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RELEASE DATE (NA): October 1992 GENRE: Action
// review by SoyBomb

Even the Sticky Bandits wouldn't steal this.

Having crowned myself the king of torture by already diving headfirst into the notoriously terrible NES version and the somehow worse Game Boy edition of Home Alone 2, it was time to put the beast that brought the origin of my disdain for anything T*HQ released to rest. All three of these versions were developed by Imagineering Inc., the vile dastards that brought us such other "classics" as all editions of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, all three of those hideous NES Simpsons games, and yes, even the Home Improvement game on SNES. How they managed to stay in business for over nine years is a complete bafflement. They must have worked for seriously cheap — and it shows. Let's take another look at Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

As soon as the title screen boots up, I could feel a dark moon rising. That music... did someone unzip their pants and fart into a piano? These notes are so random, it's as if the composer changed his mind every half-second or so. As always, we get a credit roll with more or less the same crew of hard-working citizens tapping away at their keyboards to ensure they get this product out before lunch break. This one was also dedicated in memory to a Mr. Tom Heidt, who had a hand in getting these out. Flash forward to our first cutscene, featuring the inimitable Tim Curry as the concierge of the Plaza Hotel, seen here resembling an impacted wisdom tooth in a suit while wearing an upside-down light bulb as a tie. He's advising all other hotels in the area to be on the lookout for Kevin McCallister, accusing him of using stolen credit cards to indulge in their expensive room service lasagna dishes. Moving ahead, we see Harry and Marv, otherwise known as the Sticky Bandits, otherwise known as piles of aging manure with cutouts of their faces plastered on top. Just look at those faces: were they taken in a sauna? Harry is on the phone, calling his old pal Lefty Looie (hopefully it's Louie Anderson — that would be cool) to bring together the old gang in hopes of bringing Kevin to justice. Likely with a touch of murder. Yeah, for a kids' game, murder fits right in.

And then we're shoved right into the Plaza Hotel where, without delay, strangulation is on the mind of a testy bellhop. I think that's Rob Schneider, trying to shake any loose change out of Macaulay Culkin's pockets to help fund his next movie, "Deuce Bigolo: Antarctican Gigolo". You have to get to the other end of the lobby, dodging anything and everything, from suitcases that move on their own to fat men in gray suits to elderly women whose hovering abilities are second to none. And in the SNES edition, they've added jumping mops! Hooray! Luckily, Kevin's packing his kneecaps! Using that one goofy slide technique that popped up a couple of times in the movie, he can defeat many minor enemies (although, unlike in other versions of this game, the flying grandma CANNOT be conquered this way). As well, he can find a few weapons of choice, such as pop guns and pearl necklaces, the latter being far more useful here as they can take out the men in suits with no delay.

Some enemies, like bellhops and grandmas, need a more unconventional approach to dealing with humanity. Once you actually get to the end of the lobby and hop on the elevator (whose button is now X instead of Up, and you now have to press it repeatedly while dodging flying suitcases, for reasons yet to be determined), you can go up to some of the higher floors to find, among other things, a special item that will let Kevin perform a crazy spin jump (complete with stars flying out his backside for comedic — and painful, probably — effect) that can take out most enemies. Just leap right into a porter and he will go flying off-screen. Unfortunately, so does the baggage he was carrying, making someone's vacation go a little more sour when they discover their underwear's gone permanently missing. With all this in your arsenal, you'd think Kevin would be set and the game would be great... but alas, nope.

Once you've made it through the hotel, including its kitchen where a chef attacks you with knives and slowly undresses as he takes damage — a feat potentially reserved solely for a future Guy Fieri holiday special , you're thrown into the arms of Harry and Marv, featuring perhaps the laziest rendering of the group in all three versions. Their heads have just been placed on piles of dirt and soot. And Harry doesn't even have his own face! Who IS that? Whose face did he just borrow? Did he steal a guy's face?

Kevin next takes to Central Park, where bats and rats run rampant and crooks hide in the bushes, waiting until you come close so they can get some batting practice...on your face! I'm not sure at what point New York gained a severe bat problem, but that time is apparently now. Once past this bastion of beatings, it's straight into a cave, where you have to face off against the Pigeon Lady in that epic battle that everyone remembers from the movie... riiiiiiii—iiiight? She sends a flurry of pigeons to drop twiglets on your head, but if you manage to avoid succumbing to death, she'll shake hands with you and agree to assist you later on. At this point, the movie's been completely avoided in favour of just making up canon as they go along.

THIS is why you don't separate from your family in an airport.

Your next stop is your uncle's abandoned house. This place must have been abandoned for quite some time because the wallpaper's peeling, the foundation's crumbling, and there is an infinite number of rats that can spawn in the basement. It's also the largest house I've seen in a video game: four floors and it's probably as long as a football field. Your goal here is to get all the keys, open all the doors, and make your escape. As opposed to the Game Boy version, which features a very similar style of house, inside each room is a trap you have to figure out how to set off to defeat a bandit in the "right way" and obtain the next key. This is perhaps the closest in spirit the game gets to that of the actual Home Alone 2 movie. My biggest complaint is that the house being too big makes for a buttload of unnecessary backtracking that can get confusing. Also, unlike the Game Boy version, EVERY floor can be fallen through without fear of death (and in fact, it's necessary to get the first key), but you wouldn't really know that unless you take a leap of faith.

The last scene is the chase to the Christmas tree, and boy, do flying garbage can lids want you dead. I'm glad I don't have a vendetta with the trash lid union. At the end of the long-winded dash down the street at 1:30 in the morning is the climb up the Christmas tree, where the Pigeon Lady awaits at the top to drop weird pellets on the Sticky Bandits while you call for her help and racingly dodge their grips. I don't recall her ever being up in that tree. I don't recall a chase UP the tree. I can barely remember that tree having any significance other than being a nice-looking, upstanding fir of the finest kind. What IS this game?

Cut to a scene with Kevin and his mom. Kevin looks like he's trying to inhale her soul.

The SNES version boasts the best controls of the three, and as far as difficulty goes, it's the most balanced. Stupid in concept, yes, but more balanced. Aside from the ugly, ugly, UGLY cutscenes, things don't look all that bad, even if it does feel more like an upscale of the NES game than anything else. It's funny watching Kevin's sprite as he runs, as only the legs move while the head, arms, and torso remain static. That's how people run, right? I wish I could be more positive about the soundtrack; what's the deal with just these weird, tinny, reverbed instruments that don't really go together? I think there was an orchestra that just received the sheet music for the very first time — and we're hearing the result. I will give them credit for one thing: when Kevin gets hurt, he makes a gong sound. That's just excellent sound design right there. 10/10. Show's over.

If I had to choose only one variant of the game out of the three, I'd pick the SNES one, but even then, I would rather not suggest any of them. It's a substandard platformer, and although it's short and completable in about a half-hour, it's just not much fun to play. There's a reason why we're not playing Imagineering games to this day, and you're looking at it. Kevin would throw this game in a fireplace and say, "Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal."

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