An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was released in 1994 by Hudson Soft. The game was based off the animated movie of the same name that was released in 1991. A bit odd that a game was released three years after the movie hit theatres. Is that a sign for a late cash grab? Or a sign that the developers took this undertaking seriously and used the extra time to make this game amazing? Let’s find out …
Story: We’re Heading West!
Since the game came out three years after the movie, the story matches the movie almost perfectly, which it should. The story goes like this: Fievel and his family are immigrant mice living in New York City struggling to survive. One day when a group of cats attack the tiny mice community, they all are forced to escape to the sewers. Once in the sewers the main villain, Cat R. Waul, uses a mouse puppet to convince all the city mice to get on a train and go West to cowboy country where cats, mice and dogs get along and everybody has a great life. However, the truth is Cat R. Waul just wants the mice to go West so he and his fellow cats can eat them. The mice set off by train to the West. Along the way Fievel is knocked off the train, but eventually reunites with his family in their new western town. Fievel then fights the evil Cat R. Waul and saves his family and the day.
The gameplay is a simple platformer style with most of the levels in the game being scenes straight out of the movie. You control Fievel who uses a gun that shoots corks to kill enemies like snakes, cats, bats and bosses. The cork gun is the main and only weapon for the entire game. For the first couple levels there is a power-up that changes the gun from a cork gun to a water gun to put out platforms on fire so that you can continue through the level. The other power-ups throughout the game are a star, or sheriff’s badge, that gives you temporary invincibility and a large heart which gives you an extra heart of health like in Super Mario Bros 2.
The controls are very simple. B is jump and Y is shoot. That’s all. The jumping range is very high and almost “floaty” to the point where you think you can make any jump, which you usually can. The only problem with the jumping mechanic is making the short jumps takes some precision because of how high and far you can jump. Just like jumping, the shooting takes some precision too. Every enemy has to be hit in the head to kill them and shots are limited to one at a time. Timing the jump with the shot takes some getting used to.
Music and Graphics:
The music is always upbeat and nice but it never quite fits the level. Music you might expect on a happy forest level in another game is the music during the city on fire level in this game. In the sewer with water rushing all around you, one gets a 1950s mystery theme. Then there’s a song during the mine cart level that I would swear was lifted straight out of Donkey Kong Country 3. The one really fitting piece of music is the boss theme. It is scary and unsettling. However by the 3rd boss you’re tired of the same track for each boss.
The graphics in this game are average. The sprites are nicely sized. They use mode 7 graphics to introduce each new “world” of the game which is a nice and underused touch for SNES games. However, nothing really wows you, it’s all just plain. All the colors fit nicely and everything has a hint of detail but there’s no real animation to anything. There’s also nothing going on in the backgrounds, nothing to really look at or explore in the levels.
The platforming is never unfair or even difficult for that matter. The game allows you to travel through these levels however you want for the most part. The levels can go up pretty high or you can just stick to the ground for a different variation of enemies and surroundings. These basic platform levels make up most of the game; however, there are two other types of levels. One in which you are in the sewer and you can ride in a tuna can through the level or you can hop out and swim instead. The other type of level about halfway through the game in which you drive a mine cart. The controls work pretty well, unlike Donkey Kong Country, where you’re just along for the ride; you can accelerate or decelerate the cart for jumps or to avoid enemies. It’s a fun mechanic so you can do the level at any pace you want. Sadly though the level forces you to crash the cart a couple times per level and walk to a new one.
You can beat this game in under an hour. There are only five parts with three levels a piece. So there are only about 15 levels in total.
The best part of this game is how faithful it is to the movie. The bad part is that the game is based off an okay movie and is really short. However if you are just looking for something to beat in an hour then this is it. Getting the hang of the controls is weird at first, but by the 2nd part you should have the hang of how accurate you need to be. The graphics and music are pretty well done. Overall it’s an average platformer and that’s why I give it three stars.
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