Based on the hit sitcom TV series of the same name, players control Tim "The Toolman" Taylor as he attempts to recover his stolen tools. Travel from the far reaches of the future, to the distant past as Tim must fight off dinosaurs, ghosts, mummies, robots and more. If you're thinking that this must have been a cheap cash-in bid, you're exactly right. But just how bad is this game? Is it the disaster of a train wreck everyone claims it to be? "Uh Al... that's not my screwdriver..."
"REAL MEN DON'T NEED INSTRUCTIONS!"
They really took that age-old belief to heart didn't they! So too did the Toolman Tim Taylor, so in his honor, the game comes with no instruction manual. Lazy perhaps, but certainly a notable quirk. Mostly lazy though
The lazy sleazy bastards!
HOME IMPROVEMENT: THE SHOW
Home Improvement was one of the most watched sitcoms of the 1990s. Debuting just one month after the Super Nintendo did in the US of A, the family sitcom comedy exploded into American households coast to coast on September 17, 1991. The show centered around Tim Taylor, an accident-prone father of three out in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. He also was the host of a lowly rated cable tool show, "TOOL TIME," where in each episode audiences were almost guaranteed one of the following: Tim cracks on Al Borland (Tim's assistant), Tim cracks on Al's hefty mom, or Tim causes an accident. Sometimes, even all three. TOOL TIME played nicely as a show within a show. Back home, Tim's plucky wife Jill held down the fort while neighbor Wilson Wilson (yes, Wilson Wilson) imparted much of his vast wisdom to Tim in almost every episode, with the funny gimmick of the audience never being able to see Wilson's face. As the series progressed, other family members would talk to Wilson, Jill goes back to college to gain her Master's Degree, the boys grow up and adopt their own trademarks (young Mark becomes a goth-type, middle son Randy becomes an outspoken environmentalist, and Brad becomes entrenched with his budding soccer career), and Tim goes through the various ever-evolving phases of being a father, husband, employee, brother and friend. The sitcom ruled the '90s, winning numerous awards and nominations. The final episode aired on May 25, 1999. Home Improvement ran for eight seasons, airing a total of 205 shows. To this day, reruns can be caught on syndicated TV, DVD box sets have been released, and fans still regard it fondly as one of their favorites of all time
Why was the show so popular? Sure, people enjoyed watching Tim blow things up, break random gadgets, and knock out Bob Vila with a 4x8, but there was more to the show than that. I grew up a huge fan of the sitcom. All the characters were very likable, from the never-ending philosophical wisdom of wacky Wilson, Al's wonderful rapport with Tim, rock-bottom Benny, and of course, who could forget the gorgeous Debbe Dunning as the Tool Girl? Beyond all this, the show was funny. Not everybody enjoyed it, but I sure as heck did. Some ep's were plain silly, while others dealt with more serious life matters yet managed to do it in classic Home Improvement fashion: handling it with the right touch of sensitivity yet maintaining the light-hearted sense of humor the show was so well known for. Episodes about drugs, cancer and death among others. Sure, this was nothing new among TV sitcoms (Full House and Saved By The Bell had already dealt with such issues) but nevertheless Home Improvement added its own spin on it and did so successfully. It was just a classic sitcom and the last one I ever really cared about. It had great parts that combined into one memorable whole. Of course, Tim will break every part... but that's also part of the show's charm, right? ;)
Do you think they can see King of the Monsters from here?
Hmmm, how 'bout now? Too subtle? Yes, no?
"Randy, can they see the King of the Monsters cab behind me?"
HOME IMPROVEMENT: THE GAME
"IN FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE...."
"Does everybody know what time it is?"
"That's right! BINFORD Tools is proud to present Tim the TOOLMAN Taylor, woo hoo!"
"Thank you Heidi, I am Tim the Toolman Taylor, and you all know my assistant, Al 'This Land Is' Borland. Al, today is a very special day here at Tool Time. The BINFORD tool company is honoring their favorite top-notch TV personality"
"Well thank you Tim. I appreciate BINFORD's support"
"Not you, oh Prince of Plaid! It's me, Tim 'The Toolman' Taylor"
"And how will they be honoring you, oh Master of Mistakes?"
"By adding my name to a new line of ultra-power tools!"
"Everyone knows that real craftsmen don't need more power, Tim"
"Shaddup Al. MY show, remember. And don't give me that phony new age philosophy! The modern man wants the same thing he did in the stone age. What is that, audience?"
"ARR ARR ARRR!"
"And now, time to reveal these new ultra-power tools with MY name on it!"
"Al! The tool case is empty! Quick, call security, call the police, call the National Guard!"
"Now Tim, take it easy. The tools were probably misplaced, that's all"
"Misplaced my sawdust! Look at this note I found backstage. 'If you ever want to see your precious tools again, go back to the Stone Age where you belong!' OK Al, joke's over. Where are the tools?"
"Tim, I swear it wasn't me. I wonder what they mean by Stone Age. Hmmm. Oh! Maybe it's talking about Sound Stage 3 on this lot! Y'kno they're filming Dinosaur Safari there. Might be a good place to look"
And off Tim goes, in search of his lost tools
TIM 'MACHO MAN' TAYLOR
In typical Tim fashion, leave him idle for a bit and he'll show off his "muscles"
Quite accurate of his TV persona!
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Tim Taylor starts off with three rudimentary tools / weapons
The first is the grappling hook that can be fired diagonally or vertically. It allows Tim to reach otherwise unreachable platforms and such
As gameplay-wise, it's nowhere near those two
The hook can only latch onto bare platforms, in other words, where there's no ground underneath
Use the jackhammer to open up certain areas of the landscape. It's only effective on some bare patches
Tim's trusty ole hammer can demolish breakable walls like such. "ARR ARR ARRR!"
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
There are five different weapons to be found during the journey. They're dangerous weapons to begin with, but Home Improvement fans know, in the hands of Tim Taylor, they become weapons of mass destruction!
Never trust Tim with a staple gun, folks, bet on that!
The staple gun is the first weapon you come across. It's like the "pistol" in the DOOM games. Serviceable, but you'll want to pack a little more heat if you want to get anywhere in the game. Still, shooting staples at overgrown insects does have its charms
Tim with a blowtorch? Get the hell out of state!
The new BINFORD Tim Taylor Blowtorch 6100 is a veritable house of pain! You can really fire up the baddies with this baby [Oh dear -Ed.]
The Electron Gun serves it up fast and furious
Tim with a stick of dynamite is just bad news waiting to happen...
Not one of my faves, it's got the shortest range and at times is unreliable due to its lack of coverage. Still, pyromaniacs will appreciate this one
"Anyone need a light?"
The Laser Saw is pure destruction! Although somewhat slow to fire, it's worth it, watch
It cuts a huge swath giving you maximum protection. Plus, it's simply the best-looking weapon hands down
The Laser Saw gives you more coverage than the local papers do of Sarah Palin
You can swing with your grappling hook and fire at the same time too. If baddies are coming your way in this rather vulnerable state, nothing clears house quite like the Laser Saw. You'd be sorry out of luck with the Dynamite if you're swinging and a swarm of flies comes your way
Not so here!
DOUBLE YOUR POWER
What's cool about the weapons is that if you see one you currently have, grab it! This effectively gives you double the weapon's power!
The Blowtorch 6100 is about to become the Blowtorch 12200!
By the way, is it just me or does the icon for the flamethrower remind anyone else of the old Super Soaker guns? Remember those bad boys of the early '90s? When the SS100 came out, the lineup was at the top of its prime. It was the must-have toy in my neighborhood, and my brother was the first to buy one. Thus, for a week or so, he enjoyed his status as the coolest kid on the block within our circle of friends. Ahh, the good old days eh? Nothing like an ol' fashioned neighborhood water fight
Now the flamethrower actually lasts for a few seconds before fading, very nice
"Who wants some BBQ?"
All weapons, whether in their first state or second, may be fired diagonally or vertically, in addition to, of course, horizontally. In that respect, it's a little bit like Contra crossing paths with a platformer in a weird way
I'm not saying it's as good as that combination may sound, but I'm just saying. By the way, ammunition is endless, so fire away!
Electron Gun 2.0 puts on quite the show!
The Staple Gun 2.0 turns into a vicious nail gun, pumping 'em out like mad
If you thought the first Laser Saw was nuts, feast your eyes on this!
Dynamite 2.0 gets more range and explodes with a bigger radius. You can take out stage lights for extra points. It may all seem a bit odd, but then again, you ARE playing as the host of a lowly rated fictional cable tool show... so you TELL ME what's really weird!
Ah-ha! Sadly, there lies the catch. You can only carry one weapon
GAME GOALS AND QUIRKS
Five crates in each stage of DINOSAUR SAFARI
The Toolman relies on nuts and bolts to stay alive. So as long as you have at least ONE nut in your inventory, you're good. Collect 100 to gain an extra life (shocking, I know). When damaged, everything goes flying much like Sonic the Hedgehog
Hey, I never said it was original!
You have like... one second to grab 'em before they disappear (!)
At the end of each stage, they cascade as bonus points
Look at the invincible swirl (once you have nabbed the proper icon, mind). Sonic must be rollin' over in his grave! So shameless, heh
You had better grab 'em. The timer is a KILLER in this game, and often the cause of death as it's a much greater threat than any of the normal baddies. Later on, crates become damn difficult to reclaim before the Timer sends you to an untimely demise [HA HA HA... -Ed.]
Break the blocks with your hammer or staple gun. Be sure to leave the middle column top block intact though so you may grab those rings, I mean, nuts and bolts...
Nice detail how the blocks go through different levels of deterioration
"Great, it HAD to be a dinosaur theme huh?"
Lucky for Tim that 9-11's on speed dial!
Weapons can be found lying around the landscape, or in the place of enemies' demise. Remember, you can only have one at a time. It's too bad you can't have 'em all and be able to cycle at your choosing, but DOOM this is not. Generally speaking, the staple gun and dynamite are the least useful
Attacking from a safe distance... always good stuff. And who knew that inside T-Rexs there are nuts and bolts. Eat that, paleontology
"Are ya just gonna sit there like some goof or help me out here!"
In his spare time, Tim enjoys nothing more than playing with his favorite tool [... -Ed.]
Zap away 'til he bites the dust. Takes several blasts, the tough git
Send this Primal Rage reject back to the dark ages!
Sorry Toolman. You can only use the jackhammer properly where there is no stone underneath
Meanwhile, a crate teases you in the distance
"This thing needs... MORE POWER!"
I said this game was unoriginal, did I not?
Pesky things... thanks to their awkward flight pattern
But ol' plant boy's no match for Tim Taylor and his destructive ways, see!
In these muddy regions, Tim slows down to a snail-like pace. Careful now, Toolman
So explore everywhere, hell, you'll need to to find all the crates
The flamethrower seems to work best on him
Grab that POWER UP icon before it disappears. You become a SUPER TOOLMAN with it. It allows you to walk on spikes without being damaged, which allows you to reach areas you could not otherwise, even with the grappling hook. You also jump higher. Nifty power up indeed, pardon the pun [*slaps forehead* -Ed.]
For you're standing on...
... the bones of an authentic-sized triceratops! Good thing it can't come back to life... or can it? Definitely one of the game's better looking set-pieces. Hop on the bones and stay clear of that muddy liquid that will bog the Toolman down like a nagging wife! [That's "Tim Taylor, care of Tool Time, PO Box 32733, Detroit, MI 48252" -Al]
If at first...
... you don't succeed...
... then try
TRY AGAIN 'til you waste that dinosaur's ass!
Before you can leap there, you must get rid of those blocks. Some good ol' swing and shoot action here. Moments like these... you enjoy it. Too bad the game couldn't keep it consistent however. It certainly had potential to be decent if handled with more polish
"OH, challenge me will ya?! Challenge ACCEPTED! EN GUARD!"
"WHOA WHOA WHOA!"
"AH-HA! HAVE SOME OF THIS, TOUGH GUY!"
"Ai ai ai WHOA EASY ai!"
"That's GAME! Tell me, WHO'S DA TOOLMAN NOW? HA!"
"WHOA WHOA OK OK YOU WIN!"
And folks, that can only happen to but one person: Tim "the Toolman" Taylor
Alright Boss, onto the next level it is!
1-3 starts out hot with a T-Rex roaming nearby. Take him out by perching yourself safely on the tree trunk below him. He may reveal a weapon, remember, you can only carry one
[My generation was a much smarter bunch ;) -Ed.]
In all seriousness, 1-3 is where the game starts to get really tricky. There are tons of overpasses and underpasses; you can drive yourself a little stir-crazy as you go through them and still have a couple crates missing. All the while the timer is counting down. 1-3 is some serious shit
He's baaack. Our old favorite friend. As usual he's very protective of his territory, as he warns Tim here not to advance any farther
I like 1-3's look. 1-1 and 1-2 were quite bland, but in 1-3 you start to see some lush colors. It feels more authentic, that's for sure
Look, an invincible icon down there! Meanwhile, watch out for that little blue bug (they're all over 1-3 and at times can be hard to spot due to the numerous waterfalls. Use the jackhammer on them, easy). The T-Rex may be charging but he's too much of a wuss to fall down, so take your time
"Oh really now? Is that so? Well, I'm afraid you forgot that...
... rules are meant to be broken and I'm the man for it!"
After you finish 1-3, and then 1-4, it's time to come face to face with the very first boss: a pissed off dragon beast!
SET 2: TEMPLE OF TOOLS
After making the dinosaur themed set extinct, Tim's off to Ancient Egypt (or a set designed to look like it anyhow). In each stage here you must locate SIX crates instead of five. Just great huh, they're really stacking the odds in your favor now
The multiple staircases can be tricky as you fight off scorpions and cobras
Too bad very few gamers will see the game this far
Surprise surprise... a mummy for a boss. Watch out for his laser beams. Just when you think he's dead, his severed head comes back for more. What a bitch!
SET 3: MONSTER THEATRE
Another original: a haunted house theme. Now you must collect SEVEN crates. Hey, after all, what's one more eh?
Spiders, bats, ghosts and walking suits of armor are the order of the day here
The Home Improvement Halloween episodes were f'n classics
Count Dracula -- what -- were you expectin' someone else?
Where's Simon Belmont when ya need him?!
SET 4: LOST ON MARS!
Welcome to the fourth and final world... welcome to the FUTURE. Here Tim will have to deal with robotic bad guys galore. To make the game more enjoyable, you must seek out EIGHT crates on each stage. Well bloody hell!
Be on the lookout for Doc and Marty McFly!
Here it is: the final bell, the last whistle. Defeat this giant machine and discover what really happened with your tools. The final boss shoots a variety of weapons at you. If you made it this far, consider yourself highly skilled
... is a true bitch. There are no passwords, no saves, no nada. You get a couple lives to begin with, and if you lose, say you lose all your lives on 3-2... if you continue then you start from the beginning... 1-1... ouch. Did I say how damn tough (and unfair) this game is? Sadly, no codes exist nor any Game Genie cheats for that matter. Much like another rock-hard, cheap SNES game, Time Slip, most players will never see the later sets of Home Improvement, let alone the 2nd one, Temple of Tools, but the very hardcore of the hardcore. At least Time Slip had Game Genie cheats! It's really too bad, because Home Improvement could have been so much better if it weren't so damn cheap
"... heh... did I say that out loud?"
By now, this routine's become muscle memory for Brad, Randy and Mark
To continue (1-1, woo hoo) or not? Al suggests you field the audience for their vote, so you reluctantly do
Al: Best check with our audience first, Tim. After all, the customer is always right
Tim: FINE, ol Al. Audience, what do ya think? One more go, yes?!
Al: Thank you Tim. So, audience, wha da'ya say!?
Well, that about sums it up. GAME OVER!
HOME IMPROVEMENT (AT THE) OSCAR(S)
Home Improvement reminds me a lot of a little game called Oscar. In Oscar, you control this chipmunk-y chap through four different movie sets: cartoon, western, horror and prehistoric. In HI, you also go through four movie/TV sets, with the same horror and dinosaur theme found in Oscar. In one game you're looking for crates to exit each stage, in the other you're searching for Oscars. Rather similar if ya ask me. The difference is Home Improvement has slightly more levels (4 per set, rather than 3) and end bosses. However, Oscar is the better game as the difficulty is better adjusted and the gameplay generally more polished. Neither are great games by any stretch, or even good games, but they may provide some decent fun if you're looking for something you've never played before, particularly Oscar. Of course, your mileage may vary. Overall, both games I found disappointing considering their potential to be decent games, but after a while Oscar grew on me a little bit. Maybe it's just me but I find it amusing how similar these two games are. Just a shame how Oscar wasn't fleshed out a little bit more, and Home Improvement not so damn cheap
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
GameFan completely ignored any coverage of Home Improvement. Many, dare I say most, people who have played it have called it "a piece of shit." The only source I ever seen that actually liked this game was, surprisingly, EGM. Perhaps they received a different game? It earned scores of 6, 6, 7, 7, 7. Everyone else pretty much slammed the game. I don't think it's THAT bad; it had some nice ideas but missing the polish that good games have. I think some of the critics are way too harsh on the game "See ya next time for THE MAN'S VIDEO GAME!"
Home Improvement had the makings to be a decent little game. Tim is actually a passable protagonist, and it makes sense somewhat that he could be a force to be reckoned with. After all, in Tim's hands, even a Q-Tip would instantly become a dangerous weapon. In the TV show Tim often caused hell by breaking tons of various crap and thus, it's believable. It's not like you're using Michelle Tanner running around kicking gnomes in the shins. Plus Tim's got those cool tools to lay waste to the bad guys. The weapons are pretty gnarly and I liked how you can upgrade them. It's too bad you couldn't carry all of them at a time though, as the game would have been a lot more fun if so. Speaking of the enemies, they don't look too bad. The end bosses, though generic, work. Dragon, mummy, Count Dracula, a machine of destruction. Highly unoriginal, but they're proven classics nonetheless. Same for the level themes. It's all been done before, and Home Improvement does nothing new with these themes. But prehistoric, Ancient Egypt, haunted house and the future are enjoyable themes still, despite the fact that they have been done a thousand times before. Tim animates well, as does his enemies. Yet, the levels themselves are a bit on the bland side and the visuals overall leave something to be desired. The game also has a bit of that slippery slidey syndrome, where when Tim goes down a hill he tends to really go down it. I guess in a way it suits his character, but it can be a bit annoying. The sound is poor, with the sole exception of the Home Improvement jingle that was decently ported over
The game's worst flaw is its unfair, tawdry gameplay. With no passwords or codes and a brutal continue system, few players will ever get past the first theme. The timer is a real bitch, and while it may work for some other games, it just doesn't work here. It hinders the enjoyment. The crates are difficult to secure in the time allotted. The enemies aren't a big threat, the timer is. How much better this game would be if it were just you vs. the bad guys. Instead, you're rushing around, fighting the clock, not really able to take your sweet time and enjoy the locales. Now some games with timers still allow you this opportunity, but the timer here is really not that kind. In addition to below average graphics and bad sound, Home Improvement falls way short of what constitutes a good game. It's got some nice touches here and there, and there were moments where I quite enjoyed it, but they were fleeting to say the least as the game's flaws would eventually rear its ugly head every so often, reminding me of what a shoddy programming job this was. By the way, Imagineering Inc. also brought us the wonderful likes of the Home Alone games, Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Toys. I think they honestly tried to make a decent game here, but ultimately they just didn't know how
And it's a shame. The game just needed a little more polish, and it could have been an interesting effort rather than the butt joke of the Super Nintendo world. Even though I'll contend people are WAY too harsh on the game, I'll also say that it is a "bad" game. But again, not the worst by any means, and certainly playable. At least for the first couple levels anyway. These type of games perplex me. Time Slip is another one. They've got potential, some cool weapons, decent bad guys, classic locales... but they're just too damn tough. Why make the later stages when 98% of gamers will never see them through? I was enjoying Home Improvement, having a blast setting everything on fire with the awesome flamethrower, until the damn game became far too unbalanced. How come I have 90 nuts, but when I'm hit, I can only retrieve 2 or 3 of them back, and that's if I'm lucky. Why do they disappear after one lousy second? That's a major gameplay flaw. If only they had spent a little more time fine-tuning it, this could have been a fun little game worth recommending. As it stands, this is strictly for diehard SNES and Home Improvement fans, but even then, you'll probably be disappointed. You're better off watching the show Sorry Toolman, you deserved better
It's not as bad as people say, but at the end of the day, it's still a bad game
Graphics: 4 Sound: 3.5 Gameplay: 4 Longevity: 3
Perhaps worst of all, no Heidi!
By the way, just how TOUGH and UNFAIR is this game? Check out the reactions of the stars of the show who played it. It pretty much says it all
"OHHHH MAH GAAAWD!!!"
What could have been otherwise. Because, I ask you...