film & game reviews, the retro way.
SNES, Amiga, Game Boy
Based on the live-action movie from 1993, which itself was an adaptation of the old cartoon series, Dennis The Menace lets you take control of the titular troublemaker as he wanders around grumpy neighbour Mr. Wilson's home and other locations causing all sorts of mayhem.
Incidentally, it looks like Hell has already broken loose wherever Dennis goes since the poor old kid is soon awkwardly manoeuvring through thousands of purple cats, bouncing tea cups, killer fish, giant frogs and mice. Now, I'm not sure what Mr. Wilson's been up to but it can't be good because his house is like the Halloween version of Pee-Wee's Playhouse. It's similar to the Home Alone games in that everything is out to kill you, it's a mystery where you're supposed to go and the controls don't exactly help you either.
There are way too many things on screen that can drain your energy or just flat-out kill ya. And they are ridiculously inconsistent: a cactus can't hurt you but a record player can?
And, since jumping is a pain as most platforms are tough to reach and you can't just bounce on enemies to get rid of them, this becomes really frustrating really fast. I can't stress enough just how confusing the layouts of these settings are. There's a time limit throughout and it's unclear what your goal is so the fact that the many sprites respawn instantly makes the game particularly challenging, and not in a good way. The music, however, is not too bad even if it does become tiresome eventually. But it's the sound effects that are really worth mentioning as they are one of the most annoying aspects of the game and will make you want to shut it off promptly.
Imagine a waterfall of cartoon "boings" and "whams" coming right for you and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
It's a shame that this game is almost reluctant for you to play it because it looks colorful enough. Developers Ocean Software did a decent job graphics-wise. One of which involves following Dennis' dog Ruff as you avoid various incoming obstacles, for example. This is also not a short game so some effort was definitely put into it but it's so irritating that it's very unlikely you'll have the patience to play through dozens of its levels. Most of which take place either in the woods or the park and, therefore, look basically the same.
The final boss is Christopher Lloyd's burglar character from the film, although he looks more like Freddy Krueger. So, slightly less creepy than in the movie, then.
While not the worst game out there, Dennis The Menace is a bit like The Wizard Of Oz, also for the SNES, in that it looks nice and it certainly had potential. Unfortunately, it is way too bloated, loud and messy to be genuinely fun playing. Sort of like the Dennis character himself, this game is one mean-spirited little brat.
On the plus side, Walter Matthau himself cameos, so there's always that.