The Three Stooges

Publisher: Cinemaware
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Zzap #38

The Three Stooges

Ma's Orphanage is in a state of disrepair and under imminent threat of closure: at least $5,000 is required to save it. The Three Stooges have decided to raise the money, and have 28 turns to do so.

The action is set across a board game format: locations are visited in a pre-determined order and offer six choices accordingly. One of five sub-games is accessed at these locations by choosing from a random icon bar: slapping, cracker eating, pie fight, hospital game and boxing. Every time a location is visited, a turn is used up.

Other icons are also available, including a dollar (the Stooges find a random amount of cash in the next location), question mark (rewarded either with money or a threatening visit from the evil banker), trivia (correct responses are exchanged for money) and a moustrap. This latter icon snaps off one of the player's fingers; if all are lost the game ends.

Empty squares lead to the slapping game: Moe stands with Curly on his right and Larry to his left, delivering chastisement to both. Slapping, punching poking and kicking shows down the selection hand which cycles through the choices; missing speeds it up.

The cracker eating contest involves Curly sitting down to a bowl of oyster stew and manipulating his spoon to get the crackers floating on top. $10 are awarded for each cracker, and $50 per bowl.

The pie fight pits the Three Stooges against computer-generated opponents on opposite sides of a room. Hitting opponents makes money, and throwing all the pies doubles the total amount. If the Stooges are hit five times, the sub-game ends.

As doctors, the trio face a vertically scrolling dodge 'em game in an attempt to reach the operating theatre in time. Colliding with five patients ends the sequence.

Finally, in the boxing sub-game Curly is entered for a fight, and a violin is required to drive him berserk. Larry sets out to find one in a horizontally scrolling dodge 'em game set across city sidewalks. If he returns before the end of the last round a bonus is awarded.


This is an odd piece of entertainment indeed, and I'm surprised that someone has been able to think up sub-games which could have any firm link with the Stooges.

The slapstick nature of the characters has been adequately transferred to computer with the aid of speech and digitised graphics. Gameplay, however, is made saddeningly tedious by overlong pauses between sub-games caused by intrusive disk access and unnecessary lingering on screens where nothing is happening.

The Stooge sprites themselves are chunky and indistinct, lowering the otherwise high standard of graphic representation. The speech is also repeated to the point where it becomes an ear-grating annoyance.

The sub-games themselves, though simplistic, are reasonably playable, but the slow pace of the game takes the edge off the fun.


Fans of the comic trio are going to be a little disappointed, since this is only halfway to being a decent game. All the potential is there: a series of sub-games set across an original board game format, a couple of interesting concepts (the pie-fighting and slapping) and an aim ties it all together.

Unfortunately, the sub-games are a letdown (the horizontal and vertical scrollers offer nothing new and the cracker eating contest is unremarkable), and the graphics - apart from the excellent digitised pics - are bland and blocky (our heroes look like pork sausages in suits!).

The speech, though good, soon becomes annoying, the wait between sub-games is too long and the disk access is a bit of a pain... It's worth a look, but don't expect too much.


Software comedy is a tricky subject to handle successfully, but thankfully The Three Stooges isn't without its humorous moments.

The use of digitised film frames and silly sub-ga,es has helped to retain that aura of slapstick cinema, at least to a certain extent. Covering an unexpectant face with pastry and pie filling, driving through patients in hospital corridors and running over a shocked canine on a cluttered sidewalk all bring a smile to the face of the player - the first few times they happen.

To stay with the game after that is a battle against slow and intrusive disk access, sub-game repetition and the headache induced by the annoying speech.

Credit must go to the game designers for coming up with some clever ideas, but unfortunately the entire game is just too repetitive to be worth recommending.


Presentation 46%
Good on-screen presentation marred by slow disk access and very annoying delays.

Graphics 69%
Blocky and uninspired characters set against reasonable but unvaried backdrops. The digitised pictures are excellent, however.

Sound 63%
Some fuzzy snippets of speech and reasonably 'cute' sound effects.

Hookability 72%
Six different and playable events and a specific aim prove initially appealing.

Lastability 30%
The gameplay is surprisingly easy, and consists of little more than reworkings of old formats.

Overall 46%
A disappointing translation of the comic trio, lacking in diversity and appeal.