Review by Psycho Penguin

"Wow, I loved the movie and I love the game, too!"

Movie to game translations, as you may know, have never really fared too well. Total Recall is probably the most obvious choice of worst movie to game translation on NES, although I have still yet to play that, so I won't give my opinion on that. When looking at the best movie to game translations of all time, everyone should give a serious consideration to Willow. Not only is it a fanastic movie to game translation, it is also a fantastic game in its own right!

If you have seen the movie, you will feel right at ease with the storyline. For those of you that have not seen the movie, I advise you go out and see it, as it is a fantastic movie. Anyways, you play the part of Willow Ufgood, who is a midget. He is a normal little person, until he finds a baby floating down the river. Little does he know the baby is really an integral part of the evil queen's plans! So, Willow must set off on an epic quest to save the life of a little girl he knew nothing about until one fated day.

Willow not only has a top notch storyline, but the graphics are also terrific. Everything about the graphics rock, from the stellar character designs, to the serene visuals of the forest and village areas. Each background looks fantastic, and the game really gives off the feeling that you are actually in the fantasy word of Willow. It is simply a fantastic visual job all around here. However, there are some problems to be found. The enemy designs are not exactly innovative, and some come off a little flat, like the little slimes. Wow, slimes in a RPG, I can barely contain my excitement! Also, there is a lot of slowdown and other graphical problems present. Otherwise, however, an all around excellent graphical job.

Capcom has delivered some wonderful music on the NES, and Willow is certainly no exception. From the opening theme to the final boss, you will be immersed into a world of breathtakingly serene music that really fits the feeling of the game perfectly. I especially love the music that you will hear early on in the game as you go through the forest areas, it is simply fantastic music that really gets the player into the game. Sound effects could have been better, mainly because of the fact that there really aren't too many there. You get the usual role playing game fare that's been done to death, and that's about it. Regardless, the sound effects are solid, I just wish there was more flash to go along with the substance.

Controlling Willow could be an exercise in frustration at first, but once you get used to the rather unique sword system than you should be good to go. I think the biggest flaw comes when you are battling enemies. When you go to face them, the game won't let you turn, and you end up getting hit. This happened to me several times throughout the game, and it got more and more annoying each time. Also, you can't jump, which is a minor complaint, but still a complaint nevertheless. The menu system can get a tad confusing at times, but for the most part, it is satisfactory. Needless to say, the control was not the best part of Willow, but it wasn't totally horrible, either.

Willow is your typical action/adventure hybird, like Crystalis, in which you gain experience by killing enemies. However, it is sometimes really hard to figure out how much experience you need to get to the next level, and that gets annoying rather quickly. As you level up, you gain access to new magic spells, which you can use by going to the main menu and selecting the spell that you want to use. You go from place to place, like caves, dungeons, towns, etc. getting items for people, which enables you to get to the next place, usually. This is a usual role playing game idea, which should not have been executed here, as it makes the game more linear and a tad more boring.

One innovation here is when you gain power, you don't get stronger attacks, you just get the ability to lift your heavier swords.. however, that just lets you get stronger attacks anyways, right? Still, it is an innovative idea. The cool thing is, your sword swings slowly at first, and as you level up, you get to swing the sword quicker and quicker. This is cool, but it also makes the opening parts of the game a tad frustrating, as you are forced to swing a heavy sword at enemies, which already take several hits to begin with.

You will definitely want to replay this game a lot once you first get it, but once you complete it, you may not find a whole lot of reasons to come back and continue the quest from the beginning over again. Regardless, you will have a lot of fun while it lasts. I think the main reason for the game's lack of replay value is the dearth of secrets located in the game. There are barely any secrets, so when you complete the game, you'll basically be doing the same exact thing over again, with no exploration to find new hidden items you didn't get last time. However, the game is fun, and you will want to play it a lot based on that fact alone.

This game will definitely take a while to complete. It is a long and challenging game, and the controls do not help that. It never really gets too frustrating, but it will sometimes. Some of the bosses are tough, but the toughest part is trying to find all the items during this long quest. It will definitely take quite a few days to complete, but this is certainly not the most challenging game of all time. It is a decent challenge, however.

Overall, despite its flaws, Willow delivers a solid and enjoyable gaming experience. While not in the echelon of a Crystalis or a Legend of Zelda, it is still a terrific game in its own right that should be enjoyed by a lot of people. The graphics are sweet, the music is top notch, and the gameplay is fun as hell. It surely does have its share of flaws, but the sheer fun you will experience playing it overshadows all of the flaws.

Good Points
-The music is really, really special.
-The graphics look terrific.
-The game is rather fun to play, and has some novel ideas to boot.
-This is better than almost any movie to game translation on the NES.
-The storyline is fantastic.

Not So Good Points
-The controls could have used some serious work.
-You can find a downside to almost every aspect of the gameplay.
-It is rather tedious and linear.
-The lack of secrets doesn't help the replay value.
-The sound effects are just basic role playing game stuff.

I Run Down The Game... Psycho Penguin Style!
Storyline - 9.1/10
Graphics - 9.6/10
Music - 9.7/10
Sound Effects - 9.4/10
Control - 5.2/10
Gameplay - 9.1/10
Replay Value - Above Average
Challenge - Average
Game Length - 7 to 10 Hours
Is This Game Worth A Purchase? - Yeah.
Overall - 9.1/10

The Last Line
While not the perfect game, Willow is fun and innovative. Make sure to check it out, because it is a fun game.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/04/02, Updated 01/04/02

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