Not too long after the first movie, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York went into theaters in November 1992. Its numbers weren’t as strong (still good considering it made over 170 million) and it was widely panned. However, it’s still liked by many. The video games, on the other hand, get a really bad rep. This is especially true for some of the Nintendo versions. For the SNES rendition, releasing before the film hit theaters, it’s not the greatest game. That being said, it is far from putrid. Like the first game, it’s not as bad as people make it out to be.
The story of the game follows the film somewhat. Kevin McCallister is in a heap of trouble because of stolen credit cards and the Plaza Hotel concierge is after him. He also has Harry and Marv on the hunt for him with their gang because of the last time they faced the 10 year old. These Nintendo versions feel half baked because the stories try to combine the movie’s plot with stuff seen in the SNES and Game Boy versions of the first game. It was not thought up well.
Home Alone 2 has you back playing as Kevin. Like the first game, there are only four levels. It’s hard to describe what it is. This is more of a pure side scroller and it takes place in parts that were in the film, just with different ideas. You are mostly going left to right or right to left, trying to avoid or get past legions of enemies that are out to get you. Controlling the boy hero is virtually the same. Kevin can use weapons, jump, and switch weapons. New is the ability to slide, which is cool and feels necessary to have.
There are a number of new enemies to encounter beyond the Sticky Bandits and their gang. Based on the levels, it’s stuff that makes sense like the concierge and some of the hotel staff. Then there’s ones like rats and bats that make you question if they were trying to make enemies that would be scary to Kevin or if this was a different game before getting the license. Other weird ones include suitcases and mops. Once again, the kid is armed with things, but they have to be procured on-site.
The weaponry is far from creative, but useful. There are pearl necklaces, something actually used in the film. Also, there is a toy dart gun which is very effective and two weird fist guns. One is an AK-47 type and the other is a bazooka type. The former can take out an enemy in one to maybe three shots and the latter can take out someone in one to maybe two shots. Either way, you’re going to be needing that arsenal to get through a few areas to finish the levels.
The most impressive thing about Home Alone 2 is its graphics. It’s a step up over the first by a mile. This looks like an SNES game, even though it’s an early one. Kevin is represented very accurately and has really smooth animation movement. Even the concierge is modeled accurately. They got Harry down somewhat, but Marv looks like some other guy than Daniel Stern. The areas and backgrounds are nice and detailed. You can tell how much more confident Imagineering was with making games on SNES hardware. Digitized images are used on the characters in cutscenes and are a big improvement over the first game. Overall, they got it nailed down well.
While Home Alone was strong in its audio, Home Alone 2 feels like it regressed. The music is a huge letdown. There isn’t any Christmas music. Nothing from the film was used other than doing a remix snippet of the main theme on a 10 second loop. It felt like they stuck with only a couple instruments and that was it. They don’t sound bad, but there could have been better use of the audio chips. Sound effects are pretty basic. There isn’t much, but it comes off decent and not 8-bit. Overall, not too great.
The way the health system was in the first is implemented again in this game. Kevin sports more health and if he gets hit five times, he loses a life. However, there are instant lives lost from certain enemies and objects. Pizza slices are still his best friend and they narrowed it from eight to six to earn an extra life. There are also whole pizzas that are instant extra lives as well. Cookies are brought back to help gain any lost hit points, but it feels either random or it doesn’t work most of the time.
Home Alone 2 feels more like a video game considering some of the power ups. There is aftershave again to help him go fast and take out any enemies in the process. New are turtle doves and credit cards. Turtle doves are a jump power that can take out a number of foes. Get hit, however, and you’re back to a normal jump. Credit cards are like the aftershave in being invincible, but no speed boost. Finding these items along with ammo for the weapons is similar to the first game. Most of the time, they are hidden in certain objects, but other times they have them on screen. Grab whatever you can, because these enemies are no pushovers.
For the first game, its level designs were simple, but enough to present a challenge. In Home Alone 2, it’s very simplistic. A lot more simplistic. They consist of going through areas, beating a boss and making your way to the next level. Once you understand how it plays, it’s rather easy. As far as the film’s selling point regarding the traps, the uncle’s house in this game is very disappointing. Its got a few traps (though inaccurate if you’ve seen the movie) but the goal is finding keys and getting them from the Bandits. Outside of that, it plays decent.
However, it’s extremely short. Then again, most licensed games have that problem as well once you get familiar with them. Most licensed games during the 16-bit era can be done in less than an hour, typically 40 minutes. This one is about 20 minutes, but it could be a challenge to some people. My complaints are mostly nitpicks such as the music, story, and above mentioned length, but it’s still a decent game and plays well enough.
My preference is for the Sega Genesis version (though I would rate it with the same number as this one). But if you are looking for a version of Home Alone 2 on a Nintendo system, the SNES version is the one to get. Once again, not a terrible game by any means, but like the movies, the first one is the better one (though both movies are watchable and funny).
Three stars out of five.
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