I’m sure this game will some day be remastered, rebooted, or revived to some sort of modern platform. With DuckTales: Remastered being released for free to PS+ members, I’ve finally decided to see their modern take on it. It’s enjoyable, and there are plenty of nods to the original. But when it comes to nostalgia, it’s always the little quirks and imperfections that bring memories rushing back. It would be silly though to assume that game was meant for people like me who played the original so many years years ago. I like to think that limitations on NES games were part of what made them classics, but “quirks” for me are impediments for the kids of today. I was willing to overlook them, because it was the best games had to offer at the time. We don’t have those limitations today, and younger audiences know it.
Little Nemo may be a property with little traction with today’s audiences. Originating with a comic strip that itself ended almost 90 years ago, it’s surprising to me that Nemo found the success it did on the NES 24 years ago. I certainly had no reference point to the comic strip, but it’s fair to say that fantastic spirit of the world of Little Nemo shaped the world of the game. It only had eight levels, and relied on making you replay them as you got game overs, but for myself those levels were so refined as to make a long lasting impression. Each level distinct from the last, carrying a memorable soundtrack, and leaving plenty of nooks and crannies to be explored. They are classic spaces in my mind. It was at a time where Mario sported platforming stunts, and Sonic offered flash and speed. Meanwhile, Nemo was a plodding, almost puzzle-game, explorer.
It was a relatively simple game. Nemo’s not very capable of navigating the levels himself. He must coax animals into assisting them by offering them candy. And then he…crawls inside them? (Remember what I was saying about quirks?) No matter, it’s a small part of the emerging Metroidvania genre of titles that opens up levels to you as you obtained new abilities. It’s not as sprawling as a Metroid or Castlevania, but every inch of the screen was rewarding. “Remastering” these games, no matter how well intentioned, no matter how much attention is given to detail, robs them of their original voice. I’m comfortable leaving this game right where it is in history and letting younger audiences enjoy it, warts and all, or watch over someone else’s shoulder via a “let’s play.”