If I was a person with any shame, I might not share the following with you. Back in 1995, I decided that I absolutely, positively had to have a SEGA Genesis. What, you may ask, led a die-hard Nintendo fan like me to make this decision? Was it the four excellent Sonic the Hedgehog games that had come out in years prior? Was it the new hotness that was Vectorman, or the exclusive Konami releases in such longstanding Nintendo-exclusive series such as Castlevania and Contra?
Nope, it was…
#10: Garfield: Caught in the Act
Even at his lowest, I’ve been a fan of Garfield for most of the flabby tabby’s career. I still am to this day, though I’m admittedly a bit more mellow about it now than I was two decades ago, when Garfield and Friends was still a Saturday morning cartoon highlight (albeit one that was sadly wrapping up). So devoted was I to Garfield that I desperately wanted him to join all my other favorite characters of the time in a video game (I even drew some of my own concepts — maybe I’ll share sometime if there’s interest), and when was announced by SEGA, of all companies? Well, that settled that.
Incidentally, while I was hoping to score a SEGA Genesis Nomad — a portable and a home console all in one — the enormous price tag relative to a Genesis console warned me away from the purchase, and I ended up getting a Model 2 Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and a six-button pad for a much better price — leaving me enough money to grab Garfield: Caught in the Act during the same visit to Toys R Us.
As it happens, Garfield: Caught in the Act is actually a great Halloween-ish title, especially for a younger crowd. Growing up, Garfield had one of the iconic Halloween specials that aired every year on CBS in prime time, right alongside It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure is one of the Halloween shows that actually scared me as a kid towards the end; if you haven’t seen it, you may not want to read further if you’d rather avoid being spoiled, but definitely find it and check it out.
Anyway, the video game is based on the premise of Garfield being pulled into his television by Glitch, a frightful creature created from spare parts leftover from the cat’s hasty repair job on the broken electronic. There, he takes on different personas (read: hats and weapons) themed around whatever movie or TV show he’s currently in. One just so happens to be “Revenge of Orangebeard,” which effectively adapts elements from Garfield’s Halloween Adventure into a whole level:
While Garfield isn’t in his full Orangebeard regalia, he does have his hat and sword. What’s more, he starts off on a small boat not unlike the one he and Odie ride out to the mysterious house in during the special. While some elements are new, others such as the haunted ships and head-tossing ghost pirate skeletons look like they came right out of the show, were digitized, and even given a nice bit of shading for good measure. It’s an awesome callback for anyone who remembers watching the special and hoping that Garfield and Odie are able to escape their poltergeist pirate pursuers.
Beyond the references, there are all sorts of other delightfully creepy touches, from the haunting music to the piles of skulls and bones Garfield has to cross throughout, as well as the claw-like stalactites that reach down from the darkened cave ceilings and giant ghost pirate as the level’s boss. The “ARRs” from the skeleton pirates are a bit repetitious, but otherwise a nice touch.
The rest of the level, and the game, has some neat stuff that works in a Halloween context, particularly with Garfield constantly taking on new costumes. The opening level, in fact, is “Count Slobula’s Castle,” where Garfield must make his way through a haunted graveyard and slay Count Slobula himself, who happens to bear a striking resemblance to Odie. “Catsablanca” has a black and white movie style that Garfield’s orange hue pops out against, while “Cave Cat 3,000,000 BC” is a nice throwback to another Garfield special, Garfield: His 9 Lives.” “The Curse Of Cleofatra” is the final Genesis level, while the Game Gear, PC, and SEGA Channel versions all have some unique levels of their own, such as “Alien Landscape.”
For a quick Halloween fix, particularly one that’s kid-friendly, it’s hard to go wrong here. While Garfield: Caught in the Act isn’t an outstanding game, it is a decent, fun romp that isn’t too hard and features some rather nice graphics, animation, and music throughout, and it’s a perfect follow-up to the Halloween special!
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.