Depending on your age, you probably have a favourite Addams Family. It might be that you’re old enough to point to the OG 1964 sitcom as the best. Or maybe it’s all about Raul Julia and Christina Ricci, with the Addams Family and Addams Family Values ringing your bell (“You raaaang?”). If you’re like me, you’re a contrarian and your favourite is the 16-bit Addams Family game, with Gomez and his propeller hat.
But we’re entering a bit of a third-coming of the Addams Family, as the 2019 animated movie was a modest success, enough to greenlight The Addams Family 2 which is imminent on the 8th October in UK cinemas. Such is the longevity of the brand that Tim Burton is also working on a live action ‘Wednesday’ series, with Luis Guzman and Catherine Zeta Jones. Yep, there’s nothing dead about this family.
With The Addams Family entering the cultural zeitgeist once more, PHL Collective and publisher Outright Games (PAW Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls) have put together a four-player Addams Family game that captures the macabre but fun spirit of the show and movies, called The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem. We put down our pads for long enough to chat with Nick Madonna of PHL Collective to find out what this gruesome beast is.
Could you please introduce yourself and your role on The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem?
Hi, I’m Nick Madonna and I’m the Studio Manager at PHL Collective.
Could you give us a film-trailer-like synopsis?
Oh wow, a film-trailer synopsis? Ok, I have to do this with all the classic cliches.
The Addams Family home is an old and mysterious mansion that hides many mysteries and doorways to the unknown. (Cue blaring trailer horns) In an attempt to discover what secrets it hides, the family sets out to find more information about the house’s origins and what weird and wild things exist inside. (Insert post-credits stinger).
Outright Games seem to be one of the few remaining publishers working on movie tie-ins. We miss the glory era for them on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii! Why do you think the movie tie-in has become so rare?
It’s undeniable that during previous console generations we saw a huge number of licensed games come out. Today it’s more about releasing smaller amounts of quality licensed titles instead of flooding the market with lower quality ones.
While it’s timed with the movie, it’s an entirely different story and problem for the family. What informed the decision to separate from the movie in this way?
When we set out to develop the title, we wanted to have the flexibility to be able to tell a story that worked with our design. Often being locked to a film script limits how we’re able to creatively approach a title. When we spoke to MGM about our original ideas, they fully supported our vision.
What relationship do you have with MGM and the movie, if any? Do you get notes on the characters, the layout of the mansion, that sort of thing?
Absolutely! This is a true collaboration between MGM and our publisher, Outright Games. We are in constant communication and are working together at all points during production to ensure that we’re making the best product we possibly can. MGM helped us stay true to the brand through the entire production. Everything from the MGM archive was provided to us and it ultimately helped us create a better game!
It feels like you’ve centred on ‘family’ being the heart of The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem, with a four-player cooperative experience and almost everyone in the family playable. Was that your aim going in?
The term “family” was a really important guiding principle for Mansion Mayhem. Our game was created to be a shared experience between kids and parents. We want families to play this accessible and rewarding game together as they step into the roles of one of the most instantly recognizable group of characters that spans multiple generations.
A four-player co-operative campaign must have been a real challenge to pull off. What are the issues with creating a game for so many simultaneous players?
That’s a great question! The design goal of Mansion Mayhem was to create an experience where cooperation and competition could exist in harmony. There were some challenges we came across throughout production but ultimately if an idea didn’t support the overarching design goal, we’d scrap it.
A lot of families will be looking to play The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem together. That’s a lot of different experience levels. How do you accommodate everyone?
We worked hard to make Mansion Mayhem accessible for all ages. While the game has some challenges and skills to master, it’s not punishing. The game went through a lot of playtesting throughout production. The playtesting data was beneficial because it allowed us to balance and tune the experience to accommodate everyone.
The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem is being launched on every platform you can imagine, both digitally and physically. How much tension does that create for you?
Not much actually. Our experienced team has launched many games for many partners.
As PHL Collective, you seem to swing between games based on beloved properties, like Ben 10: Power Trip, and your own games, like Clusterpuck 99 and Iris. What does it mean to be a PHL Collective game?
That’s a great question! Whether it’s a licensed title or an original title, we always strive to bring something fun and original to our games. There are a lot of connecting threads between our titles but if I were to pin down one thing it would be cooperation. We love to create titles where players get to share an experience.
And finally, Wednesday’s the best character, right? 😉
Sorry, I’m on Team Fester. The guy can turn on a light bulb with his mouth!
Many thanks to Nick and the team at PHL Collective for letting us peak behind the curtain of The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem.
There’s a couple of dates to keep in your diary here: The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem is due for release on the 24th September (check out the Xbox Store), and The Addams Family 2 movie is expected on the 8th October in UK cinemas. You can expect a review from us as soon as we can prize a copy of the game from Thing’s grip.
You’ll find the game releasing on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC. Expect to pay around £34.99 for it.