If you’ve never seen or read a Garfield comic then you’ve been living under a rock for the past forty years. Garfield is the king of Sunday comics and has been running consistently since 1978. It seems sometime in the early 80’s somebody reached out to Jim Davis or his company to make a game based on Garfield and Friends. Here’s where the problems begin, or actually the one problem, the game was copyrighted 1984, and as we all know Atari wasn’t doing too well in 1984, so this game along with a large amount of other licensed games were scrapped. Of all the licensed prototypes I’ve played I think Garfield is the one that is most deserving of completion. Due to licensing this is highly unlikely to happen but one can remain hopeful, who knows maybe they’ll be up for it?
The game has an excellent opening, a large pixelart drawing of Garfield himself arms and legs crossed looking like a suave bastard. The overall graphics are excellent, the sprites used for Garfield, Odie, and Nermal are large, detailed, and full of character. The environments are also large and detailed, and feature such locations as the Fence, the House, and the land of Odie. I can’t help but notice an odd similarity to Taz/Asterix/Obelix, they all open with a rendering of the main character and they all have a strange gradient-ed triangle at the bottom of the screen, I’m pretty sure there is some recycled code in this particular prototype. Also, I can finally stop complaining about a lack of starfields because Garfield has one and it’s used perfectly. Overall the graphics are detailed and advanced, usually this has a detrimental effect on the rest of the game, but since this is a prototype we have no clue what the final product was going to be, but if this game follows the same patterns as the rest of them then the sounds are usually the final thing to be finished.
There are very few sounds and certainly nothing to dedicate an entire paragraph to, there are just a handful of beeps and nothing else.
Sadly I don’t think the gameplay coding was quite complete when this game was scrapped, it’s simple and extremely easy to exploit. The main goal of the game is to traverse the fence and rooftops to rescue Nermal who is hanging from a ledge/rooftop. While you are making this perilous journey you will be assaulted by hamburgers, potted plants, and the devil himself, Odie. Each screen will present you with a different obstacle, there is a pattern to all of it and it is as follows: burger, plant, Odie, burger, plant, Nermal, land of Odie burger, plant, land of Odie plant, and repeat. This set of screens is the entire game, and it will play over and over until the end of time. Since there are screens where the obstacles are nothing but burgers, and burgers give you 50 points each, it is quite possible to simply stay on that screen for several hours and when you get around 500,000 points you can make your way to Nermal and collect him to instantly double your score. Yeah the gameplay is very shallow and I’m guessing that there were supposed to be different types of obstacles alternating on each screen so that you can’t do what I just described. The only two other screen I haven’t mentioned are the two Odie screens, one has him popping out of a chimney and touching him means death, the second screen is what I call the Land of Odie. The Land of Odie is a mystical place where you are forced to jump along the backs of multiple Odie sprites, and for some reason there are two of you, I think this screen is incomplete what about you?
Overall the gameplay is simple, shallow, and repetitive, and could definitely use some polish, all it really needs to be a complete game are some alternating obstacles and escalating difficulty and then you’d have a pretty decent game. If this had come out back in the 80’s I’m sure kids would have had some fun with it but since it was 1984 and the NES was right around the corner I think that fun would have been short lived.