Wednesday, 12 January 2022

An American Tail - Won!

By Torch

So my previous play session lasted all of 30 minutes and got me through the first part of the game, which is based on the first movie. I’ll just spoil some of the fun right now, and let you know that this second part took me about twice as long to complete. But was it more enjoyable because of this? Let’s find out

Like the first part, the second starts with some PowerPoint exposition. (I’m not including all the slides. There were a fair few)
A new antagonist enters the stage, with a new pun for a name. Caterwaul…
Also, for whatever reason
Right after, I’m dropped onto the westbound train.
I wonder why Fievel is the only guy who has access to a color protecting laundry detergent

From here there only thing I can do is exit to the east, where I immediately run into trouble.
I take it back. Apparently, this guy knows his way around a laundromat too…
The game seems to have made a habit of putting me up against the main bad guys right off the cat. I mean rat… I mean bat! It seems they are hatching a plan to… eat mice… Clever… Despite having just been rambling to his compatriots about his big appetite, mr. Cat R Waul decides to make me play a minigame, to not blow his cover or whatever.

This one is actually significantly more challenging than the previous ones, at least for me.
Earless…? Is that a codename or something?
Basically you choose two pins/dots to connect together with a string/line, then your opponent does the same. If your move makes the last “wall” of a square, you capture that square and then get another turn. So what you want to do is NOT create the third wall of a potential square, since this lets the computer capture it on their next move. Which leads to situations like this:
I’ll turn this around, you just wait and see
Whenever I lose, they just ask if I want to try again. My main strategy is to just avoid giving the computer a chance to finish any squares, but eventually one of us has to, and then it’s a matter of who can string together the longest chain. After a fair amount of tries, I finally make it.
Yes! In your face! Or rather, in between your faces
After winning, they let me go, and of all the random things that could happen, I’m captured by a spider(!) and thrown off the train…
Oh right. Chula the spider, that we’ve been hearing so much about.
Fievel really struggles with the concept of staying aboard moving vehicles
… and end up in a desert.
Uh oh, I hope it’s not a maze
And yes, it IS a maze… of sorts… I wander around, trying to see if there’s actually some coherency or if it’s just a bunch of random screens, when suddenly a giant scorpion appears.
Wait, did I suddenly land in Quest for Glory 2?
I don’t have time to react, so it reaches me and…
Walk of shame is definitely the correct response to getting mauled by a scorpion
During the first half of the game, I was a bit conscious about saving, but since I never had to deal with any real consequences from the perceived dangers, I kind of forgot about it this time. So I have to restore back to the start of the chapter and do the whole puzzle game again.

When I land back in the desert, the first thing I do is save the game, then start wandering around some more. I find that if I immediately go west, I find something that looks like a sheriff’s star lying on the ground, which I pick up. The star, not the ground.

Other than that, despite trying to be systematic about it, I’m not able to determine if there’s any logic to the layout of the desert screens, at least not before I’m “captured” by the scorpion again. And again. Aaand again. Now and then a (seemingly) giant bird swoops across the sky, and suddenly it finds its way to the same screen as me.
Yeah, so this doesn’t look very promising
But instead of merely “capturing” me, the bird drops me in the middle of a nearby(?) western themed town, complete with buggy graphics.
The green bars give it that authentic western look
Seriously, I don’t know what’s going on in this screen, but it was like this every time I visited, so something must be corrupted somewhere. At least the parts where I need to click are visible, so it’s not a huge deal.

There are four exits, one of which leads back into the desert, where the future me (at this point) will suffer at least half a dozen more scorpion attacks before getting carried safely(ish) into town again.

Another exit leads to a saloon, where, in the short time Fievel’s been gone, instead of searching for him, his sister Tanya has realized her dream of becoming a singer ( it IS actually foreshadowed in the first intro slide ).
Do all these people live in this shabby little town?
After Tanya’s act is over, she disappears and I’m left looking for hotspots (exits). There’s only one (besides the one where I came in), and I have to pixel hunt for a bit to discover it, but it leads backstage, where Tanya is waiting.
I’m fine, thanks for asking
There are only a couple of dialogue options, but the obvious ones involve convincing her to leave, since the cats are planning to eat all the mice. As a thank you for the warning, she gives me a bottle of perfume that she got from her friend Sophia, who used to know Fievel’s friend, Tiger. In case you don’t know/remember/care, Tiger is the chubby cat that saved me in the previous chapter, when I was captured by Warren T. Rat/Cat and his gang. The intro shows him getting ditched by a female cat, which I presume was his girlfriend. I’m guessing that was Sophia.

After I receive the perfume from Tanya, if I talk to her again, it’s as if we never had the just finished conversation. These mice sure have a hard time remembering stuff.

I leave the saloon and try one of the other main street exits. It leads to a… I wanna say Disney-like… dog.
Oh hello there. I’m.. ah… just… looking for my contacts. Definitely not sleeping on the job.
What follows is better to show than tell, I think.

Oh, for dog’s sake… You’re not even trying to be clever
…and it goes on… too long. Basically, I just pick every dialogue option with ‘dog’ in it, and finally we bond, since he feels that I understand him. I ask him to help stop Cat R Waul’s gang, but he wants something to “put the spark back in his heart again”. I don’t see anywhere that explicitly states that he’s the sheriff of this town, but I only have some perfume and a sheriff’s star, so I try the star, and… great success!
Why is Fievel wearing a totally different outfit here?
Finally he says that we’ll need help, and asks me to find him a dog. Not sure if he means an actual other dog, or if he just has a thing where every 17th (or so) word he says must be ‘dog’. He also tells me to find some marbles(?) in the marble mine in the desert. I’ve been scouring the desert without finding any marble mines, but maybe I’ll have more luck next time.

I go back to town and try the last exit, which leads me to another staple of american wild west pop culture: a native american camp. And Tiger, for some reason. I guess he must’ve gotten a train ticket too.
I’m happy to see you to, buddy
Tiger is convinced the natives think he’s a god, so Fievel whips up this little gem of an argument to snap him out of it:
I have a feeling this dialogue isn’t from the movie…
(Un)fortunately it doesn’t work, but I get closer when I lie to him and tell him that his old girlfriend Sophia is in town. He still wants some proof, so I try offering him the perfume, and he comes running. When we get back to town, I head straight back to the sheriff dog, and introduce my cat friend as a potential dog partner ( don’t try to make sense of it ). Luckily Tiger has forgotten all about that ex-girlfriend of his, that I lied to him about.
Sure, I’ll use your slingshot. We’re roughly the same size, right? There’s no way this slingshot would be like… twice the size of me, right? Right?
But alas, I still don’t have any marbles ( which I now realize are meant to be used as ammunition for the slingshot ). And he has clearly lost his… So I head out into the desert again. And get nabbed by the scorpion. Aaand guess who forgot to save…

So restore back to when I first dropped (literally) into town. Thankfully repeating my steps is quite fast when I just skip all the dialogue. This time I save before going back to the desert. After a couple of scorpion related game-overs or involuntary bird flights into town again, I notice that I can go north from the starting desert screen after I leave town. This leads to an old mine.
Looks safe. And easy to climb
Yes, a very impressive bunch…
On the floor of the mine there’s a “bunch of marbles” that I can pick up. This is the only thing to do here, so I go back out, save and run around the desert for a bit. At this point I figure I could try to adjust the CPU clock cycles in Dosbox to see if I can react quickly enough to get away from the scorpion. And that actually works. When the beast enters the screen, I now have enough time to run away and not get “captured”. On the very next screen I get picked up by the bird. What’s in this arrangement for him, I wonder? Does it really want to eat me, but its claws are just too slippery?

Anyway, I arrive back in town, where Tiger is waiting. Could’ve really used your help out there, “buddy”. But hey! I scraped by on my own.

We go back to the sheriff, and hand over the marbles, and he decides it’s time to get ready to fight the cats. Which means that I have to practice with the slingshot. Which means minigame time. This one is a shooting gallery, which I guess is fitting for a western themed game.
Riiight there, that should do it
I do my best to hit the targets, and I manage to hit 6 birds, 11 targets and 3 tumbleweeds. I’ve no idea if that’s good or not, but it seems the dog’s happy, because he throws me right into some serious action in town. It’s showdown on main street! At noon! (Could be!)
You think you’re pretty tough, eh? Just wait til you get a load of my…er…marbles…
Various cats zip back and forth across the street while I try to hit them. At first I’m not sure if I’m hitting them at all, since they’re moving quite quickly, but I get my answer soon after.
Serves me right for bringing a slingshot to a catfight
Again I hadn’t saved since before the marble mine, so rinse, repeat. Only this time I further decrease the Dosbox CPU cycles, which makes everything easier.

During practice I hit 20 birds, 21 targets and 10 tumbleweeds. And I manage to clear out the cats pretty comfortably as well. Hooray, I saved the day!

But wait!

The cats had somehow put all the mice in a giant contraption that looks like half mousetrap, half amusement park ride. And I have to save them by…. Playing a minigame!
For your own safety, try to sit where the holes will end up when this thing closes.
If the cats mean to eat all the mice, it seems like it would be way more work to round them up and tie them together in this thing, rather than just killing them outright.

Anyway, this minigame is about pattern memorization. A club appears from one of the holes in the plate, then disappears, and I have to click the hole. Then the same thing happens, only the club disappears and reappears in a different hole. So I have to remember the holes and orders and repeat the pattern correctly. A bit like “Simon says”, I guess. But without the colors. I think the sequence increases up to maybe 8 or so, after which I’m rewarded with…

the exact same picture as in the intro, only with different text! Hooray!
And that’s it. Afterwards, it just goes to the menu. Oh well.
That’s all, folks
So, as I mentioned in the beginning of the post; Even with some more difficult minigames, a fair bit of dying and some backtracking, this whole play session only took me about an hour, or twice as long as the previous 30 minute one.

It’s not exactly long, though I guess one could squeeze some extra play time out of it by going back and replaying the minigames. Anyway, that’s all for now. Next time we’ll see if I can figure out a suitable PISSED rating for this game.


  1. The dialogue is... dogly... @_@

    >If the cats mean to eat all the mice, it seems like it would be
    >way more work to round them up and tie them together in this thing,
    >rather than just killing them outright.

    IIRC in the movie, the main villain cat tricked the mice to gather there for some ceremony and they were unaware it was a trap. A major plot point was that the cat convinced the mice he was on their side.

    1. Ok, that might make more sense. I don't think that particular plot point was made very clear in the game :)

  2. I guess for the outfit weirdness, they wanted to re-use the sprites for both parts of the game, so kept with the one based on Fievel's outfit in the first movie, rather than his cowboy outfit that he has in the second movie (which you can see in a couple of pictures, which must be taken from the movie).

    1. Yeah, I'm guessing they couldn't be bothered to make 2 sets of sprites :/

  3. There's a fantastic movie reviewer called The Unshaved Mouse who's reviewed both of these movies:

    Note that there's plenty of "meta" stuff in his reviews and call backs to earlier reviews and such. It's still hilarious, but (especially) in the first one, you might need to ignore the first few paragraphs.

  4. The dots and lines game is called Dots and Boxes, and has featured a lot in various board/minigame collections.

    Nice to see I'm not the only one dealing with glitchy backgrounds. I wonder if that's present in all the rips or just the one you used. This has a feeling of a lack of care to it, that even the developers wanted to be as done with this as quickly as possible.

    1. Thanks, I didn't really know what it was called.

      Not sure what was going on with that one screen, but it was the only one that was glitching. And yes, the words "lazy" and "cash grab" do come to mind...

  5. I thought you had ended up in the desert maze in KQ5.

    The dots and boxes was a favourite time waster in my school days, but I have no idea if this is true anywhere else.

    1. It felt more like QfG to me, due to the sudden appearance of charging monsters.

      The dots and boxes minigame was fairly entertaining, even though I failed to develop a consistent winning strategy. I can't recall having played it before.
      At least I didn't clear it on the first go, like several of the others.

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  8. Thanks for the playthrough, I remember seeing this game for sale way back in the early 90s and was always curious about it.

  9. Sequel for Flight of the Amazon Queen announced: