Wednesday 18 November 2015

Little Samson (NES review)

Developer: Takeru
Publisher: Taito Corporation
Released: 1992

Little Samson is an action-platformer and the only game Takeru developed for the NES.

There's nine levels and your mission is to destroy Ta-Keed, who has escaped from his supernatural prison. Four playable characters are available such as Little Samson who shoots bells and clings onto walls. Kikira the Dragon Lord can temporarily fly as well as breathing fire to hit enemies from distance. Gamm the Rock Lord can cross spikes without taking damage and his powerful punch can extend in all directions. Finally, K.O. The Enchanted Beast can run across water, climb walls and deploy bombs that do massive damage. In some ways the gameplay is similar to Mega Man (1987, NES) except that you can switch between characters at will from the start. This is a lot of fun and helps replayability as the more you play the better understanding you get of what works best for which scenario. The level design is superb and expertly mixes platforming and combat with the strategy of the four characters. There's also a nice blend of vertical and horizontally scrolling areas to keep things fresh and the controls are solid too. Each character starts off with a short health bar but along the way you can pick up Potions that restore it to maximum or Crystal Balls that add two units to your gauge. The game is 'NES hard' but at least your life is restored after each level and there's passwords to continue your progress. The many bosses and sub-bosses are great and usually have multiple forms that include dragons, knights and even the Grim Reaper. The graphics are incredibly detailed with tons of rich textures, smooth animation and the backgrounds are well layered to create a real sense of depth.

Little Samson is one of the best action-platformers on the NES with its smooth gameplay, imaginative level design and awesome boss battles. The ability to switch between characters on the fly is a great idea and the whole package is incredibly well executed and warrants multiple play-throughs.

Random trivia: Upon release the game didn't sell particularly well and is now one of the rarest NES carts in existence.

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