Gimmick! - One Platformer to Rule Them All
Oh my gosh... have you played "Gimmick!"? This game... it's unlike any other game on the nes. I'll go out on a limb and say that it is definitely the most ambitious title on the nes that I have ever played. It's an extremely solid action-platformer that constantly manages to impress the player with its sound, graphics, enemy ai, and even PHYSICS! Yes, this game has some AWESOME physics! I really don't understand how this game is as good as it is! The power that this game sports seems completely non nes-like. The game was released in 1992 in Japan and in 1993 in Scandinavia by Sunsoft. It was released in the waning days of the NES and, because of that, it isn't very popular. Only in recent years has it started to gain some momentum in the gaming community. Anyway, it's time to review this extravagant gem that, unfortunately, never made it to the US shores.
Graphics-10- I think the graphics in this game are wonderful. The colors are extremely diverse, and the sprites are very adorable. Unless you have a heart of rocks, it's impossible to avoid the fact that the sprites in this game are so cute. Oh, and there is also this one spot in the game where you just walk through a tube underwater. There is massive significance in me bringing this up because it is very graphically advanced, especially by nes standards. As you walk through this tube, you can look through the windows of the tube. You can also see fish swimming in different directions. It's kinda hard to explain with words, so I included a picture for you to see below. Every time I play this game, I can't help but sit in awe at how ambitious this game is. Like I said earlier, I don't understand how this game manages to do so much given the nes's limitations.
Sound-10-This game is deserving of no less than a 10. If I could rate this any higher, I'd go as far as giving it a 15! This game literally has sound unlike anything else on the nes. Sunsoft implemented a special sound chip in the cartridges of this game that opened 2 more sound channels, effectively giving the nes 6 sound channels instead of 4. This allowed for much better sound and Sunsoft abused this sound chip to it's fullest extent. One of the sound channels seems to contain a slap bass instrument that makes the game sound almost Genesis-like. The soundtrack is absolutely beautiful. Every song in this game is lovable; even the stage select music and intro music. Every stage contains a unique song that perfectly fits its atmosphere. Not only does the music impress, but the sound design in general is also extremely impressive. Something that really blew me out of the water was in the second stage. There is a screen where you can see birds flying in the distance and if you listen close you can actually hear them! Incredible! To anyone out there that is too young to understand why this impresses me so much, I'm very sorry that I cannot share my happiness with you. Go out and play some retro games! Aside from the bird sounds, the other sound effects are very good as well. However, there really aren't that many sounds in the game. The real shining spot of the game in terms of sound is the music. With that said, I'm moving on to the next part of the review.
Addictiveness-10- Gimmick! Is a very addictive game. It features 2 possible endings, the good ending being the hardest to earn. The game's fast pace and high difficulty make this game one will undoubtedly leave you coming back to play the game again and again. Honestly, I don't think there's a whole lot that needs to be said about the addictiveness of this game. It's more of a "See it to believe it" type of thing.
Story-2- The story is very simple. A girl gets a toy Gimmick doll for her birthday and it becomes her favorite toy. The other toys get jealous and capture the girl, taking her to their world of toys. It's up to Gimmick to save her. That's all their is to it. This game doesn't need a complex story to succeed; it makes up for the story in gameplay, sound and graphics. It's simple, yes, but it gets the point through as to what Gimmick's goal is.
Depth-10- Oh boy, does this game deserve a 10! If you have been paying attention, you'll remember that I mentioned multiple endings. Yes, this game has 2 possible endings: a good and bad ending. I won't explain them to prevent spoilers, but you should probably be able to guess what they are anyway. Multiple endings is a big deal on the NES. Not very many games had them. I can recall Duck Tales being one of them, however. I'll explain how to get either ending in the next section. Every level is scattered with power-ups that Gimmick can use to his advantage. These power-ups include bombs, a fireball, and special potions. Gimmick has an inventory that can hold up to 3 items that can be used at any time. These power-ups will stay in your inventory throughout every level as long as you haven't used them. There is also a special treasure in every level. I'll explain those in the "Difficulty" section. The only minor issue I have with this game is the length. There are only 7 levels. However, these levels are each increasingly difficult and they are also somewhat long. There is also a boss at the end of EVERY level. No in-betweens to prepare you for the boss. I guess those 3 things make up for the fact that there really aren't that many levels.
Difficulty-7- "Gimmick!" is not an easy game. It's not on the levels of, say, Ninja Gaiden 3 but it is definitely as hard as the nes Megaman games, if not harder. The first level is sort of easy but the next levels after that become increasingly difficult. You will probably find yourself struggling to NOT throw your controller or bash your keyboard. (If you are using an emulator.) There are very many enemies on screen, and Gimmick can only throw one projectile at a time. He must wait for the projectile to disintegrate before throwing another one. This actually isn't necessarily a bad thing, actually. Gimmick! has some impressive physics. When you throw a star, (the projectile in this game) it will shoot towards the ground and bounce in a realistic manner, gradually losing momentum as it bounces on walls and platforms. This allows for some well placed shots and even a fast transportation method as Gimmick can ride on these stars. The developers took advantage of this, however. There are some puzzles in the game that make the star crucial to your success. Learning how to ride the star with precision is a must if you want to succeed in this game. Another strategic programming feat that Sunsoft provided was the ability to gain momentum. If Gimmick encounters a downward slope, he can walk down it and gain speed. This allows him to jump much farther and faster. If Gimmick tries to scale an upward slope without much speed, he will just slide down. These are extremely impressive feats by nes standards. These methods of travel also provide a saving grace for the high difficulty in this game. Remember when I mentioned the special treasures in each level? If you want the good ending, these are a must to obtain. Each level has a treasure that must be obtained with special methods, with several requiring use of the star. One level contains a jump puzzle that can be very hard to maneuver as positioning the star correctly is a necessity. Obtaining these treasures can be a real pain. To make matters worse, here's something that will really bite you in the butt. "Gimmick!" offers infinite continues. However, if you even have to use ONE continue, your chances of getting the good ending are gone. Even if you get every special treasure, you will not get the good ending if you use a continue. This one aspect makes the game that much harder. Lastly, I'd like to talk about the ai in this game. The enemies aren't just your standard run-of-the-mill bad guys that follow a strict path. The enemies in this game actually seem to be... well.. smart! Some will back away and jump to avoid you. Others will give chase but will turn tail if the situation gets too tough for them. Enemies will try to avoid spike traps and other fatal happenings. The ai in this game is definitely better than anything else on the nes. As you will see if you play this game, it's another aspect that serves to make the game even more difficult. I don't think the difficulty is quite worth a 10, but it's definitely close.
Time to wrap up this review. To sum it up in a sentence; it's a solid marvel of nes technology but it's also super hard. I seriously recommend this to ANY fan of the platformer genre. It's hard, but with perseverance and patience you may even get the good ending! Don't be turned off by the difficulty. If you know of this game and you never play it, you've seriously missed out. Give this game a try and you will see why I'm so impressed by it. With that said, I'm out. Until next time,