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The Little Mermaid (NES) artwork

The Little Mermaid (NES) review


"“The Little Mermaid” is an amiable little game, very well suited to youngsters who enjoyed the 1989 Disney classic. Its developer is Capcom, who worked on other great 8-bit Disney games like “Duck Tales” and “Darkwing Duck.” In ranking “Mermaid” with the rest of the Capcom/Disney canon, I would say it’s about as good as “Adventures in the Magic Kingdom” but below “Darkwing” and “Tales.” It sure beats “Barbie.” "



“The Little Mermaid” is an amiable little game, very well suited to youngsters who enjoyed the 1989 Disney classic. Its developer is Capcom, who worked on other great 8-bit Disney games like “Duck Tales” and “Darkwing Duck.” In ranking “Mermaid” with the rest of the Capcom/Disney canon, I would say it’s about as good as “Adventures in the Magic Kingdom” but below “Darkwing” and “Tales.” It sure beats “Barbie.”

This is a side-scrolling action/adventure game. I don’t have to tell you that it primarily takes place “under the sea,” but it’s worth mentioning that there are some spots where Ariel finds herself “a fish out of water.” You can move in eight directions and pick stuff up, which can be thrown at enemies. Ariel can also flutter her tail to create bubbles that trap enemies. These en-bubbled enemies can then be grabbed and, you guessed it, thrown at other enemies. What were you expecting, rocket science?

Each of the five levels have secrets and treasures to be sought out by curious gamers. Ariel’s tail can kick up sand, sometimes revealing “whosits and wotsits galore,” which add to your point tally when you clear each stage. Why do you want more points? 1UPs and bragging rights of course. There are also little nooks that cough up goodies when you hurl stuff into them. The more obvious points of interests are the giant treasure chests scattered across each level, and inside these are red and blue orbs. The red orbs make Ariel more powerful, and the blue ones let her attacks travel farther. When Ariel is really powerful, she can push boulders and barrels to acquire more treasures and items.

(HINT: Sea-shells are sturdier than enemies trapped in bubbles, so they can easily bust open treasure boxes. Just thought you'd like to know.)

The sea witch Ursula has dispatched all sorts of undersea ne’er-do-wells to intimidate Ariel. These include ill-tempered guppies, spitting octopi, seahorses, slumbering fatty fish that exhale tinier ones and crafty fish that hide beneath sand. (The tell-tale sign: their beady eyes peeking from underneath.) The big guns are reserved for the end of each level, as you’d expect. The first boss is that scary shark that chased Ariel and her friend Flounder in the movie. The second boss, er, bosses are Ursula’s right-hand eels Flotsam and Jetsam. They’re quite the nasty combination. There’s also a big walrus that lurks on a couple of glaciers above the water, and a seahorse that uses a horn to command a pair of cannons on a sunken ship. None of these bosses are very bright because they summon lots of fish for Ariel to trap and throw at them, but if they didn’t we wouldn’t be able to finish the game.

There are neat gimmicks here and there like slippery icy surfaces, undersea volcanoes and “tricky” mazes. Kids might find “The Little Mermaid” an epic undertaking for their developing skills, and adults might find it a charming little adventure. You might laugh at the shoddy cinema scenes or tap your feet to the catchy music. What you won’t be doing is throwing your controller in frustration or hurling accusations of foul play at the computer. The most frustrating thing about “The Little Mermaid” is when you lose your red and blue orb power-ups after losing a life, but the game doesn’t become that much harder when they’re gone. This software is assigned to the purpose of a jovial action-adventure, and that is no more and no less what it delivers.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by joseph_valencia (July 11, 2009)

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