The first time I saw this game was in an early edition of a mag called Club Nintendo, which was no other than Nintendo Power everywhere else. I fell in love immediately when I saw the colours, how original the stages and the enemies were… Little Nemo: The Dream Master was already a gem among tons of other platformers on the NES. Most franchises ported to the 8 bit consoles were well known by the players: Batman, The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, Karate Kid, Tom & Jerry, are clear examples of that, however Little Nemo is a totally different thing. Let’s dig a little bit into the story behind the game, shall we?
The game is based upon an animated movie from 1989 called “Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland” while Little Nemo, the main character itself, goes back to 1905, when he first appeared on Winsor Mccay’s comic strips that went by the name of “Little Nemo in Slumberland”. Comic fans and artists should take a look at McCay’s work with Nemo. The design of the pages as well as the layouts just seemed to go hand in hand with the facts of the story taking place, which considering the year when the strips were released, it was a sort of breakthrough in comic history.
This bit of a history lesson may seem unimportant but what I wanted to emphasize is that despite the fact that the character was old and almost none of the players may have known Nemo before the movie, the game achieved a pretty solid status among players and a good fan base where I am definitely included.
The story of the game begins with Nemo dreaming (hence the game’s title), and while enjoying a pleasant night a messenger of Princess Camille invites him to Slumberland. Once in that strange place, Nemo is briefed about the kidnapping of King Morpheous by the evil King of Nightmares, and decides to free the captive Morpheous armed only with a bag of endless candies (that’s the meaning of being tough, if you ask me).
As a guy that has played lots of games in my nearly 32 years of life, I’ve had the chance to wield all kinds of lethal combinations of weapons, especially after playing some of the Dead Rising games, but I must admit that a bag of candies has earned its place in my top 10 weirdest weapons I’ve used. Nemo will have to throw those candies through 8 levels (Mushroom Forest, Flower Garden, House of Toys –my personal favourite-, Night Sea, Nemo's House, Cloud Ruins, and Nightmare World) attacking the hordes of enemies that inhabit the sinister places of Slumberland.
Not all creatures are evil beasts, though, there are animals that will gladly help Nemo to find the different keys necessary to advance to de next screen if they receive a satisfying amount of candy. Among those gentle animals, there is a frog, a gorilla, a bee, a lizard, a crab and even a mole, each one with its own unique skill that helps Nemo to beat the hell out of enemies, jump great distances, fly, etc. Only when Nemo gets to the final level “The World of Nightmares”, he is awarded with some kind of stick that allows him to shoot magic beams in different directions. This weapon is the key element to defeat the mini bosses that prevent our from facing his ultimate foe and free King Morpheus (after many long hours and game over screens, surely)
Like most Capcom titles at the time, the controls of this game are simply an anthem of how a platformer game should play, except maybe when you are riding some of the animals, mainly flying the bee, where the D-PAD seems to hate the player all of a sudden for the damn bee is only capable of flying for small periods of time. In the graphics department we find extremely cool looking designs everywhere in the game, from the characters to the animated background, everything seems alive and surreal, as a good dream should always be. It is pretty clear that the team responsible for the game took notice of the comics. The different stages have very distinctive items that will sometimes distract the player just by looking at them. Boredom is not an option in this title.
I believe most players overlooked this game thinking this was just another platformer title for kids, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Despite the childish theme of the game and its main character Nemo, the title is far from easy. Every stage has its own complete set of challenges that can only be conquered with hours of practice, especially the third stage “House of Toys” where Nemo rides on top of a toy train while avoiding kamikaze attacks from toy planes, dodging deadly spikes and dribbling through a pouring rain of bombs. If that doesn’t sound hard enough for you, give it a try and you will experience the meaning of the word “frustration” more than once. Another element that increases the difficulty of the game is the total lack of weapons or defence while you are not riding an animal. I know I mentioned the candies before, and they are there for you to use in unlimited amounts indeed, but the sweets will only stun the enemies and they will be able to hurt you anyway. Also when you go back to a previously visited area of the screen, the enemies re-spawn, so you will need to deal with them all over again. Though quite hard, the game will grant the player several extra lives and unlimited continues although that will hardly help the player at all.
The sound effects and music are excellent as the rest of the game. You probably won’t be whistling the tunes of this game like in some other titles, but they complete the game marvellously. If there is ever a NES music compilation, CD collection or something, I personally believe that Little Nemo’s tunes should be included.
Capcom also released an arcade game in 1990 simply called “Nemo” who shares some of the stages with his “brother” on the NES, but few gamers were able to see the actual cabinet of this title since the distribution of the game was rather poor with only 208 machines ever made.
Overall, Little Nemo is a rather interesting NES title, among my personal favourites for sure. Chances are you may not find it at your local store, but if you do, please don’t hesitate to spend some money on it, I guarantee you it It’ll hook you the moment you press start.
Verdict:- A definite must for platformer lovers, despite the title not being well known. A hidden gem from those days of old when Capcom was simply the best. A past we all treasure at RGG. Even today, I enjoy every second of Little Nemo, its graphics, its difficulty, how perfect the stages are, every bit of it is for me a wonderful ticket to better times.
A recommended play for those platformer lovers and nostalgics of a genre that when turned 3D lost much (if not all) of its charm.
Second Opinion:- This is how you make a game that Transbot can get with, this is one platformer worthy of my approval.
An absolutely fantastic game from start to finish that both entertains and challenges you in equal measure whilst also adding some lovely touches of it's own that makes it stand out a mile against other games of the genre. Most games that are classed as classics on Nintendo's 8-Bit beast come from Nintendo themselves however Capcom and Konami stuff have to be played to be believed.
When something this much fun and that has aged so well comes along you simply have to stand up and clap, make sure you play this piece of magic as soon as you can.
Transbot Scores: 9 out of 10