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The Little Mermaid - NES, Game Boy (1991)

American NES Cover

Considering that The Little Mermaid movie was released in 1989, the video game release certainly took long enough. Regrettably, the game as a whole seems to have been treated as an afterthought by Capcom. It's not unexpected since the Super Nintendo had just been released. Rather than fashioning the game after the movie, Capcom picks up right before Ariel's marriage. Ariel learns that Ursula has taken over the sea, endangering all life within it. Ariel stops the wedding, leaps back into the sea, and instantly turns back into a mermaid.

Like most of the Capcom games, The Little Mermaid is a sidescroller. Considering Ariel is a mermaid, there's very little platforming involved. Most of the game involves navigating Ariel through a series of underwater passages and mazes, which is an interesting change from the barrage of platforming elements Capcom built into all of the other Disney games. Occasionally Ariel can leap out of the water and onto dry land to collect items and avoid enemies. Movement on land is difficult, naturally, and is handled by weakly flopping along the surface. It's really strange to see, and often times leaves you wide open to attack by land-based enemies.

While underwater, Ariel can whip her tail and create a squall of bubbles that encases enemies in a portable bubble. The bubble can then be thrown at other enemies to harm them, or chucked into crevices revealing hidden power ups. Crystals can be collected to increase the power and range of the squall, though they're lost whenever Ariel dies.

With that said, death doesn't come easily in The Little Mermaid. The game is extremely easy, and experienced gamers may only die once or twice during the entire game. The game is also short-only five stages long-and could easily be beaten within much effort. Although it doesn't make much difference now, it's scary to imagine paying $50 back in the 90s for a game this short and easy. On the other hand, it was probably meant for younger kids and other more inexperienced gamers, and coming from that viewpoint, it's a pretty fun game.

The Little Mermaid also doesn't look as good as it could. Many of the backgrounds are barren, while the actual stage itself is boring. It would have taken very little effort to add something-either fish or plant life- to the backgrounds and stages. The level designs are bland as well. Each stage involves swimming around boxes or up passageways while avoiding an occasional murderous guppy. To its credit, the boss fights are more interesting than the ones in The Rescue Rangers, but that's not saying much.

Like the Talespin port, the Game Boy version of The Little Mermaid does nothing to improve upon or change from the console edition. The graphics and backgrounds are slightly weaker, which is to be expected from the Game Boy. Aside from that, there are no changes to the stage layout, no new items, and no remixed music. To its credit, the music is almost identical to the NES version, which is somewhat impressive. Cheap gamers back in the day could have purchased the Game Boy version and not lost out on any gameplay the NES version offered.

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The Little Mermaid (NES)

The Little Mermaid (NES)

The Little Mermaid (NES)


View all "The Little Mermaid" items on eBay

Additional Screenshots


Other Versions: Ariel: The Little Mermaid - Genesis, Game Gear, Sega Master System (1991)

There were several other Little Mermaid games released down the line for the Game Boy, PlayStation and Nintendo DS, most of them based on those decrepit straight to DVD movies. There was also a digital storybook released around for the PC. However, the only other tie-in to the original movie was produced by Sega, for the Genesis, Game Gear, and Sega Master System.

The Genesis version was developed by Blue Sky Software, who also did the Jurassic Park games for the system. Your goal, as either Ariel or Triton, is to search an area to find all of the cursed mermen, before fighting a boss. Both characters have some weak weapons to use (like little glowing bursts or song notes) but can call on their aquatic friends for backup. You'll also find keys to open doors or treasure chests, and money, which can be used to buy power-ups from Scuttle the seagull. The controls are a bit sluggish, as your characters handle a bit like Ecco the Dolphin, and the choppy scrolling and pervasive slowdown are pretty annoying. Add this to the fact that you need to access the map screen every few seconds to find your goals, and it gets tedious really quickly. It's only four levels, and not terribly difficult either.

A Game Gear version was also released, which is pretty much the same concept, but scaled down. The levels aren't quite as bad, but there's no map either. The action is even more sluggish in this one, and is virtually unplayable. This version was also converter to the Sega Master System for Brazilian release. So even though the Capcom version is more straightforward, it's a much better game than any of the Sega renditions.

Ariel: The Little Mermaid (Genesis)

Ariel: The Little Mermaid (SMS)


Darkwing Duck - NES, Game Boy (1992)

American NES Cover

Drake Mallard, average citizen by day and crime fighting Darkwing at night, acts as St. Canard's heroic vigilante. Upon learning of the criminal organization F.O.W.L's intention of taking over the city, Darkwing rushes to the scene, intent on foiling F.O.W.L.

Capcom's NES rendition of Darkwing Duck is pretty straightforward - it's basically Mega Man with some new graphics and some gameplay tweaks. You'll find similarities in the level design and even some enemies, like caped ducks who act almost exactly like Sniper Joe from the Mega Man games, hiding behind a shield and only lowering it to attack. You can even choose the order to tackle the levels, although there's only six versus the usual eight. You need to beat the first set of three before moving onto the second. The final level is also only a single stage. Many of the levels have hooks you can jump on, which also act as switches for certain platforms. You can also press Up to block certain projectiles, and, unlike Mega Man, Darkwing can actually duck! The end level bad guys, including Quackerjack, Megavolt, Bushroot, Moliarty, Liquidator, Wolfduck, and Steelbeak, are also a bit more involving than the usual Mega Man boss fights, usually mixing some platforming elements.

There are some annoying quirks though. For some reason, Darkwing can't move while firing, resulting in situations where you're pinned down by multiple enemies, when you should just be able to blast through them. You can't fire when you use your cape, leading to many situations where you try to shoot but won't, usually when you're jumping. The controls just don't feel as precise as they should. Cheap enemy placement is also an issue. Many enemies will suddenly appear off screen after completing a tough jump and plow into you. Your life meter is also pretty limited, as you can only take four hits, but at least life power-ups are common.

Many of the powerups are hardly useful. Darkwing can collect canisters of gas, each with their own abilities. Some produce arrows that can be used as makeshift platforms, while others create bullets that travel along the ground. While the arrow would normally be useful, it eats up a lot of ammo. Many areas that require use of the arrow allow for very little error, so if you screw up the placement once or twice you're out of luck. The ground gas is of very limited use, as it's often easier to just crouch down and shoot enemies that require it.

The graphics are passable. The enemies are fairly detailed and the backgrounds look nice, but considering this is a late generation NES title, they're nothing to write home about. The sound effects, on the other hand, are terrible. Dialogue creates awful screeching beeps-the kind often found in low-budget unlicensed games. All the other sound effects, from shooting, getting hit, grappling, and dying, are quite dull. At least the music is quality Capcom.

Darkwing Duck

Darkwing Duck is technically a fairly solid game, and it's still enjoyable, but one just can't help but shake the feeling that you're just playing Mega Man, except not quite as good. As far as clones go, at least it's better than The Krion Conquest. This game was only released in North America and Europe.

Like DuckTales, a beta version of Darkwing Duck was released on the internet. Much of the game is the same, save for a few minor differences later on in the game. The Moliarity boss fight starts off with all three flamethrowers active, unlike the final where one is broken. Moliarty only hurls hammers while he's fixing the flamethrowers in the beta, whereas he only chucks them when all the flamethrowers are active in the final. Megavolt, the boss of the wharf level, is twice as fast in the beta, and he also doesn't fire a ball of lightning on the floor as he does in the final.

Several graphical changes were made as well. The backgrounds for the bonus stages were changed between versions, and F.O.W.L. was fingered as the thieves in the first bonus stage in the beta. The hawks in the forest stage were previously owls in the beta. The lights on Steelbeak's canopy were not present in the beta version, either. The platforms in the wharf level had spikes on top of them in the beta, and you could also hang on them. They were changed to slabs of stone in the final. Strangely, Darkwing's gas gun bullets were changed in the final to appear more like fireballs than gas clouds.

The Game Boy version of Darkwing Duck is the final port of the NES Disney games, and is nearly identical to the console. Despite the obvious color degradation, the graphics are nearly the same, experiencing slight changes to the sprites and loss of background detail. The music is practically the same, and the dialogue sound effect was entirely changed, mercifully. The cheap enemy placement has also been removed, and in some cases the positions of enemies have been shuffled around. The stages have been condensed, which makes for a more action-packed game. The NES version had a number of areas full of dead space, so this small revision makes the game a little more enjoyable.

Jumping is more difficult than in the original. Unlike the NES game, if the jump button is released, Darkwing immediately plummets to the ground. While it's not difficult to just hold the jump button, it can be confusing to those used to the console version. The height of Darkwing's jumps has also been reduced, most likely because of the lower screen size. Some platforming sections are more difficult because of this, often requiring you to get to the absolute edge of a platform before jumping. Also, in the NES version, you couldn't fire if you put up your cape. This was fixed in the Gameboy version. Despite some of these problems, the port is superior to the console version in some cases. Once again, however, there's no huge reason to play the Game Boy version over the NES today.

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Darkwing Duck (NES)

Darkwing Duck (NES)

Darkwing Duck (NES)

Darkwing Duck (NES)

Darkwing Duck (Game Boy)

Darkwing Duck (Game Boy)


Comparison Screenshots - Beta


Other Versions: Darkwing Duck - TurboGrafx-16 (1990)

If you thought the TG-16 version of Talespin was bad, you haven't seen anything. Darkwing Duck is yet another one of very few North American exclusive titles for the system, and was developed by Interactive Designs. It's another tragically bad sidescrolling shooter, with extremely poor level design and generally glitch programming. Much like the NES game, you can choose from a variety of villains to fight, including Megavolt, Tuskerninni, and Moliarty, before going up against Steelbeak. The problem is, you have extremely limited ammo. As in, each ammo pick-up gives you only a few shots. Furthermore, these don't even kill enemies - even though each gas pellet is supposed to have different effects, they don't appear to do much of anything. You're supposed to jump on their heads, but that rarely works in practice. As a result, you're usually defenseless through each terribly constructed, poorly programmed level. The sprites are pretty decent, when they're not in motion, but that's the only positive of this huge trainwreck.

Darkwing Duck (TurboGrafx-16)


Adventures in the Magic Kingdom - NES (1990)

American NES Cover

Capcom has been very careful about making games that promote popular Disney movies and animation series. In another unusual move, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom promotes the Disney theme park in Florida.

As a cowboy hat-wearing child, who's completely unrelated to anything Disney, you explore the Magic Kingdom theme park searching for silver keys. There are six keys, lost as a result of Goofy's idiocy, and when they have all been found can be used to unlock the Enchanted Castle. The goal is to find Mickey, apparently, even though he introduces each of the attractions. There are five attractions that can be entered, from The Pirates of the Caribbean to Space Mountain, all of which are accessed from a main square reminiscent of RPG town. Several park-goers will ask you trivia questions related to Walt Disney's creations. Answering correctly will grant access to the park, while another series of questions leads to one of the lost keys. Some of them are easy, but others are relatively obscure, like asking about specific members of the early Mickey Mouse club.

Unfortunately, none of the attractions are any fun. Each one is its own self-contained mini-game, and more often than not the controls are terrible. The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean zones are side scrolling platformers swarming with enemies. Barrels can be used to mow down pirates in the Caribbean area, but you don't actually get a weapon that you can freely use until the very end of the stage. This leads to a lot of cheap hits that you can't do anything about, which is exacerbated by sparse amounts of barrels. The Haunted Mansion is a bit easier in that you can hurl candles that you find lying around at ghosts and zombies. They're in limited supply though, and you need to keep grabbing ones off the wall to keep them replenished. Even still, the platforming areas leave little room for error, and it's even possible to smack your head against a moving platform and fall into a pit. There aren't any checkpoints either, requiring you to start the level from scratch if you die.

Space Mountain is a strange on-rails first person shooter mixed with quick time event sequences. You have to shoot down oncoming space ships and missiles before they smash into you while making sudden random changes in the ship's direction. Failure to change direction when the game prompts you damages the ship and forces you to repeat the sequence. There's not much to the game besides frantically shooting at things and changing directions, and the graphics aren't much to look at. Mercifully, Space Mountain is short, but because of the rapid string of QTE-style sequences there's a good chance you'll get killed and have to play from the very beginning several times. Space Mountain is probably one of the most tolerable attractions, but it still isn't fun.

Big Thunder Mountain and Race Autopia are the final two attractions, and are both racing games. Autopia is a traditional overhead racer, vaguely similar to Bump 'n' Jump, complete with suicidal rival karts, broken bridges, and bottomless pits. Incidentally, the main goal of Autopia is to simply survive and get to the end of the track before time runs out. The stiff controls are the main enemy, making it very difficult to avoid careening into walls or other karts. While crashing doesn't kill you, it severely reduces your speed. If your speed isn't high enough when you need to jump over a chasm, you're out of luck. Enjoy getting thrown back to the beginning of the race. Hopefully the real Autopia was more fun and less deadly.

Big Thunder Mountain only lasts about a minute and is especially unsatisfying. The main goal is to race an entire train down the mountain, evading boulders lying on the tracks while trying to avoid pathways that lead to certain death. The major problem is that you can't see far ahead enough to determine which track is the correct one, resulting in the game being nothing more than a crapshoot. It's a good thing that it's short, considering the enormous amount of luck and memorization that would be required if it was longer.

Unlike most of the other Disney games, there's no redeeming value to Adventures in the Magic Kingdom. One can see how it was meant for kids, but the frustrating side scrolling levels make it very off putting. It really just feels like an extended advertisement to convince kids to go to the real Magic Kingdom. Oddly enough, this game was only released in North America and Europe, with no Japanese release, even though there is a Disneyland in Tokyo.

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Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)


Additional Screenshots


Capcom kept the Disney license for several Super Nintendo titles, publishing several excellent titles like the three Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse titles (which were later ported to the Game Boy Advance), Aladdin, Bonkers, and Goof Troop. Other Disney related titles were published Virgin (Aladdin) and Sony Interactive (Mickey Mania).

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES)


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<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Mickey Mousecapade

Page 2:
DuckTales
DuckTales 2

Page 3:
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2
TaleSpin

Page 4:
The Little Mermaid
Darkwing Duck
Adventures in the Magic Kingdom

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