We recently took a look at Home Alone for the Super Nintendo, which was less in the spirit of the film and was more or less a loot-your-own-house simulator, and while it wasn’t a classic by any stretch, it wasn’t all that bad. A few years after the first movie came out, a sequel was released, and while the sequels to movies aren’t usually as good as the original film, the opposite tends to be true in video games. So, could it be possible that today’s game, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York by THQ could actually be a hidden gem in the Super Nintendo lineup?
No. It’s not. Much like the movie, Home Alone 2 has Kevin McCallister on the run in New York City, picking up after Tim Curry figures out you’re borrowing your dad’s credit cards without his knowledge, leading to a chase through the Plaza Hotel, and eventually leading you to such locales as Central Park, your uncle’s townhouse during renovations, and finally culminating in a showdown with the freshly released Wet Bandits at the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Unlike the first game, this is more or less a traditional action game and less of a giant scavenger hunt, and the enemies here are not the minor nuisance they were the first time around.
And HOOO BOY are there a lot of enemies here. Although this is a Super Nintendo game, Home Alone 2 features some vintage NES Logic as anything and everything is out to get you. And I mean EVERYTHING: aside from the Wet Bandits and Tim Curry’s character, you’ll be under siege from maids that throw pillows, old ladies that leap around like they’re in zero gravity, thugs that jump out of the bushes to club you, rats, mops, pigeons, falling pieces of plaster, trash can lids, packs of dogs, falling pots and pans, vacuum cleaners, and rogue pieces of luggage. Even worse, a hefty chunk of the enemies, like the vacuum cleaners and most of the adults you run into, are capable of insta-killing you by grabbing and shaking you like they’re trying to get a pillow to slide into a pillowcase.
You do have a handful of weapons to fight back, of course, but unlike the first game’s selection of childhood toys that have been pressed into service as defensive weapons, here you’re given an increasingly comical selection of tools, like necklaces that shatter and trip enemies, a dart gun that stuns them, a rifle that shoots boxing gloves and can actually drop bigger enemies, and a bazooka that launches a giant boxing glove that travels quite a long distance and can plow through just about anything along the way. Once again, bottles of aftershave serve as the invincibility pickup, but while you do flicker while invincible, there’s no musical cues that let you know you’re about to run out of it, so oftentimes, you’ll prepare to jump through an enemy, lose your powers, and end up taking damage. If you pick up a pigeon icon, you’ll have the ability to do a tumbling jump that can knock out enemies, similar to the Screw Attack from the Metroid series, and lasts until the next time you take a hit. Also, just like the last game, you can pick up pizza slices that have been strewn about and eventually build up to extra lives, as well as the occasional whole pizza, and for some reason, cookies can be found in certain places, although they don’t do anything but give points.
Unfortunately, Home Alone 2 is not a terribly fun game to control. Once again, the A button serves as your jump button and B attacks with your weapons, a layout that never feels comfortable on Super Nintendo, and X and Y are relegated to occasionally performing actions like pushing elevator buttons or asking the Pigeon Lady to drop bird seed on Harry and Marv during the final showdown. L and R cycle through your weaponry, as does Select. You also have the ability to Pete Townsend slide along the ground, which is capable of defeating little pests like rats and luggage, but the problem is you have to have some forward momentum going before you can do it, so if you have to stop to wait for an enemy to make their attack so you can go through, and there’s a rat or a rogue suitcase heading your way, you’ll have to attempt to quickly run backwards and forwards again to gin up enough momentum to slide down.
That’s not to mention the occasional moment where the ground is either slippery or sticky and Kevin either inexplicably slides around like he’s running on ice or can’t…get…any…speed going forward, which is tons of fun when you’re trying to dodge pigeons trying to drop twigs on your head and none of your weapons can actually do anything to them. Or the jumping. You have to be effectively dead center on a platform to land on it, and while there aren’t any bottomless pits if you fall through them here, there are a few areas, like in Central Park where you attempt to jump from brick to brick to scale a wall that has a ton of goodies awaiting you at the top, where you’ll aggravate yourself far more than necessary trying to make it up there and end up having to start over because the game decided you weren’t landing on the right spot on the 15th jump you needed to make out of 16.
There are a few bright spots, though, that give you the impression that this game could have been a lot better. In the hotel stage, there’s a segment where you take the elevator between the different floors and rummage through unlocked rooms in search of weaponry, pizza slices, and other pickups for the road ahead, which turns out to be a pretty useful diversion. Later on, the third level, the townhouse, is actually pretty well-executed as well: you find a key in the basement, which opens another door in the house where you have to figure out a trap to stop the Wet Bandits from trying to loot the place. After you solve the puzzle, you get another key that opens another door somewhere else in the house with a different trap, and so on.
Now, granted, none of these puzzles are very elaborate, they’re mostly just “jump on their heads like a weird form of Whack-a-Mole” or “shoot this object so it falls on their heads”, but it’s the closest this game gets to the Home Alone ethos. Of course, there are plenty of gaps in the floor that require you to land on a plank of wood in the middle of to be able to make it across, and even worse, the way it’s laid out, it’s skewed at a different angle from the rest of the background, so trying to land on the one specific spot you need to when the perspective seems a little off is exactly as enjoyable as you’d expect, and you’ll be falling through the gaps and having to go back and go up the stairs again quite a few times.
The visuals here are improved a good bit from the first game, although you can still tell this game was made early in the Super NES era. Enemies look a lot less cartoonish (although most of the enemies are quite cartoonish by nature), and somewhat resemble normal, proportional human beings instead of caricatures. There are little cutscenes at times, and while they don’t look great, they’re at least detailed enough that Joe Pesci actually looks like Joe Pesci, for example, and Harry and Marv look recognizable as such if you run into them during stages. The animation, though, is still a little…wonky, for lack of a better term, and when you defeat an enemy, more often then not, they flicker and turn upside down when they fall off the screen, which kinda defeats the purpose of making them look a lot more realistic when you’re going to remove them in the most unrealistic way imaginable.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York actually seems like a bit of a step back in a lot of ways from its predecessor. The scavenger hunt style of the first game was an interesting spin on the side-scroller, whereas this is just a generic movie tie-in platformer. This game can be rather frustrating at times, between the precision it takes to make jumps at certain times and the simple fact that basically everything under the sun is out to get you. The graphics look a bit better here, but that comes across the strongest in still pictures, and not so much when it’s in motion. There’s only four levels, and realistically, only about one and a half of them are decent, and you can whip through this game quickly enough that it’d almost be hard for me to justify renting this game for a weekend way back when. Unless you REALLY want to complete the Home Alone Super Nintendo arc or have a weird fascinations with movie tie-in games in general, there is very little here to make me want to recommend it to anyone, and much like the Wet Bandits should’ve learned by now, you’re better off just staying away from Kevin McCallister.
Looks better than the original game, a couple levels are actually fairly creative, Joe Pesci looks like Joe Pesci.
Extremely short, chock full of NES Logic enemies, and some woefully bad play control rears its ugly head at times.