Out of all the consoles I’m trying to collect games for, the NES is by far the hardest to get for cheap. NES games, ever since the dawn of YouTube, have become retro gaming gold depending on what game you’re looking for, according to some deluded seller, any game from the NES, or any popular game at all is going to be worth tons of money.
OK, it’s not just NES games, but they’re a good example and related to this week’s review. Unless it’s been re-released, even digitally, I’m playing it via emulator. And this game is the definition of “HOW MUCH, ARE YOU SERIOUS?”
Little Samson, known in Japan as Seirei Densetsu Rikkuru (聖鈴伝説リックル Lickle: Legend of the Holy Bell), developed by Takeru and published by Taito, it was released in 1992 in Japan and in the US and in 1993 in Europe.
So an evil Prince has been awakened and is trying to take over the world. The King, knowing his kingdom is in complete chaos, calls upon four heroes for help via pigeon messaging. The heroes, consisting of a boy, a dragon, a golem and a mouse, are linked via bell, though the dragon has some beef with the boy and they fight and the boy wins and the dragon is finally linked. The heroes are tasked with simply defeating the Prince and saving the kingdom.
The game is a platformer as you go around defeating enemies and getting from A to B. But here’s a unique feature, you can play as four heroes and switch to one another anytime during gameplay. The leader is Little Samson (or リックル Rikkuru), he can attack enemies by throwing…bells? Eh, whatever works. He can jump high and climb up walls like Spider-Man. He’s great to play and climbing on walls and ceilings, especially when you start playing is fun. But one hero can’t accomplish some of the things in the game, so next hero.
Kikira the Dragon (or…oh, that’s her name in the Japanese version too), she can fly for a short period of time, spits out fire and the shot becomes powerful if you hold B long enough. Gamm (ガンム Ganmu) is a big guy and big guys are slow but powerful. He can take the least damage, does not take damage from spikes (which will be helpful later on) and has the most health from the very beginning. Problem is, his jumping is pathetic due to moving slowly, this can be annoying in a boss at one point, but other than that, he can be useful like everyone else. And finally, we have K.O. the Mouse (or コウ Kō), a small mouse but is quick, can jump very high and like Samson, can climb on walls and ceilings, though he can also get to smaller passages.
All these heroes are very useful throughout the game, and whilst you can still beat the game using only Samson, it’s less stress-inducing by using the other heroes, they just make every level fun. The game is very short, in which you can finish it in an hour. In terms of difficulty, there was a spike when I had to fight Kikira, it’s a difficult pattern and I died multiple times but I eventually defeated her and the rest of the game has a steady difficulty and eventually gets harder overtime, especially the bosses.
There are two difficulty modes: Easy and Normal. Easy is simple but again, it gets challenging overtime, if a hero loses a life, their and everyone’s health will be filled back up. In normal, if a hero loses a life, they’re still dead, and the only way they can be revived is losing all your lives and continuing. And this makes for a tough experience, especially if you’re a first-time player. AND, you have to go through three more levels before you battle the final FINAL boss.
Personally, I hate these types of bits where I have to do something that’s kind of difficult, or more difficult than the main game to get something extra that may be integral to the plot, but it’s the NES and the NES was the poster child for hard games. But if you need some help, then you can collect some items like hearts to increase your health, they come in small and large, orbs can increase your health and you can collect 1-ups in the form of little Samsons…no, I mean, little Samsons…never mind.
The level design is colourful, highly detailed and utterly fantastic, the graphics, for the NES, is the best it can be, especially for 1992. I noticed that the character sprites are highly memorable. The music is OK, but not highly memorable nor that fantastic but gets the job done when playing the game. Each hero has their own theme and they represent their characteristics, with my favourite theme being Samson’s with his cheery and uplifting piece. Kikira gives you the feeling of flying, since that’s what she can do, Gamm’s music is slow but gives you the feeling that he’s really strong, and K.O.’s theme is sneaky and very jazzy.
Overall, this is a perfect example of taking the best of what games had to offer and delivering it to you in a bow tie, though you didn’t care for the present because you have a SNES to care. It’s up there as one of the best NES titles for the system, I enjoyed every minute of it. Unfortunately, instead of being known as an underrated title for the system that we can still appreciate, it’s now known for that game that costs so much money that you can never hold a physical cart in your hands. This is why it should be re-released on Virtual Console. If you have no problem using an emulator, try it out.
If you have that cash money, as in fully loaded to the brim, only then can you get it on the NES/Famicom.