The Retro Critic


Following the sad passing of actor Bob Hoskins yesterday, I thought it would be cool to look at a game based on one of his movies.

I would have gone for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on the NES but that game’s a chore to play through and, sadly, there is no Super Mario Bros. The Movie: The Game that I know of.

If there is, I’m totally there, though!

Another film I loved growing up, which happened to star Bob Hoskins, was Hook and, of course, a few games were made based on Steven Spielberg’s schmaltzy but fun fantasy flick.

For our very own Nintendo Legend’s take on the NES game, check out his website, by the way.

The game opens with Tinkerbell (aka “Tink”) kindly blocking our view of the game (and the film’s) plot.

Tink Hook

Capta Hook…

I knew it!

The game (wisely) disposes of the whole London-based part of the film and picks up the story with you already in full Peter Pan gear, fighting pirates in Never Land.

irate hook

It’s clear from the get-go that the controls are going to be a pretty lazy affair: the jumping is sluggish beyond belief, the attacks are awkward and you never know whether touching something will hurt you or whether they’re even in the foreground for you to touch!

Also, the scale is all over the map. I mean, just look at the leaves:

Pan Leaf

Is this Never Land or Lilliput?!

So far, though, the game sort of resembles parts of the movie, with the whole basketball scene being somewhat represented:

Darts Basketball Hook

And Rufio himself popping up as a boss:

Pan vs Rufio

The funny thing about this particular fight is that all you need to do is undress Rufio to win.

Rufio Loses Jacket

Now THAT’s what I call a boss fight!

You’ve got various mini levels to discover all over Never Land and, happily, most of them have hilarious names.

Pirate Forest

Ghost Mine Hook

What on Earth (or Never Land) is a “Ghost Mine”?

Well, it turns out that a Ghost Mine is basically a mine peppered with zombies:

Pan Ghost

Zombies but, more importantly, dragons and cake.

You heard me.

Cake Dragon Hook

Oh, and giant mushrooms.

Gotta have those.

It’s at this point that I realised that those responsible for the game probably didn’t watch the movie all the way through.

I’m just throwing it out there but…

Ice Level Hook

…I think I’m onto something here.

Luckily, I love misguided, random NES games so I’m in great hands right now.

Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

On top of having locations you’d never expect in a Peter Pan or a Hook game, the game offers some strange new characters.

Like this guy who just floats around blocking your way:

Fakir Pan Hook

Who knew that the naked dude from Life Of Brian starred in an NES game?

Life Of Brian

Now it’s no secret that I’m not exactly a big fan of water levels in retro games. That said, when they’re as silly as they are in this particular game: I have to make an exception.

Firstly, let’s talk about how awful the animation is on Peter Pan when he’s swimming.

Pearl Pan Hook

The man looks like a turtle!

He moves like a dancing frog and can hold his breath underwater for an unlimited amount of time, unlike those poor failed floaters outlined in our own Woodyman’s brilliant recent Top 10.

You can grab onto anvils and sink to the bottom of the sea:

Sinking Pan

Though it’s never explained what was holding those anvils up in the first place. No sign of those lovely mermaids from the movie, by the way.

The game loses one star right there.

Now, if you thought that Peter Pan swimming was pretty funny…

Pan Jellyfish

Wait till you see him fly!

Pan Flying

Oh my…

Of all the angles they could have chosen to show me, THIS is the one they went with?

I feel like I shouldn’t be showing you guys Peter Pan flying like this.

Black Boxed Flying

There, that’s better.

To be fair, it’s nice of the game to give us some variety, even if it is just an unpleasantly angled flying level because the side-scrolling bits aren’t exactly mind-blowing.

Finally, you face off against the mighty Hook: your arch-enemy, the monster who stole your children from you, the pirate king!

Time to pick up a weapon:

Pan Collects Hook

(preferably not a clock)

And fight the fight of your life!

Pan vs Hook

Yeah the final boss is pretty lame.

If you just literally stand to the right of the screen and hit Hook when he gets close, he’s dead meat in two minutes.

Knife Face Hook

All in all, while this isn’t the worst game in the NES library, Hook is still pretty dire.

It strays waaaay too far from the movie it’s based on (dragons?! come on!), the graphics are completely uneven ranging from relatively decent to just terrible, the controls are really flawed and the game itself is glitchy and often lazy. It’s luckily playable, however, so at least it’s not a nightmarish challenge you’re forced to put yourself through.

Try the SNES version of Hook instead, it at least looks pretty good.

Not a great game then but at least it’s amusingly random, so there’s always that.

Hook Plank

lol Don’t waste your time, Hook.

Pan’s basically a jellyfish.