By: Jonny Casino
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love old gangster films and cartoons. Add to that the one cartoon lady that excited men and boys the most, and you have yourself a hit film. This is the movie that taught me the lines, “shave and a haircut, two bits”, and that you should never play pattycake with another man’s woman. So, when I saw the NES game for a good price, I knew I needed it on my shelf.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an action-adventure game developed by Rare and published by LJN in 1989. I bought this knowing nothing about it, and I didn’t care if it was good or not. I just wanted it to sit next to my Dick Tracy game, on my shelf.
Without the manual for the game, I was completely lost. I figured out how to walk and punch. That’s it. I went to the internet and there the manual was. It, like many NES game manuals, was full of instructions, story (like we don’t know the story), and even hints. The manual specifically recommended that the player draw out a map of the town as they play! I’ll explain this as I go on.
The basic plot of the game is that you are playing as Detective Eddie Valiant, and your good friend Roger Rabbit is by your side. The two of you must locate pieces of some dead guy’s will so that the villains cannot steal the city. If this sounds easy and straight forward, you are delusional. To do this, you must search the building and woods around the city.
The buildings in the city will have one to five rooms in them. Your job is to go into each and press up, on the D-pad, and A against any object that could have something hidden in it. I know this sounds exciting. Things you might find are fishbones, bombs, crowbars, rattles, bricks, a wallet, and other items that you will have no idea how to use. Part of the game is figuring out how to use the random items you find. All of these, in theory, will help you complete the game.
Getting around the town can consist of walking, in which you must dodge cars or die, or you can call Benny The Cab. The cars are not the only dangers in the wild. There are vultures that drop bombs or try to steal Roger. There are cats and rats that can somehow take you out? That really seems ridiculous to me.
The biggest (and closest to the movie) threat that can take you out is the Toon Patrol. A couple of these henchmen will randomly pop up on the overview screen and chase after you. If you are caught by them, Roger will tell the first half of a joke and you will need to choose the punchline, from a list. Choose correctly, and the henchmen will laugh and drop Roger. Choose incorrectly, and you lose Roger and one life.
With all of the above knowledge, you set out to conquer Who Framed Roger Rabbit. You leave the office and start searching the town. You guide Detective Valiant from building to building, hoping to find something you need. If a building is locked, you come back later. This is where drawing a map helps. As I continued to move from building to building, I got bored. I found stuff that I didn’t know how to use, and nothing told me. The one time this was amusing was when I placed a baby rattle down to get past a snake.
I only saw the fighting when the Toon Patrol caught Roger. I picked a punchline and he got away. Otherwise, I just kept dying from falling potted plants, cars, and a stupid buzzard. Maybe if I had made it further, I would have seen more fighting. I did punch random people, but it had no effect on the game.
The question that needs to be answered is if Who Framed Roger Rabbit still holds up. This is tough to answer because I don’t think this was ever a good game. All in all, I was just bored. I might go back to this because I saved my password, but my plan for this game is to just let it sit on my shelf to be admired.
Screenshots via MobyGames