Home Improvement


Review by Nathan Dunsmore



Graphics: 4

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 5


The 90’s were certainly a grand decade for prime time sitcoms. Northern Exposure, Wings, Frasier, Boy Meets World, etc. With the wild popularity these programs once carried (some still do) it’s sometimes a wonder as to why a company didn’t make a stand and release a video game under these licenses during their hay-day. Then we soon remind ourselves of all the horrible movie tie-in games that have appeared over the years and become thankful that developers haven’t gotten greedy by cashing in on these sitcoms.

homeimprovement1snes.jpg (56684 bytes)Unlike all the average Simpson’s titles that appeared during the 16-bit era, Home Improvement has practically become forgotten right along with its developer, Absolute. Reasons behind this are practically unknown. After ending its run back in 1999, Home Improvement still can be seen everyday on channels such as WGN or TBS and the SNES has not quite become a memory for most gamers.

Home Improvement is no "Fool Time," and that unfortunately seals its fate.

It would certainly seem Sonic was used as an inspiration here. As oppose to rings however, Tim’s health is reflected upon how many nuts and bolts that have been collected. These nuts and bolts are of course lost when collision with an enemy creature occurs and like Sonic, impossible to recollect every single one again. Ah well, it is not as if Absolute was ever an innovative developer to begin with.

Right from the get-go gamers treated to a nicely presented Tool Time opening cut-scene which looks amazingly dead on with the real Tool Time studio on the show. Al and Tim’s three sons (Brad, Randy, and Mark) are all present (and pint size) as Tim is about to unveil a new line of Binford power tools under his name when they suddenly turn up missing. Now it’s up to the Tool Man and his mighty arsenal of tools to secure the missing power tools through four uninspiring studio settings so he can continue on with Tool Time! Grab your utility belts ladies and gentlemen, a refreshing comedy is about to turn into tiresome tool hunting.

Now aside from these few Tool Time cut scenes, Home Improvement looks completely outdated by SNES standards, especially when compared to Donkey Kong Country, which was released around the same time. As mentioned earlier, the studio sets are uninteresting and lack any variety and creativity to make the hunt worth experiencing. Tim himself looks fairly small on screen, which is believable as he’s exploring large stage sets. Tim’s movements are also surprisingly fluid and life like.

homeimprovement2snes.jpg (58135 bytes)It’s all about Tool Time in the sound department. Absolute has done a fairly decent job with translating the rockin’ Home Improvement/Tool Time themes to the SNES’s hardware. Shamefully these jingles do not make up for the rest of the edgeless music in the game. Each of the four studio sets contain four sublevels and one boss. Absolute took the lazy way out by slapping on one song for each studio, so be sure to have the mute button or CD Player handy because unless you know the exact location of the tools, you’ll be stuck listening to the same flat tune for awhile.

In most cases all these setbacks could be forgiven with enjoyable gameplay, but there’s no such luck for the Tool Man. Tim has a number of tools at his disposal but it will take a lot more than tool power to make it through each round. The creature enemy A.I is incredibly intelligent, even the tiny ants will hunt you down relentlessly if you simply jump past them. Every other creature enemy is just as nettlesome as they take countless hits before going down, even when the more powerful tools have been acquired. Fuse that nuisance with an unnecessary time limit and we have a game that only the most devoted of gamers will attempt to complete, regardless of the responsive controls. For those who ever manage to accomplish this feat should never look down upon their gaming skills again.

Poor Tool Man, his one chance to shine as a video game star and Absolute blew it for him. Home Improvement isn’t a horrible game by any stretch, but it feels so unlike the television series that spawned it. Instead of a game featuring gimmicky level designs with a humor driven story line, we have boring gameplay set in a dull platform world rigged with tricky obstacles and unfair death penalties. Unless you’re a collector or prefer your games fractious, there are way too many other lost gems out there waiting to gain some recognition. Everyone else should go treat themselves to the DVD sets instead.


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Last updated: Monday, February 06, 2006 11:23 PM