Sunday, 5 December 2021

Game 126: An American Tail - The Computer Adventures of Fievel / Fievel Goes West

By Torch

In 1986 Amblin Entertainment (Steven Spielberg’s movie studio) decided to challenge a certain other animation studio’s market dominance on animated anthropomorphic mice. Their champion was a movie about a jewish-russian mouse named Fievel Mousekewitz, who has to leave Russia with his family, to avoid persecution by anti-semittic cats. The Mousekewitzes decide to go to America after being told that there are no cats there. They manage to board a ship to New York (where else?), but before they arrive at their destination, there’s a storm, and Fievel gets washed overboard. Believing that he’s dead, the rest of his family continue on their journey. Fievel manages to hike a ride with a floating empty bottle and ends up in New York after all, where he sets out to reunite with his family.
Ah, the play on words (tail/tale)
The movie won several awards for its music, mainly for the song “Somewhere out there”, but was also nominated for some animation awards. It also outdid Disney’s The Great mouse detective (released 4 months earlier) at the box office.

In 1991 Amblin made a sequel, An American tail: Fievel goes west, in which the Mousekewitzes decide to travel west to seek better fortune (and fewer cats). While it was less well received by critics than the original, it still did pretty ok at the box office.
A game of two titles

I know I saw the original as a kid (though I don’t remember much of it), but I’m pretty sure I’ve never watched the sequel.

Well, in 1993 Capstone Software released the game I’m about to play. It was developed by Manley & Associates, inc., whom I’ve never heard of before. They were later acquired by Electronic Arts and renamed EA Seattle, but were closed down in 2002.

After spending a fair amount of time doing research, I’m still slightly uncertain about the correct title for it. Most sources seem to use the two subtitles The Computer Adventures of Fievel and Fievel Goes West interchangeably. Mobygames states that the game is based on both movies. To complicate matters, a SNES platform game was released in 1994, titled An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, which is totally unrelated to the 1993 one. We’ll of course be looking into the 1993 point and click adventure.

Ok, enough beating about the bush, let’s start the game up.

The intro is fairly short and simple, consisting of a couple of screenshots that detail the beginning of the story.
And they lived happily ever after. The end
But no! The party get spoiled by…. cat-Cossacks?!
Um… have they not heard about Broadway?
It’s only the Atlantic ocean. How big could it be?
Will this be the first adventure game to have an in-world explanation for how you can carry around impossibly large objects?
As with Rome and the roads, all oceanic currents lead to New York
And finally I’m given control over poor tired, wet Fievel. On first sight it looks like a fairly simple interface. There’s a smart pointer that defaults to a cheese(!), then changes shape whenever I hover over something I can interact with. For example, if I put the cursor over the guy in the red coat in the last picture, it changes to a speech bubble. Right click doesn’t seem to do anything. When I talk to “people” (mice or rats mostly, by the looks of it), I can choose between multiple dialogue options. So pretty much standard fare. There’s also a musical tune that seems to repeat over and over.

According to the manual I will be able to pick up stuff at some point, and apparently Fievel’s hat can be used as a hint system(?!) Guess I’ll have to test that out.

Also, I’m not sure if I should watch the movie(s) before I start playing for real, or if there’s a chance of spoiling anything regarding plot or puzzles. It would also be interesting to know if the graphics were made specifically for the game, or if they were allowed to utilize anything from the movies. Maybe we’ll find out!


  1. I wonder if the choice to do mice and cats was influenced at all by Maus.

  2. The artwork seems charming but the gameplay could go either way. A hint at a hint system is a good sign to me as this hints at designers trying not to confound you, so I will go higher with 45

  3. Curious, I wouldn't think to mention Spielberg when it came to the movie, but I guess Don Bluth is a bit of an esoteric name.

    Manley & Associates did the DOS ports of Cliff Johnson's games, when those dried up, did a couple of their own. They're all good games, just not really adventure games.

    As to the movie, I suspect its mostly just a straight adaptation but with a few nasty puzzles thrown in. If I had to guess, I'd say it takes still frames from the movie for its backgrounds, then adds stuff on top of it.


    1. I don't know how much direct (if any) involvement Spielberg had with the movies (he's listed as executive producer), but I figured most people would think of Amblin as "his" company.

  4. I'm pretty sure I've seen both movies, but can barely remember them now.

    I'll guess 42 for the score!

  5. I don't think this will be doing well.

  6. 36, although I'm probably betting a little high ..

  7. Although the graphics seems nice for the time the game was released, Capstone´s games i played were really awfull. I´m talking specifically about Wayne`s World and The Dark Half. I really tried to like those two, but the gameplay and execution was really really crappy. So, my guess for this one is 37

  8. Is 39 taken, if not it is now.