|By Dan Liss||Friday, 15 Aug 2008|
Looking back on the days of the NES, one might wonder why a game like Little Samson didn’t break through to the forefront of mainstream games that people are so nostalgic about today. Innovation seems to be deciding factor in which games are successful, and which games fall to the demise of the bargain bin. Well Little Samson is as unique as the most innovative NES games out there, and it is sure not to disappoint.
Little Samson is an action game made by Taitoin the style of Mega Man, yet that’s not to say it’s exclusive to this style, as it incorporates elements from many of the NES classics. The player throughout the game is able to switch between four characters at any time, of which there’s Samson, a well-rounded character with fast shots and the ability to climb walls and ceilings (reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden), a fire-breathing dragon who has the ability to fly by suspending himself midair by holding the jump button, a stone golem who is slow but has a strong short-range punch which can be aimed vertically or horizontally, and a nimble mouse who can jump high and climb on walls and ceilings and the ability to lay bombs.
The game starts out with a level for each of the four characters, after which they meet up to defend the Imperial Forgy from the invasion of Ta-Keed the Prince of Darkness. From here on, the player has the ability to interchange characters at any point, which adds an incredible amount of depth to the game. Strategy comes very much into play as you progress through the levels, as it’s necessary to utilize each characters’ abilities to most efficiently complete the levels and defeat the bosses.
Throughout the levels you will find powerup items, which increase the life bar of the character picking it up. For most situations, Samson seems the best to use for taking out enemies, so it’s advisable to invest the first few powerups on him. Kikira the dragon is great for use in areas with heavy platforming, when that extra time midair can mean the difference between life and death. Gamm the stone golem doesn’t seem to have much use other than occasionally taking out hard to reach enemies and absorbing hits. K.O. the mouse is very useful for taking out enemies that charge at you with bombs. Since the player is able to switch between characters, you may easily switch to a character with full life when one is just about dead.
Once you’re able to determine at which points to utilize each character, you should find yourself blazing through the levels, as the combined life of all four characters gives you many chances to get hit, making the game a bit on the easier side. The difficulty is
perhaps the only real downfall to the game, though the gameplay experience overall makes up for it with pure fun. In spite of this, when you die you will be sent to the very beginning of the level. That’s right, no checkpoints unless you make it to the boss, though with limited lives, you’ll be sent to the beginning of the level, much like Mega Man.
The music in the game is played in a unique way, as each character you switch to has their own theme. This can get repetitive if you focus on one character for too long. Nothing too special or bad about the music in the game, though it’s rather fitting for each characters’ themes.
So if you’re looking for a solid 8-bit action game made by one of NES’ most reputable developers that has plenty of levels and one of the most unique designs that the NES has to offer, then you are in for a real treat. The game’s rarity in this case indeed justifies the price, as Little Samson is one of the best games on the NES, and certainly one of Taito’s top creations.