Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Box Shot
Little Nemo: The Dream Master
Platform: NES
Publisher: Capcom
Designer: Capcom
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

You can't always say that companies expect games from licensed characters to sell. Little Nemo: The Dream Master is an example of this. Nemo is a character from a comic strip way back in the 1920s. This came out before the little feature film of the early 90's, so basically nobody knew who the character was. Perhaps Capcom hoped that its gameplay would propel the game to sales. It doesn't quite succeed.

Nemo is your typical lad (with blue hair) that is called into a dream world to save it from this nasty nightmare king. Each level is its own different dream. Some of these include a mushroom forest, an upside down level and even a gigantic model of Nemo's house! After completing the first several levels, you'll be tossed into Nightmare Land, with a few extra levels to keep you budy before reaching the final boss.

The game levels are not linear are their structure. It promotes exploring the levels. Instead of simply walking to the end and heading to the next stage, you must find a predetermined amount of keys in the level to open the locks. When all of these are found, you are allowed to move onto the next stage (there are no bosses until you reach the final levels, where the whole idea of gathering keys is pretty much thrown out the window anyway.)

Your main weapon is, believe it or not, candy. Although this only stuns normal monsters when you throw a piece at it, when fed to certain animals they allow you to hop on their backs or "become" them (don't ask.) For instance, toss three candies to that friendly looking frog over there and he'll fall asleep. Just walk into him and voila, you're a frog! You can jump extra high, bounce on bad guys and even swim. There is a variety of other animals that you can find too with various powers (among them, moles, lizards, bees and gorillas.) The life meter on each of these creatures vary too. Although you can usually only take three hits, some animals can take up to five.

While this system directly borrows from the whole "suits" idea of Super Mario Bros. 3, it also provides what I see as a big problem. Without a suit, Nemo is practically defenseless. Sure, he can stun the enemies for a few seconds, but then what? You can jump over them, but Nemo can't jump very high and many of the monsters are rather big. Even Mario could at least jump on the bad guy's heads! I don't like having to dodge every creature on the screen until I can get a suit. Once you reach Nightmare Land, you are given a magical scepter than can be charged up and used to attack, but this only fires in a diagnol upward direction.

Another quibble is the level structure. Although the search-n-find approach lends well the first couple times you play the game, it gets old really quickly. Some levels are downright annoying too. The third level involves simply riding on a train, dodging airplanes and ducking under spikes. This is also one of those levels that you don't get any animal suits, making things very, very annoying. The latter levels have many annoying jumps to be made (you know the have to jump far enough so that you make it over the pit but not high enough that you bash your head on the spikes hanging overhead.)

The graphics are more than just passable. Although nothing extraordinary, they are pleasant and well detailed. The music, for the most part, is rather annoying with the exception of a few tunes here or there. And the less said about the sound effects, the better. The control isn't too bad, but climbing on walls and ceiling as a lizard can be difficult and Nemo should be able to jump higher.

On a whole, Little Nemo: The Dream Master is not a bad game. It can be fun, but it just doesn't grab me like other games do. Basically the game is just a simplistic puzzle...get monster A to get Key B, and find monster C so you can reach item D. Fun once, but gets tired after awhile.