An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

You could play this game and never know that the title character is a fob mouse from the mean streets of New York.
You could play this game and never know that the title character is a fob mouse from the mean streets of New York.

Don Bluth is an important figure in most any 80’s kid’s childhood. He is the aging and kind of weird uncle who, though he sees you only once or twice a year, pulls you aside and informs you calmly and with sobriety that some day you are going to die. He is responsible for some of the best and most heartbreaking animated movies of the decade, including The Secret of Nimh, The Land Before Time, All Dogs Go to Heaven, and, of course, An American Tail. Now if you had watched even one of these films as a child I don’t think I need to tell you that they are basically movies that, if their teachings are followed, lead to a sad and damaged life from an early age. The Land Before Time is basically Paradise Lost for the toddler set. An American Tail, in essence, is a movie about how the American Dream is kind of BS and only marginally better than having your house burnt down by Bolsheviks.

Fievel Goes West is not about anything. It’s the equivalent of taking all of the characters from The Fountainhead and giving them funny hats. It takes the soulrending power of Bluth’s work and reduces it to a grim parody. Sadder, possibly, than the original work.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, however, is actually a pretty good platformer. You mainly run around shooting at cats (which must be hit in the head, not unlike zombies) and solving jumping puzzles for fear of falling to a grim and gruesome death. I’m assuming that regular wild west structures are veritable skyscrapers for mice and that is the reason for the multitude of pits in this game. There are some mild puzzle elements (shoot flaming rocks with water so that they are no longer on fire) and the collecting silliness is kept to a bare minimum, with a few power-ups and dollars scattered about but not thrown around willy nilly like most platformers.

It’s mechanically sound, and as a franchise title based on a cash-in based on one of the more inappropriately bleak stories told to children, it is too far removed from anything significant to break my heart.

If you like lukewarm platforming and shooting anthropomorphic cats in the face with corks, this game is for you.

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