#126 - Fun House NES Game
Unworkable controls, bland music and no relevance to the show itself? Sounds like Hi-Tech Expressions to me!


NES Game (Hi-Tech Expressions, released in 1990)
Text by: Robert Seidelman

Fun House is either a show that you watched and enjoyed or you dismissed it as a Double Dare/Finders Keepers clone.  Either way, it helped launch the career of JD Roth and solidified Scott Stone as a viable producer of game shows.  As customary with kids game shows of its time, it got a slew of purchasable merchandise for the fans.  The biggest sellers were either the board games or video tapes.

We've already talked about the tapes and they were utter garbage.  I mean, nobody wanted to be given exercise tips or to see JD Roth rip off his pants and start jazzercising like he was Richard Simmons on a Geico commercial.  Kids wanted to watch these tapes to see the best of what the show had to offer and some behind the scenes stuff, like what Double Dare did with their tapes.  But for those that actively wanted to play the show itself by themselves, Video games were the way to go.  The Double Dare game stayed very faithful to the show, despite some of the physical challenges and the Obstacle Course being a pain to do.  However, the Fun House game makes them look like Mega Man 2.  Whereas Fun House is the game show video game equivilent of Cheetahmen 2.

The intro screen pops up and the theme blares.  However, this isn't the theme to fun house at all.  It doesn't even sound like the Fox Fun House theme.  I'll say this is the nicest of three opens.  I mean, you can tell effort got placed into it, unlike Win, Lose or Draw's with their static title screen and Remote Control's moving MTV logo.  However that's where the pleasantries end and all the problems begin.

You actually play the game and it's a gigantic mess.  Gone are the stunts, the slime, the Grand Prix Race, the tags and even the fun house that you know and love.  Instead, you play a rollerblade-wearing member of the Red Team and you have to go around various obstacles and throw schmutzballs at targets.  Now while that might not sound as bad as you'd think, the controls just kill this game.  Instead of up being up and down being down, up moves you forward, down reverses you and instead of left moving left and right moving right, Right now turns your player clockwise and left counterclockwise.  It's a pain in the ass to figure out, and when you do you still forget and it drives you bonkers.

Also adding to the painful frustration is the hazards that slow you down.  The ice and the conveyor belts are ok, but what also frustrates is the turrets that shoot schumtzballs back at you and take 5 seconds off of your time.  It wouldn't be so bad, but since you have no recovery time, you can be pelted till kingdom come and lose all of your time and have to start the level over again.  Other obstacles do similar things, like spikes, but those allow you to recover, the turrets don't. 

To pad the game out, there are a staggering amount of levels to the game.  Most game show games play like the show or close to that and take about 15-20 minutes, kind of like the show itself.  Fun House has 72 levels.  6 levels to each of the 12 stages.  Meaning if you're very good, it'll take you at least an hour to beat this game.  But when you have ass-backward controls, obstacles and hazards that are programmed so badly, you will fail and fail often so it'll take you two-three hours and throw down your controller in a rage so bad it'll make you want to watch Unanimous so you can at least see something with JD Roth that's not as bad as this game is.

Oh, I should point out that JD Roth is there.  He appears in this digitized form to introduce each of the levels, with some form of encouragement.  He looks like he did in the show, but more could have been done with him.  Hell, there could have been a digitized voice of him yelling "LET'S GET MESSY!" or something like that.  But since this is Hi-Tech Expressions we're talking about they take all the good about the show, and chuck it in the gigantic toilets and the remnants fed to the monsters in the Zippity-Zoo-Dah.

So after 72 levels of torture and broken controls, you are treated to your character running through the fun house and getting to the top.  If you want to nitpick even more, it's all based on the FOX Fun House, which is the lamest of them all.  The actual ending has just three screens.  The first one has two nondescript contestants high-fiving on rollerblades with "All Right, Dude!" with fireworks or whatever the hell it is.  Then you finally see the cheerleaders who look like they've been deformed with a small text box saying that "Congratulations! You're a Fun House superstar!"  I know the NES wasn't known for spectacular endings early on, but this is 1990, you had the bar raised by Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man 2 and 3, Super Mario Bros 2, and others.  The ending here looks absolutely pathetic and poorly done.

This has to be the worst game show game out there. Not just because the game itself had nothing to do with the show, but the broken controls, the annoying music, the sheer impossibility of it all, no passwords, and everything else.  The good things about this game is minute at best.  I would think gamers would enjoy playing a game where they ran through the house and grabbed tags and possibly won the Power Prize to Hawaii or Florida, or Colorado to go skiing and stuff like that.  But what we got should have been flushed down the gigantic toilets and flowing through the sewer underneath the Hard Hat Hallway.

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