The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

a game by Seta

Platform: NESNES

Genre: Platformer

  • Manufacturer: Sega
  • Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an adequate, if somewhat uninspired, running and jumping game. It has good graphics and animation, but also a high frustration factor and little to distinguish it from a multitude of other games of this type.

The storyline behind this game is that Tom Sawyer is asleep in class and dreaming of adventure. His goal is to rescue his princess, er, girlfriend, Becky Thatcher, from the evil king, uh, wizard, uh, villain, Injun Joe. See what I mean about originality? At any rate, the object is to guide Tom through a variety of different scenes, overcoming the obstacles therein. As with just about every other game of this type, there is an "ultimate villain" at the end of each level that must be defeated to move on to the next level.

Tom is guided using the joystick and buttons. He can run forward and backward, and the background scrolls forward (but not back) as he advances. The "A" button makes Tom jump, while the "B" button allows him to use his weapons. He starts out with a pocket full of rocks in apparently unlimited supply. These have a fairly short throw range, but it can be increased by jumping while throwing (not an easy thing to master, mind you). If Tom collects a slingshot, he can shoot farther and faster, but there are actually places where the slingshot is a disadvantage because the enemies he faces are so low to the ground. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to get rid of the slingshot.

Tom can also collect hearts that effectively shield him from his enemies for a short time. This can be helpful because the screens of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are full of weird enemies. The game is broken up into distinct levels, with such titles as "Down the River," "In the Sky," "Through the Forest" and "In the Haunted House." The early levels feature knife-wielding pirates, rolling barrels, seagulls and lightning-fast octopi (I said they were weird). Soon these are replaced by the likes of frogs, eagles, black penguins, mutant moths, punk monkeys, skeletons and the like. The "ultimate enemy" at the end of each level looks pretty mean, but each has a weak spot that is hinted at in the instructions.

Each time you kill an enemy, that enemy is replaced by a gray block. If the block contains the letter "T", then you should collect it, because 20 Ts enable you to get an extra life. Sometimes, however, the block contains a skull that must be avoided because it deducts 10 Ts from your collection. Of course, each of the enemies has unique weapons, ranging from the pirates' thrown knives to the evil witch's red fireballs. The demon in the haunted house even throws little tiny demons at you!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was, for me, an exercise in frustration. Each time you get killed - an easy thing to do, believe me - you get sent way back to the beginning of the current level. There is no save or password feature; you must play this game from the very beginning every time and suffer going all the way back when you make a slip. You can continue from the beginning of the level where you last died during the current play session, but even this doesn't help much.

This isn't a bad game, but with the large number of similar games available for the NES, you will want to look at others before deciding to buy.

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