Movie based games are terrible. Yes, it’s a blanket statement, and there are plenty of examples to the contrary, but let’s be real. Compared to the gems that you’ve found, how many times have you been lured into renting a game by title alone only to get kicked in your brain-testicles (for women…brain period, I guess?)? I OWNED ‘Dick Tracy’, ‘Jaws’, and ‘Top Gun’ back in the day. That disappointment was REAL (though not nearly as bad as the actual ‘Dick Tracy’ movie). I can only imagine how shitty is was for kids who grew up with ‘Charlie’s Angels’, ‘Catwoman’ or the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ games. Most of us only got games two, maybe three times a year. That’s a 33%-50% fail rate. For reference, imagine how full an ER would be if vibrators had that high of a fail rate. For those of you wondering why I chose that analogy, ask your friend who works in an ER how many times they had to remove something used as a marital aid. Believe me, they have stories.
Before we get to the game, I have to defend the movie. ‘Hook’ gets a mixed reception. Most reviews I read are either “meh” or “OHMYGODHOWCANTHESEMOTHERFUCKERSRUINMYCHILDHOODILLKILLTHEMALLWITHMYUNGODLYINTERNETWRATH!!!!!!!!”, which I don’t see as fair. I’ve always seen the film as being a fun time. Is it something to be revered throughout time and space like ‘Citizen Kane’ or ‘Seven Samurai’? No. Hell, I don’t even think it’s on the level of ‘Robocop’ (though if Smee melted and exploded, I’d reconsider this stance). I’ve always seen it as a good time with creative themes, fun characters, and an imaginative story. Yet it currently sits at 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. For some perspective, ‘A Serbian Film’ got 46% and somebody fucks a baby in THAT movie. Granted ‘Hook’ has 6.7 on IMDB whereas ‘A Serbian Film’ has a 5.3, but still, the gap between them should be A LOT larger.
Now that we know a little about how I feel about the movie (which could be it’s own article), how did I like the game?
Here’s what I remember:
Maybe I should talk more about the movie since I remember exactly dick about the game. I can’t remember the levels, the music, I can’t even remember if you play as Peter. So why am I playing this game if I can’t remember shit about it? It’s because I have strong feelings about it and I don’t know why.
My cousin gave this game to me and my brother completely out of the blue. We were just having dinner at our aunt’s house when he came over with it and asked if we wanted it. Have you ever said no to a free game when you were 8 year old? If you did, I guarantee it was because your parents gave you shit. As it turns out, we got it because he didn’t like it. Again, I can’t remember any specifics, all that comes to me is that I played it and enjoyed it. I didn’t understand what was so bad about it.
Then came that one part…
There’s an auto scrolling level, I think in involves plants, that had this ONE jump that I couldn’t make. I died over and over. Every so often, over the course of a few years, I’d pick it up and try again. Same thing. Over time, this became my only memory of the game.
How does it hold up?
I’m now fairly certain that we were given this game so that my cousin could rid himself of some ancient curse. As with all such artifacts, it won’t crush, it won’t burn, and it always comes back. Giving us the game must have been a last resort. One last shot to pass on what could not be defeated with the hope that maybe a younger generation would be stronger. What have I unlocked by replaying ‘Hook’? The reason for my memories being lost must have been less to do with time and more to do with something that happened…something evil…
But enough of that shit. This game sucks.
Unlike ‘Batman’, nothing came flooding back when I started playing. I remembered nothing. Not the levels, not the bosses, none of the frustrating moments, nothing. This kind of fresh start with an old game is usually a dream. I’ve read several Reddit threads about this very idea. People longingly wish they could re-experience ‘Chrono Trigger’, ‘Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem’, or ‘Super Metroid’, but all lament because they can’t have the wonder of the first time all over again. I empathize because there are many games I’d love to experience for the first time again. The suspense, the surprise, the rush of emotions your favorite characters overcome their trials, it’s magical. But did I get to re-experience a gem like ‘Metal Gear Solid’ or ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’? Nope. I got fucking ‘Hook’.
You play as Peter who apparently has spinal damage as he can only shuffle forward at the slowest pace imaginable. You can gain a bit of additional speed if you jump before returning to your walk cycle, but all enemies are faster than you, so you’ll spend the entire game jumping to get through each stage quickly. Each stage is timed, yet also mercifully short, making the timer more of a warning that you shouldn’t be walking through the stage like a well designed game.
Along the way you’ll fight pirates, pirates with shields, pirates on barrels, and a hitbox that extends beyond your body. You’ll spend countless hours wondering how you can exploit the fact that you can hit enemies above you without your sword touching them right before you hit a wall without touching it and get killed by an enemy before it reaches you. With your trusty sword and stiff animations that keep cycling even after you started taking damage, Peter will stumble through muddy looking backgrounds in order to get his kids back.
I got all the way to the final stage when I got fed up and stopped. I resorted to emulation in order to use save states so I could take a few breathers. You get unlimited continues which will start you at the beginning of the current stage, but I needed to step away from the game for entire DAYS, not just a few minutes. I knew I was done for good when I found myself fully clothed in the shower, drinking a bottle of whiskey, and contemplating what the hell I was doing with my life. It must have been a young man’s determination that led me to play ‘Hook’ so often back in the day because I sure as shit can’t think of another reason.
Oh, and that scrolling stage that I remember never getting past? Got through it on the first try. I have no idea why I found it so hard. It’s just one shitty mystery after another…