Thursday, 23 December 2021

An American Tail - Get Shorty

By Torch

At this point I’ve elected not to watch the movie(s) before playing the game. Though it would probably give me a bunch of context, it might also give away plot points or possibly puzzles. Also, I’d like to see if the game is able to stand on its own feet with regards to storytelling, or if it will just assume that I already know what’s going on.

But let’s take it from the start. As you may recall from the intro post, I’m playing poor little mouse Fievel Mousekewitz, who just migrated from his home in Russia to New York, and got separated from his family along the way.

We start off at the dock in New York, where the only thing I can interact with is a somewhat suspicious looking rat, Fievel himself and a couple of exits. One thing of note: I can’t move Fievel around on a screen. He just stands firmly in one spot until I click an exit, after which he does a short walking animation.
Hey! Matching outfits!

Anyway, the obvious thing to do here would be to talk to the rat guy…. So I head for the exit instead. Yeah, that’s right… Don’t try telling ME what to do! On the next screen over, there’s another rat guy trying to get my attention. He looks kind of similar to the first one. What’s going on here?
Did you just change your coat and run over here?
I decide to go along and click on him to talk to him. As you can see from the screenshot, the cursor changes to a speech bubble.
I feel that his name’s supposed to be a play on something, but I’m not sure what. 5 CAPs for the best suggestion!
Sound advice
Seems legit
Ok, I agree to let him take me to my family. He seems to think they’ve fled into the sewers. At least that’s where he drops me off:
Is that a broccoli? Why is there broccoli lying on the ground in a sewer? And more importantly, why would anyone pick a broccoli up from the ground in a sewer?
In the sewer I meet the not so friendly Moe.
Um… this is a sewer. I don’t think sweeping’s gonna cut it
This looks like a sticky situation. How am I ever going to get out of… oh, he fell asleep..
Ok yeah, I DID pick up the broccoli. It IS an adventure game, dangit!
I head for the exit and I’m suddenly back on the streets again. I find my way back to the docks and find that both the rat guys are still there. If I talk to William again, it’s as if we’ve never seen each other before. The dialogue options and responses are the same as before. I check out the other one, Warren T. Rat. If William, who’s clearly a bad buy, warns me about Warren, then maybe Warren is a good guy, right?
Soo.. “Warranty Rat”…? I don’t get it…
Nope. Not Right.
At this point I’m not sure if Warren and William are the same guy or just acting together. Anyway, I go back to Warren (who’s suddenly never seen me before) and explore other dialogue options, and suddenly I realize that he’s given me some money.

By clicking on Fievel himself, I pull up the inventory, and I can see that he’s carrying some coins
And a broccoli from the sewer floor… Yummy
On the other screen there was a guy with a sign that says “Play me”. I’ve gotten played a couple of times myself already, so why not try to turn the tables?

The guy offers a minigame that costs the exact amount of money I got from Warren to play. It’s a type of memory game that has to be solved in 15 turns.
Cutting it close…
It’s not too difficult, so I pull it off in exactly 15 moves on the first try. For my efforts, I receive a deck of cards. Maybe I’ll be able to scam somebody myself.

After playing, I go back to Warren to see if I can get more money from him, in case I would have had to retry the minigame. He still suffers from short term memory and has no recollection of ever meeting me, so I get some new coins. Works for me.

There are still some areas I haven’t been to, so I wander around a little. There don’t seem to be a lot of screens around, but I meet another mouse/rat(?) who tells me to talk to someone named Tony about my family. A couple of exits later I find a group of mice.. or.. rats?..… let’s just call them people.
They sort of look like young mice, but much bigger than Fievel.
I talk to them and ask about this Tony guy, but it looks like I need to play a new minigame to get anywhere.
Do I have a choice?
It’s the traditional con man’s game of “shells” (where you guess under which shell/cup/bowl a ball is hidden). It’s not very hard. I get it on the first try, and I only have to guess once.
Please let it be Tony
It IS Tony, and he’s definitely a mouse
I tell him I’m looking for my family, and he instantly says he thinks he knows where they are. Now where have I heard that before..? Well, he looks less sketchy than the others, and he DOES look like a mouse instead of a rat. He wants to exchange something, “since we’re friends now”. I figure they like games, so I try to give him my deck of cards, and he gives me some dice in return. He then tells me to meet him at some rally near a park.

When we’re done talking, he leaves the screen, after which the other mice no longer have any recollection of ever having talked to me. Are they mice or goldfish? Sheesh… Talk about short term memory.. Anyway, I find a new exit and discover a new location, with a locked gate.
That keyhole is practically screaming for a key
The east exit from here leads me to what looks like an orphanage or something. Everybody here seems to be sleeping though, so there’s nobody to talk to or interact with in any way.
I go back out again and discover yet another location where I haven’t been before. There’s a mouse here, but he ignores me.
Yay, another sewer

It sure looks like a drainhole, which means sewers again, but I can’t NOT check it out. ‘Cause you can’t spell “adventure game” without adventure.
Suspense building…
… building….
I knew it! they DO have cats in America!
I run into a group of cats, including Warren, who, upon closer inspection, DOES look like he could be a cat in disguise. They capture me and put me in a cage. Then Warren leaves for some unknown reason, to be back later for questioning. One of the cats comes up to talk, and looks kind of goofy-looking, which in cartoons is usually a sign that he’s actually secretly nice and not too bright.
Boy, I bet it’s gonna be tough to get out of THIS situation
Actually super easy, barely an inconvenience
Yeah, so I give the goofy cat the broccoli I found on the ground in the sewer, and he lets me out. Before I leave I notice a key lying on a stool, so I swipe it. I have a hunch about where it might fit.
Ehm… jackpot…?
Not sure what I’d need an old rats’ skull for, but whatever. The gate surprisingly doesn’t lead anywhere, so I explore all available paths again, and end up at what I guess must be the rally Tony was talking about. At this point I’m starting to wonder about relative sizes of the characters in this game…
I’ve heard that everything is bigger in America, but I didn’t know that included the mice.
Anyway, from here I find a path to a sort of backstage area, where I meet Tony.
It’s nice to have someone to look up to
More giant mice. I suspect these screens are actually stills from the movie, and they just didn’t do any work with scales. Anyway, I speak to Tony, who tells me Gussie (whoever that is) is trying to figure out what to do with the cats. Heand introduces me to her.
“Ah, ve have vays of making you tock”... No…? still not?
I have two dialogue options, one of which is insulting the woman’s accent, and the other is to claim to have a solution to the cat problem. Fake it ‘till you make it, I guess. Fievel automatically recounts a story his father used to tell him, about the “giant Mouse of Minsk”, which is apparently something they can build. But to do so, they’ll need three (seemingly random) items.
Apparently, this is a world in which there exists only one of each of these items
Since I’ve been a good adventurer and picked up everything that wasn’t bolted down (ie. everything that wasn’t part of the background), I’m already in possession of the mentioned objects, so I head straight to what I thought was an orphanage, but is actually the warehouse mentioned. Once there, I meet my father (and presumably the rest of my family, though they’re not shown).
I would have expected a slightly more surprised response after crossing the Atlantic in a bottle.
They’ve started building the giant mouse already, even though I was the one who suggested it, and I have the last 3 (or only) items they need for it... I guess we’ll just have to pretend more time has passed between the rally and the warehouse. I hand over the items and I’m presented with a third minigame. This time it’s about rearranging the pieces of a puzzle.
Whatever could it be?
The final result
After I finish the puzzle, I get a short slideshow sequence.
Ok, so rat head in the front, maybe the key to start the thing up, but where do the dice go..?
Er.. whatnow?
So it basically looks like I’ve finished the first part of the game, which corresponds with the first movie, and I’m now heading into the part that deals with the second one. Which would be fine, except for the fact that playing through part one took me just 30 minutes(!)

Do not adjust your set! I solemnly swear that I did not use any kind of walkthrough, and I didn’t purposely try to rush anything. I DID get through all the minigames on the first try, but it didn’t look like it would take a lot of time or effort to redo them. Granted, I didn’t exhaust all dialogue options in every situation, but rather tried to pick the ones that looked like they would bring about some progress. I may also have been a bit lucky with the order in which I visited some locations, but pretty much all areas seem to be available from the start, so I’m not sure I could’ve played it very differently. If the second part is the same length, then we’re not looking at a marathon here, but I guess we’ll find out after my next post.

By the way, my experience with the game story so far is that it feels like I’m expected to have watched the movie, to make full sense of the plot and the characters. We’ll see if that changes in part two. Until then.


  1. I expected the proper method to defeat CATS would be to take off every 'ZIG', for great justice... but I guess the giant mouse of Misk will also do.

    The varyingly subtle or blatant adaptational narrative incoherencies reminded me of the Harry Potter video games; in the fist one for example the main villain isn't ever mentioned until after the final battle.

    1. Indeed. First, you get all the exposition from the intro Powerpoint, then suddenly all of this stuff happens with little explanation. We'll see if it gets better in part 2.

  2. Perhaps they are using the first film as kind of a prologue before a longer adaptation of the second film? but also perhaps this is more of a short game for kids? I guess we'll find out!

    At least now you can watch the first movie, right? I seem to remember enjoying them at the time, but now that I think about it I can barely remember anything about the second one, except for there being some of the same cast, but now with cowboy hats on.

    1. I saw the first movie as a kid at some point, but I didn't remember much of it before playing. Seeing the "Great Mouse of Minsk" triggered some memories, though. Seeing a huge exploding mouse must've made an impact :)

    2. The Great Mouse of Minsk was nightmare fuel for a generation of kids, no wonder it made an impact! Good movie, albeit significantly grimmer than most children's fare?

  3. Yeah, apparently its supposed to be a pun on warranty. And William B. Prat (Bilby Prat? Bill be Prat? I dunno) is apparently an original character. Don't quote me, I just looked around a bit on the internet.
    This seems really bad, but at least its bad in a not difficult way. Manley & Associates used to do some pretty good games, but I suspect that since Capstone had poor Q&A departments and the swift amount of time they expected games to be made in, they had no choice but to make this game.

    1. I suspect William is just some added mechanism to ensure players go through the sewers.

      But yeah, as you said, so far it's not very difficult at all. I imagine the game is made for kids who've watched the movie(s). We'll see if the theory holds up through part 2.

  4. Prat is also a lesser known derogatory term in some parts of the English speaking world, if I am not mistaken it's a combination of Pretentious Twat which seems to fit the feel of the word. I seem to remember this from reading but it could also be that it is more of a local thing and just a coincidence that it is used here.

    1. Maybe they just wanted something like "rat" without giving him the exact same last "name" as Warren

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.