Bits from my personal collection – Home Alone, a Christmas tradition

Every family has its own set of Christmas traditions, while most are generations old, some are newcomers. John Hughes’ Home Alone when released in 1990 would go on to become a returning Christmas happening in my childhood home. Amazingly, now 30 years later the tradition is still alive and well, now a Christmas tradition in my own family. Both my 6 and 8-year-old sons love it, not only for the comedic situations but the mere fact that Kevin is home alone and can do whatever he wants seems highly intriguing to them – I’m sure my daughter when she’s old enough will enjoy it as well,

When John Hughes‘ movie Home Alone hit movie theaters across the US in November of 1990 the relatively low-budget comedy movie became the biggest pre-holiday opening and the highest-grossing movie of the year. It remained number one at the box office in the United States for 12 consecutive weeks, the most for any movie in the 1990s. With a total gross of $476.7 million worldwide, it would hold the record for the highest-grossing live-action comedy for the next 20 years. The success of the movie soon spawned numerous video and computer game adaptations, just like nearly any successful movie in the late ’80s and early ’90s did. Interestingly enough multiple developers each took their own swing at it, some with more success than others, common for all was that they at best were mediocre.
Bethesda Softworks, which years later would become famous for its Elder Scrolls series, developed the Nintendo version. Manley & Associates, Inc. developed the IBM/PC and Commodore Amiga versions, the only two home computer adaptions, both of which were published by Capstone Software, a subsidiary of IntraCorp, in 1991.

Capstone had earlier published a few movie adaptations with Miami Vice and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure from 1989 and The Taking of Beverly Hills from 1991, all quite poor adaptions.
The home computer version of Home Alone would like its console counterparts, have Kevin protect himself and his home from the intruding Wet Bandits. At the beginning of the game, you were given 5 minutes to set up various traps around the house before Harry and Marv would enter at each end and start chasing you. Each successful trap would deal 5 damage, when the burglars have been dealt 50 damage points each the game was won. If you’re caught by either of the two the game was over.

Home Alone for the IBM/PC, developed by Manley & Associates and published by Capstone Entertainment in 1991

The game was a classical platform game and utilized digitized images and sounds from the movie. Both the 16 color EGA, 32 color Amiga, and 256 color VGA version looked quite good and the digitized images were really neat in 1991. The gameplay was a bit sluggish but each room was recognizable from the movie and the game could get you adrenalin pumping not only when setting up traps with time slowly running out but also later when having to avoid Harry and Marv while chasing you throughout the house.

VGA screenshots from Home Alone.
The digitized pictures from the movie were really cool back in the day and the rest of the graphics were very recognizable.
At the top of the screen were portraits of Harry and Marv, here you would enjoy short animations whenever they fell victim to your various traps

When the movie sequel, Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York, premiered in November of 1992 it initially outsold the original but sales would eventually subside and the final box office gross in North America would reach $100 million less than its predecessor. While reviews were mostly average everybody loved Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, and the suspicious concierge played by Tim Curry. The movie’s Christmas setting, moral messages, and hilarious butchery of Harry and Marv were very much in the spirit of the original.
Home Alone 2 also saw adaptions for video consoles and home computers. The IBM version (The only computer adaption to my knowledge), released in 1992, was a very simple arcade game with harry and Marv chasing you down on the streets of New York, around the Plaza Hotel, and into your uncle’s townhouse. Frankly, the only thing to do was to run, pick up items, and throw them at your pursuers, it was repetitive and quite boring.

Home Alone 2 for the IBM/PC, was like its predecessor developed by Manley & Associates and published by Capstone Entertainment in 1992.
To my knowledge, the IBM/PC version was the only release for the home computer market

The game had three difficulty levels and 14 quite short levels. You would win if you managed to reach your mom by the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center.
The game was, like the first, developed by Manley & Associates and published by Capstone Software.
While the game was marketed, like the first one, with slapstick comedy animation and fun for the whole family, there was absolutely nothing funny about it. When released it was awarded the worst sequel of 1992 and later named the worst movie-to-game adaption by Electronic Gaming Monthly.

VGA screenshots from Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York.
The graphic was very similar to the first game but the gameplay was dull and unimaginative


Manley & Associates would continue to develop games for the video and computer game market and later become EA Seattle when bought by Electronic Arts in 1996.

Capstone Software would become notorious for its poor movie tie-ins. In the mid-’90s the company would release a handful of games using the Wolfenstein 3D engine and later the Build engine. In 1996 IntraCorp went bankrupt and shut down all of its operations, including Capstone Software.

Merry Christmas everyone and a truly happy New Year
– thanks for visiting

Sources: Wikipedia

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