.
Just like with the crab, you also need to avoid the skull’s return trip. If you manage to avoid it both times, it will slam into the snake instead of Tom.
Now that we know the pattern, it’s not that hard of a battle. Stand in the gaps between the falling skulls when he throws it and jump over the skull when he rolls it. After a few cycles of this, a treasure chest will fall from the sky and crush the snake to death.
Tom captures Jerry and ties him up before opening the treasure chest. Inside, he finds a scroll which reads…
“This is the real treasure map. Now, another adventure is waiting for you!”
Seeing this, Jerry frees himself, grabs this new treasure map, and the chase is on once more. Roll credits!
Gameplay – 4 / 10
The fact that Tom can’t simply jump up to the platforms slows the game down to be more of a puzzle game than an action platformer. But it’s not a very good puzzle game, because the solution was usually “Climb the only platform”. Climbing the platforms also causes you to lose sight of Jerry, which kind of negates the sense that you’re chasing him. He might as well have just been waiting at the end of the stage for Tom to show up. It’s not like you could catch him before then anyway. To the games credit, Tom controls very well, especially in the boss fights when you need to react quickly to jump over an attack, and immediately react again as the attack boomerangs back.
Graphics – 8 / 10
This is probably where the game shines the most. For a Game Gear game, this has pretty good graphics. Tom and Jerry are both animated quite nicely. Each of the Stages had unique settings and enemies, complete with the occasional easter egg. There wasn’t a lot to the game, but what was presented was mostly animated very well. I’m a little confused why the intro has them just looking at the text rather than the picture narrative they used in the ending. But that’s about my only complaint with the graphical choices.
Audio – 2 / 10
I’ve never had to do this before, but the music in this game was so completely generic and forgettable that even after playing the game, and rewatching the recording to collect screenshots, I had to rewatch the whole playthrough a second time just to remember what the music even was. I give it 2 points instead of 1 because at least each level had its own music track. I think. I’m writing this immediately after watching the recording and I’m already forgetting what the music was. What I do remember is that nowhere in the game did I hear the classic Tom and Jerry theme song, so total fail as far as I’m concerned.
Story – 0 / 10
As with most non-RPG games, the story is practically an afterthought. Tom finds a map, Jerry steals it, and they go on an adventure to find the treasure. It’s a perfectly reasonable story for this type of game. However, this is specifically “Tom and Jerry: The Movie”. It has been a long time since I’ve actually seen the movie, but judging by the Wikipedia summary, this game has practically nothing to do with the movie it’s supposed to be based on. So, because of that, the game gets a straight fail in the story category.
Total Playtime – 0h 20m
Like I said in the intro, I had intended this to be a 30 Minute Review. But before the 30 minutes were over, I had beaten the game. Also note that 20 minutes is from the time I turn the game on until the time I turn it off. So, excluding things like playing around in the settings, the into, outro, and credits, the game itself was only maybe 15 minutes long.
Total Deaths – 0 Deaths
That’s right, I made it thought the whole game without a single death. I do have a slight confession. Before making my gameplay recording, I played the game for a few minutes to just see what type of game it was, and in those few minutes made it all the way to the final boss before I turned it off to record. In that FIRST play through, I think I died 4 times. Twice in the first level just getting a feel for the controls, once to the crab boss in Stage 3, and once trying to navigate the final Stage. Had I attempted to beat the game then, I probably would have died one more time to the final boss before I saw the pattern. So we’ll say 5 deaths total on a very first playthrough, while not really trying, and still beating the game in under 20 minutes. I do want to note here that there is an option for Tom to DIVE at Jerry. I found no practical use for this ability, since Jerry always runs away, and it wasn’t until after my first death that I noticed every missed dive was actually causing injury to Tom. So yeah, this game has a button to injure yourself.
Overall Score – 3 / 10
I feel bad giving this game such a low score, since I wasn’t unhappy while playing it. But it’s too short, not very challenging, and has nothing to do with the movie it’s supposed to be based on. There is a hard difficulty option, which might make the game slightly more replayable, but I can’t imagine it does anything more than increasing the damage taken to a full heart of health instead of half a heart. At the end of the day, there simply isn’t enough substance here to really justify any higher of a score. I feel like it needs stating one more time, I only intended to check out the game, and I accidentally beat it. I know the game is probably aimed at a much younger audience, but that’s still somewhat disappointing. I’ve never had that easy of a time beating a game, and I feel like even as a kid I would have been disappointed with that level of oversimplicity. Tom and Jerry have several others games, hopefully one of them is better, but this one, I can’t recommend.
Not in this game it’s not.
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