Review by Psycho Penguin
"Under the sea..."
I'm going to review the movie instead of the game. Just kidding.
Little Mermaid was one of many Disney games released by Capcom for the NES. And, like most of the other ones, it turned out to be innovative, unique, and most of all, FUN. Little Mermaid won't win any awards for deep gameplay, and it's not terribly long, but those looking for a satisfying and refreshing underwater adventure can do far worse than this washed up gem.
The storyline is pretty much the same as it was in the movie. Ursula is out to do something to Ariel for some reason. It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, you know. Anyways, you have to go through several stages to get to Ursula.
And I do mean several, because the game is not terribly long. Clocking in at a meager five stages, Little Mermaid is a fairly short game. Regardless, you will traverse unique stages, ranging from a sunken pirate ship to a underwater volcano. The stages are awesomely designed and have great enemies who, for the most part, don't act like they're retarded.
Sadly, killing these enemies will be a bit of a problem, due to the limited actions you can perform. Ariel comes with only a bubble as a weapon. You can power up this bubble so that it becomes more powerful and travels farther, but it will still take some time to get used to the distinct motion she uses to shoot the bubble (it's basically a kicking motion where she flips her tail from behind her outwards).
Also, you can capture enemies in bubbles (ala Bubble Bobble!) and then throw them at other enemies. You also open up chests and defeat the bosses in the game via this method. Capturing and throwing enemies never gets old, especially in this game. Of course, it leads to some fundemental problems (enemies will reappear WAY too easily, sometimes they reappear while on the same screen), but for the most part it was a nicely done addition to a great game.
There's a points system, and gettng points earn you extra lives. Of course, to gain these points, you have to kill enemies. Each enemy is worth a certain amount of points. You can also collect pearls. Pearls are worth 1,000 points, but more importantly, these are the items you can use that will help your bubble weapon travel further and become more powerful. You can collect 3 of each, but collecting more than 3 will move your bubble back to square one, for some odd reason I still haven't figured out.
The bosses in the game are fairly unique and interesting. They each have their own attack patterns that may take some time to get used to. One will sit in a pirate ship and fire sea animals at you. A shark will be immune to your attacks, but weak against fish that you can capture and throw at him. You'll even have to fight a pair of nasty eels. Figuring out how to defeat the bosses is one of the most fun elements of The Little Mermaid.
Fortunately, you'll barely have to worry about the controls at all. Once you get used to the way Ariel shoots out her bubbles, you will have no problems with shooting. You'd think that swimming underwater would lead to some problems, and it does, but only due to the control scheme. You see, you wll have to judge how fast or slow you wish to swim. If you wish to swim faster, you can speed through the stage quicker and get to hard -to-reach items, but you might hit an enemy by mistake, so knowing when to slow down and when to speed up is key to survival. I absolutely loved this idea, as it made the game much more fun to play through.
One would expect a Little Mermaid game to be a colorful romp, and it most certainly is. Underwater adventures have never been more exciting due to the vast array of backgrounds and enemies seen in the gane. The backgrounds each are colorful and fit the feeling of the stage perfectly. I especially loved the fiery underwater volcano, which was my favorite of the five stage designs. The enemies also animate very well, and look like they would in the Little Mermaid movie. Ariel animates smoothly and will encounter very little slowdown. I can't ask for much more than that.
The music isn't all that great, sadly. Capcom has a habit of putting great music into their Disney games, and while the music in Little Mermaid is certainly good, it doesn't have that special feeling to it. The music is certainly kiddy and goofy, but some of the music seems out of place in a Little Mermaid game. The first two stages have perfect songs, and the next three have mediocre to decent songs. So, the music is decidedly average overall. It won't make you turn off the volume, but it won't make you hum it for the next few days, either.
''Well, you know, these Disney games don't really have much challenge to them.'' This is what an inexperienced person would say, as we all know a majority of Disney based games on NES had some form of challenge. Same with Little Mermaid. The reappearance of enemies and the great attack patterns of the bosses will make even a battle-tested NES veteran die a few times. Plus, due to the limited amount of continues, you may not even complete the game the first time through. (Although I did. ;)
After reading this review, you might expect me to say the game has GREAT replay value, or something similar. And I wish I could say that, but with only five stages, you won't find too much here to keep you coming back. There are no major secrets, no side quests, just a few fun stages. It's fun for a day or two, but don't expect to become addicted to it.
But maybe that's what is so special about Little Mermaid. A fun game that will keep you busy for a while. That's all it is. And that's all it needed to be. It's one of my favorite Disney games, and boy were there a bunch of classic Disney games on NES or what? I definitely reccomend picking up this classic. It's a little hard to find, but well worth the time and money you spend. There's nothing like a fun adventure game to cheer me up from shooting people in the head or saving the world from an evil sorceror, and this is one hell of a fun adventure game.
Now only if the movie was this good... just kidding. ;)
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/19/03, Updated 06/19/03
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