The Addams Family wasn't exactly a highly demanded franchise during th 1980s. Barry Sonnenfeld's 1991 film would revive the property for a new generation of fans, but when Sunsoft's Richard Robbins and Michael Mendheim were hard at work on Uncle Fester's Quest in the late 1980s, they had their work cut out for them. Not only did they have to develop the game itself, but they had to convince Sunsoft to buy the rights to what was then a moribund license. Kid Fenris caught up with Robbins and Mendheim to get to the bottom of Fester's Quest once and for all starting with that essential question: why?
Fester's Quest has a strange premise for a licensed game. How did Sunsoft decide to combine The Addams Family and an alien invasion? And why make Uncle Fester the hero?
Robbins: I had a dream, literally, for a game called "Uncle Fester's Playhouse." Pee Wee’s Playhouse was airing then. We came up with the alien idea as a quest, to save the family.
The Addams Family seems to have been a fairly quiet property in the late 1980s. Why did Sunsoft option it for a game? Did they get it as a package deal with Platoon?
Robbins: I was a huge Addams Family fan. I called Charles Addams’ widow Lady Colyton literally at a chateau in France and started a dialog. It took many, many expensive long-distance calls and a sort of romancing to convince this regal lady to let us do a game. Lady Colyton kept talking about a movie deal, which I thought was a bunch of baloney at the time. The Japan folks at Sunsoft were extremely skeptical and gave me a real hard time. They really questioned who would care about this really old weird TV show.
I was a fan of the game as a kid even though it was brutally difficult (the soundtrack is awesome though). Nintendo Power's maps would only take me so far once the enemy swarms became overwhelming. The interview goes on to include apologies for not including a password or save function of any sort; apparently it was excluded due to a design oversight. The next time you play Fester's Quest, die near the end of the game, and end up kicked back to the start when you choose to continue, you know who to thank/blame.