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CONSOLE: Famicom DEVELOPER: Mars Corp. PUBLISHER: Towachiki
RELEASE DATE (JP): April 7, 1989 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Both Garfield and myself would nap through this.

Like a large percentage of games based on other forms of media, "Garfield: A Week of Garfield" (also known as "Garfield no isshukan" in Japan) ended up being little more than a stark comparison to its original source material. While typical Garfield comic strips and television specials were particularly entertaining (although NOT the recent computer-generated feature film adaptations, because they both failed to deliver the classic Garfield charm), this game is nothing more than pure drudgery at its finest. You play the role of Garfield, and according to the title screen (which offers only a slight glimpse into the basic storyline of the game), your canine punching bag Odie has run off to do something dangerous (presumably; the game isn't even too precise about that), and your goal in the game is to find Odie before the end of the week. That's a pretty pathetic task, and one that I doubt is even worth pursuing; Odie is probably just napping behind the sofa or something.

However, there should be more on your mind than mere dog-searching. For reasons unknown, the Arbuckle homestead has been overrun by a variety of neighbourhood miscreants, including mice, spiders, frogs, and small bugs (not to mention wandering baseballs in the backyard). Jon must be a particularly poor housekeeper. But what do you expect? He spends all of his time working twenty or so jobs so that he can afford to feed his bottomless cat. In order to defeat all the creatures and critters, you have a couple of options on how to do so. First and foremost is by kicking them, but that method almost always fails and you end up just taking damage, often resulting in some of the most uninspiring one-hit deaths ever. I had no idea that frogs and arachnids about a fifth of the size of Garfield could kill him. How horrific. The alternative method is to throw projectiles. In order to select these weapons, you need to press the Select button; a menu at the top will indicate what you are choosing. It's hard to tell exactly what will happen from each possibility. There's a paw (which probably means using your foot as a weapon), a bone (perhaps the remains of Garfield's breakfast), a puffy jelly donut, and what appears to be a smiling box of baking soda. Oh, those inventive Japanese developers. At the beginning of the game, I could only select the paw and the donut; with the donut selected, a strange projectile was thrown that split into several other projectiles when it hit the bottom of the screen. I really have no idea what's going on, but I don't care for it one bit.

Another interesting aspect is just how to pick up items such as health uppers (such as coffee cup icons, as Garfield is a closet caffeine addict), additional ammunition for your supply, or the key to the door at the end of the level (obviously a key icon). They are never just sitting there. They are always hiding invisibly in the background; when Garfield jumps in their location, only THEN do they appear. Then Garfield has to collect them on his own accord. That's quite annoying, especially when you need health. You never know where extra health items will pop up. It's just as bad when you are standing right in front of the door to continue to the next part of the level (or day, depending on whether or not you really care about this game). One other thing I noticed was just how long the house is. Why does Jon have such a lengthy house, other than to hide excessive amounts of invisible edibles in? He has far too much furniture for a bachelor, especially one whose food bill likely totals more than the national deficit. It seems to never end.

The graphics in this game are downright heinous at times. All of the background graphics are flat and simplistic, with very little attention paid to detail. I realize that this was developed back in the relatively earlier days of the NES' lifespan, but since so many developers were getting more out of the system's miniscule graphics processing unit (the unique Picture Processing Unit, for those who get a kick out of 80s technology) at the time, this cannot be excused. Garfield's sprite looks really mashed up. Although his two-foot walking sprites are decent, I guess he hasn't spent much time on all fours in a long time. I also can't explain why he opens his eyes wide, hunches over, and grins to the camera whenever he jumps in the air. That's not what anybody does. And finally, why does he smiles so brightly and raise his arms when he looks upwards? He looks just like Rocky Balboa after he climbed all those steps in Rocky III. In fact, here's what Garfield would look like if he had been cast instead of Sylvester Stallone:

MAGICALLY TRANSFORMS INTO !

Yeah, that's downright unimpressive. The music is also highly repetitive and never seemed to end. Granted, it was very difficult to stay alive long enough to see if there was any more music in the game (one death and the game is over -- what kind of horsepuckey is this for a video game?), but still, I would have enjoyed it if the music changed once I went outside. Sound effects were minimal; in fact, they were pretty much restricted to whenever I jumped. I must say, that's pretty pathetic, but it certainly matches the tone of this game: amateurish at best, but terrible in reality.

If this is a week of Garfield, I want a vacation. Don't try to import this, even if it's a rarity. It's rare for a reason. Even T*HQ couldn't screw it up this badly. Okay, maybe not...


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