Back in 1990 there was a little movie called Home Alone, which if memory serves me right, was the big holiday film of that year. It catapulted to the top of the box office and took with it a young Macaulay Culkin who was hailed as the next Gary Coleman in terms of cuteness and popularity as opposed to the hell raising hellion he would later become. Of course, with any big movie that comes out just in time for the holiday season, a game is guaranteed to accompany it. Enter Home Alone which is quite possibly the third or fourth worst movie to game adaptation ever.
For those of you who lack Christmas spirit or lack a penchant for cute little children, let me explain the premise of the movie and game for you. A boy named Kevin is forgotten by his parents in the chaos of waking up late and a rush to the airport for their holiday trip to France, thus making him HOME ALONE. While heís HOME ALONE, Kevin finds out that his neighborhood is being cased by a couple of burglars who like to leave peoplesí water running after they burgle their possessions. Of course, they come across Kevin whose initial attempts to scare away the burglars only make them angry and the fact that heís HOME ALONE only prods them to want to rob his house even more. The movie climaxes with Kevin setting home spun booby traps and watching the hilarity ensue as the burglars are taken by a kid who is HOME ALONE. This is where the game comes in. Since the rest of the movie really nothing offers anything worthy for a game, itís only fitting that the game be based off of the last 20-30 minutes of the movieís one hour and forty-five minute length. My favorite part is when the bearded guy sees the huge tarantula crawling across his face and he belts out this classic high pitched scream. It makes me laugh every time! Thereís also that one part when thereís this scary old guy and Kevin sees him in the church and he had this hot granddaughter...and yes, I was about that age at the time so donít think Iím some dirty old man.
The game places you in Kevinís shoes as the burglars are storming his house. Your goal is to lay down traps from items you find around the house and stave off the burglars for twenty minutes. Once those twenty minutes are up, the game is over. Are you wondering why I provided you a movie synopsis with this review? The answer is because thereís really nothing to this game thatís why.
In order to keep the burglars at bay, youíll have to cleverly (or most likely just depend on luck) navigate Kevin through the three stories of his house placing traps behind him. There is a certain strategy to placing the traps since the burglars move a lot faster than you do. Traps will only work once, so once they walk over them they wonít fall for it again until you pick it up and drop it inches away from where it was. Items are represented by icons depicting paint cans, tacks, Christmas balls, as well as the aforementioned tarantula. It doesnít matter what you place behind you since the effect is the same for every trap you set, the burglars just fall down and kick for a little bit. If youíre looking for hilarious outcomes for each of the items, you should just watch the movie instead. Youíre limited to carrying five items at a time, so itís important to place your traps and keep moving since the burglars will gradually become more and more aggressive as time runs out.
If things get hairy, you can make an elaborate escape by climbing the rain gutter on the left side of the house or go across a rope to your tree house on the right side. This usually works in thwarting the thieves for the first eight minutes of the game, but theyíll eventually catch on.
Despite having a twenty minute time limit, there is no onscreen timer. You can view how much time you have left by hitting start and going to the gameís submenu. In addition to the time, youíll also get a map of the house as well as blinking markers showing where you have traps laid.
While the concept of surviving may seem easy on paper, but the game is actually nigh impossible. Youíll have the bandits giving constant chase for the last ten minutes of the game which means youíll have to double up on the traps you lay for them. The controls only contribute to the difficulty to the point where simple stairs become a horrible obstacle to overcome not to mention a delay in reaction between hitting a button and what happens on screen. The last element that assures a last nail in your coffin is the fact that you can only use items a few times before their icons disappear and youíll have to eventually visit the stockpile in your basement which is guarded by two, count Ďem, two staircases for you to have to crawl up. While your speed is more than halved by going up stairs, they fail to slow the hooligans down, thus making stairs spell instant death for Kevin.
The visuals of the house are detailed, though the gaudy colors of the walls and item icons blend together and make the task of finding items trial and error. There are also only three characters in the game and are at least recognizable. You can tell Joe Pesci from Daniel Stern at the very least. The basement is also dark which makes a stunning contrast to the brightness of the upstairs.
Aside from the theme song that plays in one continuous loop, the game is pretty much void of anything worth mentioning here. Youíll get some neat little banging noises when the rapscallions hit traps and well, thatís about it.
The lack of variety coupled with the general mindlessness of this game hardly makes it worth playing. What else can you expect from a game thatís released alongside a holiday movie anyways? Hopefully this game tanked harder than Macaulayís career that holiday season and people ended up buying MC Hammer parachute pants instead. This game isnít even worth the time to emulate, at least Total Recall had people punching through fences to warrant some sort of curiosity. What else is there to say other than donít get caught HOME ALONE with this game. Punny.
- Brad Hicks (Dr. Swank), SwankWorld Media