Based on the movie, Kevin McAllister has been left home alone, and he has to defend the neighborhood from Harry and Marv, A.K.A. the Wet Bandits. He travels from house to house on a motorized sled, and if he beats the Wet Bandits to one of the houses, he can set traps. He can also assemble weapons by collecting items in the houses and in the snowmen he knocks down. The goal of the game is to save as many of the houses from being looted and flooded by the Wet Bandits as Kevin can. Kevin doesn't have any lives, but the game is over if all five houses get flooded. The Wet Bandits have a Pain meter, and if it fills up all the way, they will leave the house and come back later.
A sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, based on the titular second film in the series, followed in 1993.
Home Alone contains examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: Kevin defends the entire neighborhood in this game, as opposed to just the McAllister house. The Old House, the Ultra Modern House, the Country House, and the Colonial House were all created for the game.
- Ash Face: Harry and Marv get a face full of soot if they're hit by either the blowtorch or Kevin's hot coal rifle.
- Bamboo Technology: Kevin can assemble homemade weapons by finding items in the houses and in the snowmen he knocks down. He needs a platform, operator, and ammo for each. They are auto assembled in the Beginner difficulty, but he has to assemble them himself on the Expert difficulty.
- Blinding Camera Flash: One of the weapons Kevin can assemble is a flashbulb shotgun, which provides this effect on Harry and Marv.
- Cats Are Mean: The Country House has a cat in it, that attacks Kevin, Harry, or Marv if they get near it.
- Cherry Tapping: Weapons that don't do a lot of damage still knock down or otherwise incapacitate the Wet Bandits from searching and looting the house for a few seconds. Since your overall goal isn't "defeat the Wet Bandits", instead "stall the Wet Bandits until time runs out", weak weapons in terms of raw damage are still plenty useful, especially if Kevin's blocking the path to unopened safes in the current house.
- Denser and Wackier: Compared to the relatively realistic movie it's based on, this game's presentation is more goofy and cartoony, with such elements as homemade weapons and their comedic effects, a house with a ghostly spirit, and a futuristic house with a robot security guard.
- Eternal Engine: The Ultra Modern House, complete with a robot security guard that shocks whoever it catches.
- Floorboard Failure: In the Old house, the floors break if Kevin, Harry, or Marv walk across them. Kevin can use this to his advantage, as he can hit Harry or Marv with one of his weapons as they try to jump across one of the holes, causing them to fall through it and increasing the pain in their Pain meter.note
- Golden Ending: If you manage to keep the Wet Bandits from flooding any of the houses, you'll get to see a cop-car pull up behind their van, ready to arrest them and take them away.
- Hard Mode Perks: There are a few minor but significant changes to the rules between 'Beginner' and 'Expert' aside from the time limit and auto-creation of weapons. Notably, Expert Mode randomizes the order in which Harry and Marv go to each house while Beginner Mode forces Harry and Marv to do so in a very specific order. Additionally, Expert ALSO randomizes the order and contents of item and weapon part pickups inside the houses, while Beginner has those fixed as well. However, in Beginner Mode, the Mansion, Harry and Marv's first target, doesn't have a lot of weapon parts in one category of weapon creation, forcing you into an early disadvantage if you aren't quick to grab more parts from the other houses or the always-random snowmen outside. What's more, Expert adds a few additional weapons that you can't get in Beginner Mode, which are either very powerful, stun Harry and Marv for a very long time, or do both.
- Hold the Line: Harry and Marv can't be permanently defeated. Instead, your actual goal in both a per-house sense (if the 'loot' bar fills up before either the 'pain' bar is filled or the timer runs out, the house is flooded) and a meta sense (if all five houses get flooded, the game is over) is to keep them busy while the police are en route. Keep at least one house unflooded for either 20 or 40 minutes depending on your difficulty, and you win.
- Human Snowman: One of the homemade weapons Kevin can assemble is a snowball launcher, which temporarily turns Harry and Marv into this if he uses it on them.
- Pepper Sneeze: One of the weapons Kevin can assemble is the Pepper Bazooka, which causes Harry and Marv to go in a sneezing fit if he uses it on them.
- Permanently Missable Content: Once the Wet Bandits flood one of the houses, Kevin cannot return to it, and any items or weapon parts that were still inside at the time are as good as lost.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: If Kevin manages to fill up the Wet Bandits' Pain meter all the way, they will leave the house and come back later. They'll also drop all the loot they'd collected from the house, so if they come back to that house later, you get a fresh start.
- Sonic Stunner: One of the homemade weapons that Kevin can assemble on the Expert difficulty is the Sonic Wave Gun, which emits a sound wave that temporarily stuns Harry or Marv.
- Spiders Are Scary: In the Mansion, Buzz's pet spider crawls along the ceiling, occasionally knocking down either Kevin, Harry, or Marv if they get near him.
- Springs, Springs Everywhere: Kevin can bounce on couches to reach items on higher shelves. He can also collect tires from snowmen to drop and use as temporary springboards.
- Sticky Situation: One of the traps Kevin can set in one of the five houses is tar, which can slow Harry and Marv down when they walk across it. He can also assemble a glue gun to use against Harry and Marv and temporarily stun them.
- Timed Mission: How much time you're required to hold off the Wet Bandits depends on the difficulty. You've got 20 minutes on the Beginner difficulty, and it's extended to 40 minutes on the Expert Difficulty.
- Video-Game Lives: Averted to an extent; Kevin doesn't have a life meter or lives, so the only way he can lose the game is if the Wet Bandits flood all five of the houses. If either Harry or Marv catches Kevin, they will hang him on one of the hooks on the wall, which he can wiggle his way off of. Also, Kevin can get hurt by hazards in the home, which he'll recover from after a while. This said, however you get incapacitated, Harry and Marv have the uncontested run of the house while you're recovering.
- X-Ray Sparks: If Kevin, Harry, or Marv get caught by the Robot in the Ultra Modern House or the Ghost in the Colonial House, they will get electrocuted by them, causing this to happen. Kevin can also assemble an electrical grenade weapon to use against Harry and Marv, with the same effect.