A rare gem of a platformer.
Taito was one of the big dogs of the NES era, and they pumped out some really good games. Toki, Bubble Bobble, Arkanoid... Some really great classics. But there is one that really flew under the radar... Little Samson.
The story of Little Samson is kind of complex, and kind of convoluted. A dark prince named Ta Keed was freed from his seal during a thunderstorm one night, and like many late 80s/early 90s villains, he began trying to take over the world. The kingdom was under fire, and they sent out for four heroes... These heroes include Samson, the happy-go-lucky little guy that throws bells. Kikira the Dragon, who can fly short distances and power up her fireballs to deal a lot of damage. Gamm the rock lord, who is slow as all hell, but can attack in four directions, can walk on spikes, and takes damage like a freaking tank. And last, but CERTAINLY not least is K.O. the mouse, who can die if an enemy so much as breathes on him. But K.O. cannot be swept under the rug just because of this... He is actually one of the most valuable characters in the game. K.O. uses little white bombs, and can set 3 at a time... These bombs, put simply, are freaking POWERFUL. Bosses go down with just a few hits of these bombs.
But anyway, onto the game itself. It's a unique little platformer, letting you choose between the four characters on the fly. The game starts you off by letting you choose from four stages, all of which are like a warm up and introduction to how each character plays. This was a really good idea on Taito's part, where if they had just thrown all four characters at the player all at once, the trial and error of figuring out who does what could really stammer the gameplay. The game itself is very fluid. Once you get a feel for how each character plays, you can then begin to figure out which character works best for which situation, and 1-Ups and heart containers that give your character more life can sometimes only be acquired by K.O. (narrow corridors) or Gamm (on top of spikes).
The music in this game, while great, gets awfully repetitive. Only in the last few levels does the game have a stage theme. Instead, each individual character has their own theme, which plays whenever you use them, and loops over and over. If you're like me, you'll get tired of the upbeat theme that is attached to Samson pretty damned quick.
My only real complaint about Little Samson is the length. This game is pretty damned short. Since there are two difficulties, and the real ending can only be obtained by completing normal mode, I'd say you could beat this one in a dedicated afternoon. I really wish this game were longer, because I constantly find myself really enjoying this one every time I turn it on.
I think you'll enjoy it too. If you have the extra cash and want a real treasure (and I'm talking like, $150 extra money), pick this up. If you spot it at a thrift store, flea market, or yard sale, don't tell the owner just how much of a rarity this game is, and pay the $10 or so dollars that they want for it.
All in all, Little Samson is a really well balanced and seamlessly crafted platformer that really immerses you into the gameplay. As lame as the story may be... Well... Did we ever really play NES games based on the story? Look at the story of Super Mario Bros. for crying out loud.
I give this game a 4/5. It would have been a 5/5 had the game been longer, and had individual stage themes. This game comes highly recommended!Read full review