It was Moe, he of the pudding basin hair cut that first heard the crying. Pointing the noise out to his two colleagues, they quickly determine that the source is the nearby orphanage. For want of anything better to do, i.e, resting to use actors' vernacular, they go to investigate. They quickly trace the sobs to Ma, the sweet little old lady who runs the orphanage. "I'm not surprised she's crying, she must the be the oldest orphan I've ever seen" comments the curiously named Curly who has a distinct lack of both hair and brain cells. The story is soon told. The mortgage to the orphanage is held by the miserly Mr. Fleecem of the Skin and Flint Finance Corporation and he has decided that he wants his money within the next 30 days or else he is going to foreclose on the loan and tear the building down. For once the Stooges agree. They will raise the money and save the orphanage somehow. How much this decision is determined by their natural generosity and how much by the fact that Ma has three beautiful daughters who might just be available for marriage if they can find enough money is open to debate, but nevertheless, our three heroes set off, full of optimism.
The game is set in the town of Stoogeville. The main (indeed only) street consists of 180 squares and the boys can move up to six squares on each turn. The street is one way so there is no turning back once a square has been passed. Rather than rolling dice to move, the Stooges do at least have some measure of control over their destiny and destination. At the beginning of each turn, the next six locations on the street are displayed as icons at the top of the screen. A hand points randomly to each of the locations and you can press the fire button to stop it where you want.
That at least is the theory. In practice, things are not quite so simple. To start with, you only get a couple of seconds to study the icons before the hand starts to move. There is also a time limit that you must choose your square in, otherwise you end up moving to wherever the hand stops, be it beneficial or harmful. Finally, although it is fairly easy to choose the location you want early in the game, the rate at which the hand moves across the squares speeds up dramatically in the latter stages of the game making selection something of a lottery. It is however possible to slow down the hand - see later.
The object of the game is to raise as much money as possible within thirty days and there are four possible results. If you fail to get 5000 dollars, then Mr Fleecem will be able to evict the kids and pull down the orphanage. Over $5000 saves the orphanage for the time being. Over $10,000 and they can pay for the orphanage to be repaired as well. More than that, (amount unspecified) and the Stooges will be able to marry Ma's lovely daughters.
Some squares offer the chance to earn money, others are hazards that should be avoided wherever possible. Not least among these are the mousetrap squares. If Moe's hand should land on one of these, it snaps shut breaking one of his fingers. Loose all four fingers and it is game over time. It is not always easy to give them a wide birth. At one point in the game, four of the six squares arc traps with the hand moving at top speed to cause extra problems.
The easiest source of cash is to land on a money square. Here, the Stooges find a wallet, money bag or gain a reward without having to do any work for it. Easy but no fun. Trivia squares offer crackers that are scattered in the bowl. The only problem is that one of the oysters is intent on fighting back and is snapping up the crackers as quickly as possible. The rewards are ten dollars per cracker and fifty dollars per finished bowl of stew.
Put any comics near a custard pie and the results are inevitable! When the Stooges get mistaken for waiters, it seems to be a heaven sent opportunity both to earn some money and take part in one of their favourite pastimes. A number of pies have to be 'delivered' to the three guests in the restaurant. Delivery in this case involves standing on the opposite side of the room and hurling the pies with all your might. A successful delivery is only recorded though if the pie actually makes contact with its target. There are no dollars for a miss. Beware though, the customers fight back and you have to avoid being hit yourself. The Stooges can take five direct hits before they arc unceremoniously sacked. The rewards can be quite high though if you can master the noble art of flan flinging. Ten dollars per pie and double money if you manage to deliver the number specified in your contract.
Of all the jobs in the world that you would deem to be least suitable for the boys. Hospital Doctors must be very high on the list. Nevertheless, the Stooges have somehow managed to acquire medical certificates and are now answering an urgent call. The hospital corridor is crowded and this is an emergency but fortunately, once again, help is at hand.
Three mini dodgem cars just happen to be lying around and the Stooges set off at breakneck speed, trailing one behind the other. There is good money to be earned if they can reach the operating theatre. As everybody else also seems to be in a hurry, extra cash can be earned by picking up the supplies that fall off the nurse's trolley. Depending on who picks them up governs what the payment will be.
Naturally, the Stooges should avoid hitting any of the people in the corridor as they career round the hospital. Up to five hits are allowed before they get chucked out. This is not as easy as it sounds for where it is easy for the first car to miss a patient in a wheelchair, the second and third cars swerve out alarmingly, the more so the faster you are going and it is often these two vehicles that cause the collisions when you arc concentrating on the first one.
Curly has always fancied himself as something of a pugilist even if he doesn't know what the word means. The secret of his success though is a method that so far seems to elude the likes of Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson. Providing that Larry plays Pop Goes The Weasel on his violin. Curly is invincible. The challenge to six rounds with some mauler, sounds as if it should be a nice little earner.
And it would have been if Larry had not accidentally sat on his 'Stradivarius' just before he reached the last few bars of the tune. Panic sets in. Where can he obtain another violin at this time of day. The answer is nowhere but a radio playing the tune might do just as well.
Larry has to rush through the streets dodging obstacles, find a radio and return before six rounds arc up. The pavement is divided into two lanes which Larry can switch between as he tries not to collide with doors, lamp posts and ladders. They all have to be dodged but he can leap over smaller obstacles such as fire hydrants, sleeping dogs and packing cases.
The final arcade game does not earn any money per se but it does make things easier on subsequent turns. Or at least it does if you do it properly! When the Three Stooges move along and find themselves on an empty bit of pavement, they start bickering among themselves trying to decide who is to blame for wasting a turn. This quickly degenerates into a fight as Moe tries to knock some sense into his companions.
Standing between them, he must try to hit his friends as often as possible in the allotted time. For every successful pull of the ears, poke in the eyes, slap in the face or kick to the stomach that he lands, the speed of the hand will decrease. For every blow that misses its target or is dodged, the speed increases. The secret behind a successful strategy here is to fake a few moves to get your opponent moving the wrong way before you actually hit him.
The graphics in the Three Stooges are an excellent mixture of cartoon animation and digitised pictures of actual film stills. It is the sound however that really makes you sit up and take notice. Sound effects and tunes arc superb and Cinemaware have also obtained the rights to use Curly. Larry and Moe's actual voices so that fans can delight to the genuine sounds of 'nyuk, nyuk' and the like.
If you examine the individual parts of the Three Stooges, then there is little to get excited about. None of the arcade games would stand up on their own. But that is not the point. Cinemaware titles are better described as entertainment rather than games pure and simple. Indeed, that is their whole underlying philosophy.
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