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I've beaten this game a couple of times before, once when I was young and once when I was older, but I question how it did it those times after playing it recently. This game is actually pretty difficult in some cheap ways that feel really difficult to overcome. While some stages aren't that bad others are extremely tough to overcome due to enemy placement and how they respawn. The most notorious of the bunch are the descending dandelion seed things that follow you and respawn indefinitely. The creatures you control are generally not up to the task of fighting off enemies since many take several hits and your attacks only hit one enemy at a time.
The mouse seems to be the worst of the bunch with the hammer being almost absolutely useless for attacking enemies while the mouse seems to have to put up with onslaughts of enemies when trying to get where you need to go. Another big problem is that many enemies can attack you before you can see them as well. Nightmare Land is just a gauntlet of tough platforming where it's difficult to avoid hits at parts.
Don't get me wrong the game still has plenty of great elements but the difficulty certainly keeps it from being higher on the list of NES classics. The graphics, music, and story are all charming and the gameplay revolving around using different creatures to reach certain areas is unique but I feel like the game was lacking polish that made other Capcom games so great.