Released in 1994 by Hudson Soft for the SNES, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is based off the animated movie of the same name that was released in 1991. It’s an odd one to see a movie tie-in game be released so long after the movie it is based on.
A 2D side-scrolling platformer, the game’s story follows the plot of the movie. Fievel and his family are heading West for a supposed nirvana. Where it is said dogs, cat and mice all live together in harmony. Of course, it is a lie told by Cat R. Waul who is sending them to their deaths. However, before they can make it West, Fievel is knocked off the train and forced to make his own way to the town.
Players take on the role of Fievel as he makes his way through levels based from the film. Beginning on the streets and rooftops of New York and ending in the Western town as the young mouse takes on Cat. R. Waul. There’s only about 15 levels and they’re all pretty short but there is variety in both the gameplay and visuals of each.
A SNES favourite, the platforming gameplay is simple to pick up and play. Fievel can jump, duck and shoot a gun that fires corks to take out enemies and bosses. This gun can be upgraded with power-ups found throughout the levels giving it more range and damage.
In a nice touch, some levels can be approached in different ways. Maybe you stick to the heights dealing with bats and birds or maybe you stick to the ground dealing with snakes and cats. It’s up to you and the controls make moving up and down around a level very simple.
It’s not a difficult game even if Fievel can only take three hits before he dies. Signified by 3 hearts in the top corner. Powerups dotted around levels make things even easier too as picking up a Sheriff badge makes the mouse temporarily invincible. While picking up large hearts gives Fievel an extra hit/heart.
The most difficult section and one to cause the most frustration comes at the halfway point where you have to control a mine cart, jumping to avoid enemies. While you can control the speed yourself, going fast makes seeing what is coming pretty difficult. It’s a nice change of pace from the standard platforming though.
An American Tail: Fievel goes West looks great. Really bright and sharp colours that fit the tone of the movie. However, while the sprites are pretty well detailed, backgrounds are bland and uninteresting. The same goes for the music, it’s upbeat and cheery but doesn’t fit the levels. The mine-cart level also gets dangerously close to ripping off Donkey Kong Country 3.
Still, this is not a bad game at all. It’s fun and simple to play. It’s not particularly challenging especially when compared to most other SNES platformers. Still, you get that feeling of satisfaction when you topple a boss.
The biggest praise that can be lumped on the game is that it stays incredibly faithful to the movie while still being a good game.
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West