Obscure games based on outdated or obscure TV shows and movies seems to be a hidden specialty of the NES. There are a lot of games that just seem so… strange, that they even exist. Gilligan’s Island is no stranger to this infamous club, and so I began this trial expecting something bad here. There has to be a reason the Nerd picked this game for Pat the NES Punk’s 7th-annual NES Marathon… doesn’t there? Well as it turns out, not really; it’s a very, very average game for the NES. Nothing bad, nothing great. That, as it turns out, describes the speedrunning experience I had here, as well.
You control the Skipper directly (and indirectly, you control Gilligan as well) as you navigate 4 stages filled with wild animals, holes, obstacles, and Aborigine natives. Every time you ditch Gilligan (or he falls into an obstacle) you must retrieve him, or else you cannot continue your current objective. Luckily, there are hidden ropes that can get him back for you. Unfortunately, these ropes appear randomly in pre-determined locations, which can also spawn food (that refills the Skipper’s life) and a timer (yes, this game has a time limit, which decreases dramatically if you lose Gilligan).
On the island you’ll find 4 other cast members of the 5 from the show… and it’s true! THEY DID MY GIRL GINGER WRONG! THEY DIDN’T INCLUDE THE BEST CHARACTER FROM THE ACTUAL SHOW! (ironically, as of the day I write this, Ginger’s Actress Tina Louise is the only surviving main cast member from the original show). You will find, however, the millionaire and his wife, Mary-Ann, and the Professor. They will give you objectives to complete, weapons to fight bosses, keys to rescue other cast members, etc.
The speedrun is actually quite average and straightforward. There are no speed tricks here, the only strategies seemingly around keeping Gilligan near you, or letting him get lost and using ropes to retrieve him strategically. The game controls well, is pleasant enough to play, and has a few routing options. It’s nothing remarkable, but it’s far from terrible. I was able to get relatively close to optimal in a few hours, and could see a sub-30 push happening if I stuck with this game. Alas, I was able to squeeze all the enjoyment I could take out of this one, and I happily move on with a content sigh. Not as bad as I feared, and I kind of want to watch old TV show reruns now…