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Willow (NES) artwork

Willow (NES) review

"Little man with a mean sword"

Willow came to be a great movie in its time, and like many movies, it spawned videogames that were adapted in various systems. The NES version of said movie came in the footsteps of the Legend of Zelda games, collecting weapons, artifacts, and meeting other characters that would lend a hand in some way to defeat the forces of evil.

Even though this game was not dead on the events of the movie, it was still an impressive achievement by Capcom in my opinion, albeit a difficult one to complete. One thing is for sure however...Willow's cheerful smile is kind of creepy, especially when he mows down hordes of evil critters that are on his way. Willow is chosen from his village to find Fin Raziel, one of the people who can stand against Bavmorda and prevent her from kidnapping the future queen of the realm. To do this, he must travel across a vast world and gather important elements which will aid him in the struggle against the forces of evil. Pretty much an average RPG story to get things going.

The control scheme here is quite different and useful, since you can move Willow in eight directions allowing an easy way to avoid difficult confrontations. The "autoshield" reminiscent of Zelda games is also a life-saver, being that enemies will come from all directions at times, and some of them will spit nasty things faster than your little body can dodge. Although some of the enemy projectiles cannot be shielded against, it is still a useful feature.

Willow will be slow with a new blade at first, but once he earns enough experience points, he can swing steel like no other. Very useful since one mode of attack can fend off multiple foes. Even with all these advantages, Willow is still submissive to quick attacks, and cheap deaths thanks to stronger enemies which appear in different parts of the world he walks by. One moment you fend against weak adversaries, the next scene you fight against an opponent which can easily drown away most of your hit points in the same part where you travel. There is also that little thing about leveling up, it takes a long time to reach a level which is at times required to advance further, and most of the time, it takes dying quite a lot to reach said level. The fact that passwords are used instead of a save feature is helpful, if not repetitive like most password-based games.

Replenishing your hit points require that you visit some sections of the game to be completely healed and replenishing your magic points, being that health/magic items are almost non-existent. Although you can get certain items to exchange health for a hefty amount of MP here and there. Some enemies will drop "health pellets", but encounters are connected after traveling far into the game, making it a pain when you are in dire need of help before a swarm of floating skulls do you in.

Cheerful tunes which turn into dreaded melodies whenever an encounter occurs, and haunting tracks in dungeons never get tiresome. The graphics are sharp and clear, even though some enemies are just colored differently to point their strength. The moving scenery during enemy confrontations is a very nice touch. It is a bit of a shame that most of the sections of the world Willow are in look the same, including the dungeons and mountainous areas. It gets monotonous from time to time.

Even with the pretty graphics and cheery music, walking through the entire thing is very tiresome, being that, unlike The Legend of Zelda, you never go back to the same place more than once, and everything is pretty straightforward. Walking all the way from point A to point Z is pretty frustrating to even try it a second time. Once you've beat it, there is not much motivation to pick it up again.

It is a gem to play, at least once, but afterwards you just don't want to deal with it again, keeping it for being an adaptation from a great movie might be a good reason to own it, being that this adaptation spins it off in an interesting manner. You meet characters and events you never thought would be in the movie, but that might be compensating for the long, arduous travel you must endure till the end of the


CptRetroBlue's avatar
Community review by CptRetroBlue (November 19, 2018)

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