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Finished!! – Mr. Gimmick

System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developer: Sunsoft
Publisher: Sunsoft
Released: 1992 [Reproduction based on prototype]

Completed – May 26, 2014

I first came across this game at the same time I discovered Battle Kid. This cartridge was available (at the time) on the same website as Battle Kid, and never hearing about it before, I decided to investigate. Watching a few YouTube videos discussing the game, I was hooked! It advertised itself as a lost classic with exceptional gameplay, beautiful graphics, and a high level of difficulty. They were singing my song, but I had to check it out for myself to make sure it wasn’t overblown hype.

The green horned Kirby, who apparently is not named Mr. Gimmick, is a toy presented to a little girl on what is presumably her birthday. She grows an instant attachment to the toy, which invokes the wrath of other toys in her toy chest. Pulling a strange version of Toy Story, the jilted toys kidnap the girl and take her to… toy land? I appreciate the opening cut scene being “show not tell,” especially since it was only released in Japan (and I heard parts of Scandinavia), but it raises more questions than it answers. What are they hoping to accomplish in doing this? Why not attack Blobowski instead of the girl? Will there be a Pizza Planet scene?

What is going on?!?

What is going on?!?

Okay, so the plot is pretty lackluster. But playing an NES game for an enthralling plot is like watching football for the enlightening commentary. We want to smash things!! Blip-Blob has a few weapons at his disposal while traveling through the world. The standard attack is a chargeable star that appears above his head. Think of the Pharaoh Shot in Mega Man 4, but without the ability to aim. Or damage enemies through contact while charged. Or fire before it is fully charged. It’s not like the Pharaoh Shot. Sorry.

The star shot is actually pretty cool. Once charged, it will bounce around until it loses its momentum, plowing through enemies to cause damage. The higher the player jumps before launching the assault, the higher the attack will bounce. The physics-based trajectory does add an element of skill in positioning Blob the Builder since he can only fire again once the previous shot has dissipated. To add one more way of making this a great attack, you can ride the star to help with tricky jumps, becoming essential at certain moments in the game. On top of the star attack, Blobington has a fireball, which is a straight shot that destroys practically everything, and a bomb that launches in an arc that deals massive damage. Both are drops found throughout the game, with the bomb holding a great deal of importance throughout the game.

The first stage opens with a few conveyor belts and black blobbies. It is at this time that I need to talk about a few of the intricacies built into Mr. Gimmick. Walking up and down the slopes adds momentum to Blobblin which gives the character weight, a feat not well accomplished in other games at the time. The enemies also appear smarter than your token Goombas, chasing the player relentlessly, interacting with the environment, and even sprouting helicopter blades should the player ignore them for too long. It’s strange and fascinating to see enemy grunts with personality.

Mow them all down!!

Mow them all down!!

Want to know a secret? Remember how I said star jumping is crucial? This is true on the first screen! At the end of the first section is a platform that seems out of place. Using a star to boost him up to it reveals a section above the clouds which has a sparkly plant. Grab it for points (which eventually turn into extra lives) and a surprise…

GimmickSecret

Jim Blob will travel underground in a pretty routine stage that introduces the player to the mechanics of the game. Except for the lift at the midway point. It will drop you like a sack of potatoes into the spikes. Can’t trust no one… The boss is a bigger black blob that shoots little black blobs. What’s funny to note is the boss was one of the toys from the opening cut scene that kidnapped the girl. That was a pretty nice touch they added into the game!

Stage two takes place on a pirate ship. This place has so many awesome secrets, not necessarily needed to beat the stage, but are cool anyway:

  • Flip over the spiny enemies and hop on top of them. They are still moving their feet, which means they will keep trying to kick you off.
  • Down below deck is a black blob without a cannon ball that seems to just sit there. If you pick up the second player’s controller, you can control him in that little area!
  • Move the cannon on the back of the ship to the lower platform and carefully time it so you can jump on one of the cannon balls. Riding this leads to the second treasure.
  • If you speed run the level and make it to the boss early enough, the boss will still be asleep. He can be pushed off the ship to his watery grave.
I tapped my foot to create a rhythm

You will die several times trying this.

Stage three is a wooded area. I hope you saved a bomb since you’ll need it to get the treasure! I absolutely love how as Blobra Steisand is navigating past the waterfall, a gang of four or five of the black blobs will follow, occasionally slipping into the drink. Right after the waterfall is a gross bug that needs to die. Launch a bomb at the jerk and travel down to claim the third treasure (and somehow end up higher than when you started). There are some tricky jumps, such as the logs that fall as soon as you touch them, and the rocks that fall in the cave, which I never successfully avoided all of them. The boss is a crab that shoots energy beams and can only be damaged when out of the water, or with a bomb while in the water. Hitting him while on the slope requires precise movement, especially when trying to avoid his attacks.

We shall be known as the Cult of Blobs!!

We shall be known as the Cult of Blobs!!

Stage four is a desert area, apparently led by King B-Blob on his wicked cool ostrich. There are a lot of Indiana Jones-esque traps, including fire pillars, spike pillars, and a spiked wall closing in behind Han Blobo. It also has an incredibly tricky jump to get to the treasure right before the halfway mark, meaning if you miss it and fall down, you don’t get a second chance. The end boss is a chick that hatches out of an egg, throwing little chicks at you. That just… seems wrong. Halfway through the fight, it will play dead, but come back strong once the player approaches it.

Usurper!!

Usurper!!

Stage five is factory world with several steps to get the treasure. The second screen has a worker that launches rockets. Getting to where he is located has a stockpile of missiles and a lever. Since Blob Dylan cannot be trusted with nuclear explosives, just jump on the lever. The stage itself has mine cart sections, which can be pretty fun. You get chased be another cart with a cannon. If you manage to hijack it, you get the awesome power of the cannon! Conveyor belts adorn the next section, with one pool empty. This is what the lever from earlier accomplished. Dive into the emptiness to reveal another section. Go left for a stockpile of bombs and a trick for infinite lives (pushing two of the same items together creates a 1-Up. You can get two, kill yourself, and repeat the process). The fourth treasure requires precise jumping on conveyor belts as well as a well-timed star jump. This trolley does take you back safely, unlike the first stage.

The ability to swim would be super helpful right about now...

The ability to swim would be super helpful right about now…

The boss requires special mention. A black blob in a mobile glass box rains lasers down while sweeping the stage. Each hit increases the frequency of laser shots until it is a veritable wall of pain. Make sure you have a potion to restore health, since that is the only way I could withstand the barrage! As if beating this turd weren’t enough, a mech that shoots bullets and missiles takes over after the first part of the fight. The jerk-in-the-box even comes to watch!! This portion can give you issues, but careful timing will prevail.

What exactly is your job title?

What function does that machine serve?

Stage six is the obligatory clock tower. It starts with a mini boss fight of two hamsters with shields and pikes. These guys are tough, since they keep their distance and use their shields to block the star attack. Once they are gone, it’s time to navigate spinning gears. A favorite pastime for me is to fake out the archers since they stand still while firing, causing them to drop from their gear perches. Classic. This treasure is found in a small opening at the top of a single screen accessible through a star jump. Use the spring to bomb the cannon ball launcher, and then carefully time it so that Blobert rides a ball and jumps to the opening on the left. This will net the final treasure!

Not wanted, either.

Not the treasure.

The final boss has three forms. The first throws bubbles that, if touched, will halt the star attack. The ghost hides out at the top of the screen until Blob Marley is bubbled. Best strategy is to through a star, get bubbled, and hope the star makes contact as it bounces around. The second cloaked beast throws icicles from the sky. Not as hard if you’re careful. The third combines the two and can be a real pain. Patience and waiting for an opening will lead to victory and a deader ghost!

Yeah, I wanna play Bubble Bobble now...

Triumphant, our hero stands… alone. Congratulations, you just got the bad ending! Unless…

Overall, I would describe this game as “delightful.” Being a Sunsoft game, the music is good, though not as memorable as, say, Journey to Silius and Batman. The controls are spot-on, adding to the immersion of the player into the game world. I was able to achieve the true ending my first time playing it, and that is on a reproduction that starts off with three lives (I heard some start with nine). I could see some players struggling with the game, but those that grew up on NES games like Ninja Gaiden shouldn’t find this too difficult.

For those looking to grab a copy, do yourself a favor and go for the reproduction cartridge, found on several websites throughout the Internet (Retrozone no longer offers it, unfortunately). Whereas I would like the original Famicom game for my collection, it goes for several hundred dollars on the secondhand market, so… no.

Recommendation

This is an enjoyable game with good music, excellent gameplay, and colorful art. Reading information online, one would think this could take the crown from the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3, but this is definitely not the case. It is still worth a play, and will provide plenty of enjoyment and entertainment for those looking to play a game absent from their childhood.

My arbitrary score based on nothing is 6 out of 8.

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