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Nuts & Milk (NES) artwork

Nuts & Milk (NES) review

"Nuts & Milk would be a great name for a buddy cop movie."

Nuts & Milk is the very first ever third-party Famicom game, developed by Hudson and only released in Japan. Featuring a cast of tiny bipedal lumps, Nuts & Milk is the tragic tale of a love triangle involving your player character Milk, his lovely fiancé Yogurt, and the aptly named Nuts, who apparently thinks kidnapping Yogurt is a surefire way to get her to fall in love with him instead.

Nuts & Milk is reminiscent of arcade and early NES platformers such as Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. As Milk, your goal is to avoid the evil Nuts and his gang of identical-looking pals while collecting fruit. Collect all the fruit scattered about each single-screen stage to cause a door on a tiny house near the top of the level to open so you can make your way to it and reunite with your beloved Yogurt.

Milk has a limited but serviceable moveset. He can move from left to right, climb along rope bridges, and jump. Jumping lets him clear small gaps between platforms, which is necessary in order to avoid the lethal water positioned at the bottom of most stages. Milk has no means of attack, and he'll go down from one light brush against Nuts, though he can easily avoid him by jumping over his head (netting himself a few points while he's at it).

Nuts will constantly chase Milk around the screen, but he has a few weaknesses stemming from his crippling stupidity. The stages wrap around, meaning Milk can exit from one edge and appear at on the other side. Nuts doesn't seem to understand how this works, because rather than follow Milk through the edge, he'll just turn around and take the long way to the opposite side. Nuts also has an unfortunate tendency to fall into holes and drown, despite his best efforts to the contrary. He'll quickly re-spawn wherever he was standing at the beginning of the stage, but a brief break from his chase is better than no break at all. Despite having the same moves as Milk, he has apparently never considered jumping to intercept Milk's overhead leaps.

That's not to say Nuts is completely useless. There's strength in numbers, after all, and many stages will pit Milk against two or three identical, equally dumb clones of Nuts, providing a healthy challenge. As Milk, you'll need a good amount of foresight to keep yourself from getting surrounded while you explore each maze-like stage. Stages themselves are pretty straightforward, with interesting layouts despite the limited toolset. They consist entirely of platforms, rope bridges (which can be climbed but not jumped from), and the occasional spring-powered bouncer. With proper (and unforgiving) timing, Milk can spring from a bouncer to jump higher and farther. Milk will gain speed as he falls, and while he won't die when he lands, he will be laid out for a moment, needing to jump to come to his feet. Naturally, this can be hazardous if there are enemies about.

Some stages are designed purely for challenge, while others are designed for style (spelling words such as character names). A few levels may consist almost entirely of rope bridges, meaning you won't be able to jump at all, and some may require perfectly timed hops across multiple bouncers. Bonus stages mix things up even further, being much like regular stages except with moving fruit and a time limit that affects your bonus at the end of the level. Visually, there are only four types of terrain (with the strange “pipes” being functionally identical to the brick paths), and they make use of various colour palettes that change with the stage number. There are 50 levels in all (oddly enough, all of which can be skipped with a press of the select button), before the game loops and starts again. The second time through, a new collectible item will appear, in the form of a tiny helicopter that flies across the stage and can be collected for bonus points, as well as a new enemy, a tiny blimp that flies in a similar fashion but is much more lethal. You can start with Game B (as opposed to the default Game A) to make those additions appear from the beginning.

Nuts & Milk is a relatively obscure but pretty fun little game. The sprites are charming and the music, while limited, is pleasant and not too repetitive. The game could have benefited from a proper two-player simultaneous co-op mode (as opposed to the included alternating two player mode) but it's fine as a single-player experience. There's even a simple level editor, allowing you to edit existing stages or build your own, just for kicks. Nuts & Milk is simply a nice little game, totally worth trying and spending an hour with.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (April 29, 2013)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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