Family Dog - SNES Review

I wrote this review way back when I was still in grade school. I must have been 11 or 12 at the time, dug this crap game out of the bin and wrote this up. I made a few edits when I dug it up from my old PC a few years ago, but other than that it's unchanged from the original. The writing is bad but so is the game. I've always wanted to see The Angry Video Game Nerd get a hold of this game and do his thing to it, but it seems to be one of the most obscure SNES games to date.

Honestly, if there’s one game that deserves more hatred than what it gets, It’s Family Dog on the SNES. I don’t know what I did in a former life to deserve having this stinker sitting on my shelf today, but there it is, and there it has been for the last decade. The worst part is, nobody seems to share the fury I have over this stinker. As of 2013, I’ve yet to see anybody else who had this game and hated it as much as me. Now WHY do I hate it so much? I’ll tell you why.




Now, I’ve never seen the TV show of the same name this is based off, and I’ve heard it was okay, but it was very short lived to my knowledge, So it’s probably safe to assume this was a quick cash-in made by somebody living in their parent’s basement. Let’s be fair now, who was expecting something to the grade of Final Fantasy III (VI) or Super Mario World?

So, I (regretfully) pop the cartridge into the system and (again, regretfully) flip the power switch to “ON”. Right away, there’s a good first impression as you see the logo to LEGENDARY game designers Malibu Games. Never heard of them? Then you’ve been living under a rock too long, pal! Actually, I’ve never heard of them either, further internet look-ups reveal the company phantomed out in the ’90s, so, scratch a good first impression out of your mind. Get the motivation to press start? You’ll be ever so kindly rewarded by the game’s first song! You probably couldn’t guess, but it sounds like it was designed by a chimp and loops every three seconds. None of the other songs fare any better, and the sound effects are typical for a game of this low of calibre. But hey, it’s worth it when you get engrossed into the amazing story!

Actually, there is no story. Now, to be fair, I haven’t read the manual or seen the show, but in the game, this happens. You’re a nameless dog, some nameless kid says “HERE BOY!”, and you go in. Think that’s not compelling enough? Well the developers thought so too, so they added a catch! Everything is trying to kill you in this house! Everything from bouncy balls, deformed cats, flying books, and indescribable GREEN THINGS. Just for kicks, I guess, the developers put more living books on the game’s poorly designed shelves (which I’ll discuss later), that are just waiting to kill you! Now, the graphics have to be better, right?!

Well, you’re in for some good news, because they are! But then again, what’s that saying? You’re not in for a Super Mario RPG experience, let me just say. The backgrounds are lifeless trash, repeating themselves like an episode of The Jetsons (Shame on me, mentioning a classic like that in with a disgrace like this). The sprites also just love to glitch up and look blurred. It sure doesn’t help that the most frames for animation they gave the sprites was about 2.5. I mean, if there were any less frames, the characters would just be stills moving through mid-air!

But that’s not what you want to hear about, is it? You wanted to hear about the gameplay, right? Really, with fun gameplay, this could be a hidden gem sitting in my collection (Taz-Mania, I’m looking at you). Don’t even get your head filled with ideas, it’s pure garbage.

Good variety, fun bosses, clever obstacles? Nope, instead, you just walk right! Sound’s like fun, right? Well, if you’re enough a glutton-for-punishment to think that, let me put it in layman’s terms. It’s not. As previously mentioned, the levels repeat themselves like an old-cartoon. “Hey, didn’t I just see that shelf, painting, and couch in that order 10 seconds ago?”, yup, you did! Now technically, you can get up on shelves and whatnot to do a LITTLE bit of exploring, but good luck registering yourself on the platform. Yup, it has that problem, the age old, legendary sign or lousy game design. You fall through platforms you clearly jumped on. This game gets better and better, doesn’t it? Just to sweeten up the deal, if you actually manage to get somewhere without either falling through a platform and landing at the bottom or falling prey to one of the many random household objects trying to kill you, you’re treated to nothing. There’s no decent power-ups, secret level unlocks (Not that that would be worth unlocking, unless it unlocked levels to an entirely different, much better game, which I doubt it does), or easter eggs, you just get to hurt yourself some more. Yay! Speaking of getting hurt, if you get hit by one of the many enemies (Including drops of water. Really.) it may or may not register, same thing with your barks (Your only real weapon, a projectile), the hit detection is just plain lousy. Also, before moving on entirely from the platform detection, I want to put one thing out there. The game changes the rules. You see a painting on the wall, decide to jump on it, and provided the detection agrees, you land on it. Then you see the same painting again (Which happens often), can you land on it? Nope, the game decides you can’t this time. But after all of this, are you surprised?

Now, to be clear, I’ve never gotten past the 2nd world, some dog pound jail place, not only because it’s ridiculously tedious and insurmountably painful, it’s just plain hard. Not just hard, really hard. For the wrong reasons. For one thing, your bark attack is limited, and you lose all of your barks if you die, so you have to search around for them, which is tedious and mundane. Not only that, dying sends you back to the beginning of the level. You just lose way too much progress for dying, and it doesn’t have any fun factor to make you want to regain it. The continues aren’t unlimted either, unless there’s some sort of a game over code or start screen code (E.g. the Konami code, not“Game enhancement devices”) that I’m not aware of. But that’s not what makes it so hard. Now if I haven’t sent you running to the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint against Malibu (Don’t, really, these guys were long gone after they got their quick buck 20 years ago), and you really aren’t convinced this is a terrible game, then read on to see why it’s so hard.


This game has some of the worst, maybe THE worst controls I’ve seen on the system. It’s worse than Shaq Fu. Yeah. That bad. First of all, the jumping sucks. A jump standing still will just launch you almost totally vertically up, while a walking or running jump will launch you to the right or left and you might get like, 2 centimeters of height. Not that it’s as much of a problem considering there are minimal obstacles to get over, just drops of water (BEWARE!). Another glaring flaw in the game, sometimes your dog will just start sniffing the ground, slowing him down to 1/2 or less speed, leaving him wide open for attacks from flying books. You see, there’s a gameplay mechanic with TONS of wasted potential, things are buried underground in random locations, but the problem is, the items suck anyways, and getting killed by random stuff because he has to sit there and sniff is not amusing. Now, the game developers couldn’t stop there, not wanting to be outdone by the developers of Dragon”s Lair (NES, non-PAL), your dog moves at the speed of a weighted tortoise. You can run, but then you’re doing an Indy 500, constantly getting hit by things, so it’s just as bad. But the developers couldn’t be satisfied there, no! Being as determined as they were to set a world record for the most brain cells killed in one play session, the controls were coded in about 1/2 minute (But then again, that number might too high, as that’s about 1/3 of the development time this game had). Really, every second of the day, your dog is jerking around, not jumping, not barking. The controls just don’t respond and BOOM! An indescribable green spinning thing, back to the beginning of the level for you! There was no excuse for this.


All in all, I really hope I’ve convinced the reader to not play this. The only reason anybody should pick this up is if it’s $.24 and you want to have something to destroy. The music is atrocious, the graphics could probably have been done on Sega Master System, the gameplay is an abomination, and the controls are a rival to Bubsy 3D. Even if you’re a collector and need every SNES game ever made, put this game under lock and chain, and hide it away. You’ll be doing yourself a favor. Trust me.


Final grade: F-