Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! (SNES) Playthrough

A playthrough of Absolute’s 1994 license-based platformer for the SNES, Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!

Of all of the 1990s American sitcoms to turn into a video game, there really had to be many more appropriate choices than Home Improvement. Seriously. For those of you that don’t remember it (or are too young to have seen it), consummate idiot Tim Allen works on a television show, with cohost Al Borland, showing off power tools from Binfood Tools. He’s obsessed with making stupid grunting sounds, destroying his house, and blowing things up in his never-ending quest for “more power.” His wife was the necessary but detestable nagging voice of reason, and his three teenage boys were generally useful only as props to teach hackneyed moral lessons with. I think that about covers it.

So how might one turn that concept into a video game? Well, if you’re one of the three people that ever *actually* liked games that presented you with giant mazes filled with random, must-collect items, get ready to be excited!! …?

Really, that’s all Home Improvement is. And it is absolutely dire because of it.

There are a lot of fun little details – the intermission scenes are pretty neat pixel-recreations of Tool Time, the theme song is… well, it’s recognizable, and the background of each stage (just to make sure you remember that these are TV sets!) have bits of scaffolding and framing showing though in unfinished spots. The graphics are reasonably nice, though they get progressively uglier throughout the game, becoming more and more cliched and muted looking as you progress.

There is also no manual. I think that the slip of paper in the box that said, “Real men don’t need instructions,” was also meant to be some sort of clever nod to the spirit of the show – of course it wasn’t merely a pretext for sidestepping the costs of printing a manual. Right?

Besides the ridiculous button layout on the control pad (good luck trying to hit fire and hold the run button at the same time!) the controls are responsive and do what they need to, but try to not change directions too quickly. The screen tracking tends to awkwardly rubber band around Tim, making for a somewhat nauseating movement whenever you change directions to quickly.

The game itself isn’t that challenging: the enemies are relatively easy to dispatch, and the game will point you toward the next item you need if you let Tim stand still for a moment. The real challenge comes from the battle of attrition it presents. It’s so long and unnecessarily drawn out that you’ll be crying uncle before you’re even halfway through.

I actually started playing this game about four years ago so that I could learn it and put together a video. I originally intended to make this video four years ago, but it’s a complete chore to play, and I utterly loathed the idea of taking it out and plugging it in. I actively avoided it.

The real shame is that the Pitfall-like mechanics are solid and the graphics are reasonable, but in supporting such a banal, tired concept, there is zero reason to care. The gameplay completely lacks any personality, and it revels in wasting your time.

A few weeks ago I meant to sit and record this, but about five minutes in, I actually got up, started a load of laundry, loaded the dishwasher, and then started cleaning my kitchen windows. There aren’t many games that I’d chose housework over.

But then again, it is called Home Improvement, so I guess there’s that? Honestly, I’d have preferred “This Old House” with Bob Vila as a SNES game.

Genesis owners should thank SNES players: the Sega version that was under development was cancelled because of this game’s abysmal sales!

Whoever requested this can kindly go ingest a lot of toxic chemicals now.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.

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29 thoughts on “Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! (SNES) Playthrough”

  1. seems like 70% of people say “this game sucks”
    but %30 are like “this game is good if you take the time with it and give it a real chance”

    the way i see , most games deserve a fair shot. don’t just pick it up for 20 mins and decide if it sucks–that is if you even play it. i feel like too many people bandwagon-hate on stuff, so many of you sheep are like “this game is bad, even tho i never played it i’m just gonna say it is cuz other people say it and it looks bad from the YouTube footage i seen.”

    that kind of behavior is really reminiscent of when a band changes their genre on a new album and every single soul in existence says “this band suck now cuz their new stuff is different”. like come on, why not just listen to their new album like it’s a new band instead of following the critic trends?

  2. A Family Matters game would make more sense. Actually, I can easily write the plot for that game: Urkel Bot is the main antagonist and creates clones of himself to take over the world. It's up to Urkel to stop him.

  3. "Genesis owners should thank SNES players: the Sega version that was under development was cancelled because of this game's abysmal sales!

    The best part about this is there were people whose entire work life consisted of this game.

    People who went to college and worked their butts off, took out student loans and worked at the school book store to become programmers and graphic artists. And they almost didn't finish school but their Grandfather pulled them aside and said… "son, if you can just get through this the world is yours." So they kept going. Getting their grades up until finally they graduated. But after graduation they found out that Grandpa was sick. So, still in their graduation robes, they went to his bedside. And Grandpa looked up and smiled because he knew they did him proud.

    So then they got the call from their potential employer. They went out and bought a new suit. They went in and interviewed. Then a week later got the call they were dreaming about, the job was theirs! Then they commuted in traffic for an hour each way to sit at their desk for 8 hours to work on Home Improvement.

    And somewhere in there was an overly excited middle manager whose job it was to raise moral and really get the team to rally around this game.

    And there were board meetings held. Work sessions held. Conference calls. Story Boards were created… for Home Improvement.

  4. Here are five tips I can offer on Power Tool Pursuit:

    1.You need to play this game as slowly and methodically as possible. As a result, most of these levels take up about five or ten minutes to beat, and that's if you're being very careful. If you're not being careful and just rush in like a fool, you're gonna get butchered right away!

    2.The best weapons to use are the flamethrower and the lightning gun, since they both have good hit-boxes and can attack through walls and ceilings, which is very useful in a game where many enemies take a lot of hits to kill, have long invincibility times after being hit, and have access to ranged attacks.

    The nail gun is also a good weapon to use since it fires constantly, the nails arc in mid-air allowing them to kill enemies in awkward locations, and it's great at clearing out pests. The only downside is that the nail gun can't fire through walls like all the other weapons, but that's a small price to pay for convenience.

    As for the bad weapons, try to avoid the chainsaw because its hit-box is kind of weird, and stay as far away from the dynamite as you can since its attack range is pathetically small and the weapon itself is awkward to use.

    3.Be super careful around bottomless pits. Always check below you before making any downward jumps near the bottom of a level.

    4.The spike/fire/slime-filled pits are not too bad, because it's often easier to just jump in the pit and sprint across while you pick up some of your dropped bolts on the way than it is to try to jump/grapple over them one platform at a time.

    5.The end level bosses are an absolute joke if you have the right weapon to fight them with.

    If these don't help, there is this little patch that can:


    Bottom line, to quote FFL2and3Rocks, yes, Tim Allen fighting dinosaurs, giant scorpions, and ghosts IS stupid, but if you can look past that, Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit is a pretty fun SNES game if you like a challenge. It’s not Super Ghouls & Ghosts hard, but it’s still difficult.

    Now, I know I’m going to take a lot of heat for this, and why am I showing mercy to Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit? Because if I bashed it to shreds, I’d be just like EVERYBODY ELSE!

    And I’m not, I’m better than that!

  5. Dude I have watched quite a lot of your playlist and even though a lot of the games you have played are good I don't know how you were able soldier through so many bad games. I can't imagine how many years it must have taken to get through all these games.

  6. This is a really weird game, and I don't just mean that because of the idea of Tim "The Toolman" Taylor running around movie sets fighting monsters with power tools. On the surface, it seems like it had a lot of potential to be a really cool game. For example, let's go back to your Bionic Commando playthrough. You said at the time that you wished there were more games that used the kind of play style Bionic Commando did. Funny thing is, Home Improvement actually hits a lot of the same notes. You have a variety of cool and crazy weapons, like a rapid fire nail gun, a chainsaw that shoots energy blasts, a flame thrower, and a powered up arc welder. You have a grappling hook that you can use to pull off all kinds of tricks, and in this game you can even jump AND use it. Finally, you have a wide array of enemies that are just begging for you to shoot them. On top of those, I'll admit a lot of the levels in Bionic Commando could be rather maze like as well, particularly the later ones. All the same parts, but for some reason they just don't come together as well. I'd love to get your perspective on just what Bionic Commando does so right that Home Improvement does so wrong.

  7. From the video description I honestly expected something much worse (though it needs more catchy music *badly*).

    That said, if you were to give me the premise of that sitcom to come up a game with… maybe something about wrecking things with absurdly powerful tools :v (or maybe even building the tools to escalate the wreckage). Slice of life sitcoms would be actually a lot harder to come up ideas for.

  8. Giant and random mazes, huh? Without so much as a speck of creativity put in, huh?
    The only decent SNES title Absolute made IMHO was Turn and Burn: No Fly Zone. They got as good as anyone could get with a flight simulation title on the console (system damage, radar tracking, etc.). Though the only flaws is with using guns is too WWII and only enemies [outside of the special objectives from Mission 4 onward] are MiG-29s.


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