Review by Bridgemanz
Darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from me!
Ahh, The Little Mermaid for the Genesis / Megadrive. When I was a kid, I loved the Disney movie, and I was overjoyed with this game. I thought it was slightly difficult, but I liked the challenge. Anyway, let's get this on.
First things first, the story. It's basically derived from the Little Mermaid movie, but a bit more simple. Ursula has turned all the merpeople into these worm-like creatures also seen in the movie. She's also turned either Triton or Ariel into that, it depends on which character you choose to play with. If you choose Triton, you rescue Ariel, and vica versa.
The graphics are pretty good. All the classic characters are in here looking like they do in the movie: Ariel, Triton, Scuttle, Sebastian, Flounder, Ursula, even Ursula's pesky eel helpers. The levels are really well done. It's kind of a maze type game, and the level layouts really give you the feeling that you're underwater. The animations look pretty good too.
One thing about the box art of this game though, what the hell did they do to Ursula's face? It looks completely different from the movie and just looks awkward.
Like I said, this game is a classic maze type game. There is no exit, instead you leave the level after you find all the merpeople. By swimming over them, they turn back to normal, or you can shoot them with your weapon to do that. There's also a map marking all the merpeople to make it easier. Some merpeople are stuck behind obstacles. You can call Flounder to remove these obstacles. You can also call Sebastian to help you defeat enemies, and you can call a little shark-like fish to uncover treasure for you.
You can choose to play as either Ariel or Triton. Ariel uses her voice as a weapon, while Triton uses his classic trident. Both play basically the same, and neither of them has an advantage over the other. It's purely there to give the player some choice. I like to play as Triton simply because he kicks ass.
Throughout the levels there are loads of enemies, you can't really "kill" them but rather stun them with your weapons so they go away. They will return however when you leave the place and come back. You can either fire at them with your "normal" shot or with your "super" shot. The last one is more powerful but it has a limited amount of ammo, while the normal one can be used without limitations. Overall I'd say it's best to save up your super shots for when you finish the level...
Because then you get a bossfight. There are four levels in total, the reef, the sunken ships, the sunken city, and Ursula's lair. After each level you have to fight a boss, the last boss being Ursula. Overall, the bosses aren't too hard, and if you have a lot of super shots it can be quite easy. You can try to avoid being hit, but most of the times it's kind of difficult.
However, if you lose all your health in the game, you lose a life, but there are no other penalties. Your health instantly refills and you get to keep playing without being placed back in a level or something. If you save up a few lives, you'll be guaranteed to defeat the bosses.
There's also a Scuttle shop in every level. Here you can buy ammo for your super shot, charges for your fish friends, keys, life, health, everything. The shops are not marked on the map, but they aren't too hard to find. There are some treasure boxes hidden throughout the level, and some oysters give you pearls. You can use these to buy stuff from Scuttle.
As for the controls, they're a bit dodgy. Not too bad, but it can be hard sometimes to go into the direction you want to, especially in narrow passages. Not too bad, but could have used some work.
The title screen music is the classic tune of Under the Sea. Before I go any further, I hear a lot of people complaining about the loud high-pitched sounds throughout this tune, but I just want to say that that's on the Gens emulator only. If you play the game on the actual console, the music sounds smooth. The music in the levels aren't from the movie, but still good enough. They're all happy kind of tunes fitting the underwater mood. The sound effects are alright, everything sounds like it should.
This game is fun to play once in a while. I still play it every now and then for old time's sake, simply because I'm a fan of The Little Mermaid and I'm a fan of this game. There's only four levels, but they're pretty long. Still, you can finish this game in an hour or so, maybe two. The controls can get a little tedious.
Well, the only bad thing about this game is really the controls. They aren't impossible, but they really could have used work. Aside from that, the graphics, the music, the levels... Everything looks and sounds good. I really love how this game makes you feel underwater because of the dynamic backgrounds. I love this game, and I give it a 9.
Product Release: Disney's Ariel: The Little Mermaid (EU, 12/31/92)
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