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Disney’s Ariel the Little Mermaid

Genre: Action Developer: BlueSky Software Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1992

I’ve owned The Little Mermaid for ever now and decided that I needed to play it finally and just grabbed it off the shelf on a whim since it’s one of the few Disney games that Sega-16 doesn’t have any coverage for yet. I thought I would be able to expect a nice game since it was based off a decent kids’ movie and because it was also published by Sega, which I also thought did the programming as well. Once I got to the title screen I realized that it was done by a company called Blue Sky Software, about which I also knew nothing. It seemed like a decent game for the first stage or so, but then I realized just how bad this game really is and how bad my experience was. Actually, bad doesn’t even begin to describe it. Maybe a better word to use would be “atrocious” as nothing in this game really manages to work right. Let’s take a deeper look at just why you should write this one off your list of Disney games to play.

The first thing that I could start out by saying is that this title does little to nothing to even try to follow the movie it’s based off of. Once you fire it up you can go into the options and choose a difficulty, I chose easy since the game is so cheap. On easy you can’t die; your health is simply refilled when it gets too low. What do I care, though? I hated the game too much to try it on normal mode. You get to choose the role of Ariel or King Triton, whoever you choose simply has you saving the other from Ursula and the ending screen for Ariel is simply a screen that says “Congratulations, you saved King Triton.” I thought they were above bad unlicensed NES style endings by the time the Genesis came around. Guess not but talk about disappointing to say the least!

In the game Ariel, who I finished it with, has to go through four Ecco The Dolphin style stages while finding all the polyps and turn them back into mermaids and mermen. Once you’ve collected all of them the stage ends, and you face the boss. The game is made somewhat easier because you can view a map by pressing start. Ariel’s friends come in the form of power-ups. Flounder will help you move heavy stones out of the way, Sebastian will kill enemies when they get too numerous, and there’s one more gray fish that I didn’t know what to do with. If you find an icon with Scuttle on it you can go to a store where you can buy health and lives and more friend icons. Eric never makes an appearance in the game at all, and it’s probably for the worse since it made this game feel all the more lazy to me.

Each of the four stages are almost the same thing, and the objective of rescuing the polyps never changes so I was bored by the second stage. By the end of the game I wanted to pull my hair out in boredom and frustration! Now this brings me to the controls, which don’t work right either; Ariel has a very hard time turning properly for no apparent reason at all, and it enemies can really put the hurt on you because of this. When she has to access tight areas she can easily get hung up on the walls which then become hard to move around as well. For a game aimed at the kiddies it’s rather difficult, and it’s mostly due to the flaws, but it still shouldm’t be this hard. When you get hit by an enemy you don’t flash and have a moment to get away; you keep taking damage as long as you touch an enemy. In level two there are a ton of these annoying skeleton enemies that are rather large, and when you defeat them they fall apart, their parts fly everywhere and hurting you. Many times you have no choice but to destroy them and take the damage and get out of the way as fast as possible. There are also times when you’ve defeated an enemy and it’s disappeared, and you still keep getting hurt as if the game hasn’t registered that the enemy has been defeated. Seriously now! How did allow themselves to publish a game with these amateur flaws?

The Little Mermaid tries to make you think it gives you all this variety by giving you two characters to play as, but it’s just a lame quip to make the game seem better. Truth be told, there’s no difference between playing as Ariel or King Triton. Ariel uses here voice and Triton uses Fireballs to attack, but they work identically so there’s no difference to either aside from the ending screens.

I guess you could call the visuals adequate because for the most part they are. Ariel and Triton are nicely animated with bright colors, and the bosses are done well too, but the backgrounds repeat and look all the same after a few minutes. The music in the game is adequate as well, but I was hard pressed to tell it was from the movie if it even was, and the sound effects are average at best.

You know what? I never had a problem with Disney movies or their games but this was truly way more then I ever expected as far as bad. I had heard rumors and our very own Baloo passed on this review because he didn’t like the Game Gear port, and he said it was probably the same thing. He is our resident Disney reviewer, so that’s saying something when he gives it a pass. I now understand why now, it’s probably the worst Disney based game on the Genesis, and I’m not even a fan of Virgin’s Disney-based games so that’s another hint as to how bad it really is. I grabbed this game because I was in a hurry to try a new game from my collection that I hadn’t played before and I only had a few minutes. I’m glad that I didn’t spend time with this as a kid, and that I only played it for a few minutes as I’m sure I’d be in pretty bad shape mentally if I was exposed to it much longer!

SCORE: 2 out of 10

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3 Comments

  1. LaytonPuzzle27 says:

    If this game was developed by Novotrade International instead of BlueSky Software the game would have been fun to play.

  2. JustRob says:

    I think you’re being too unforgiving with this game. It’s not perfect, sure, but it’s better then you give it credit for. The collecting of polyps is a fun way to explore the levels, which is definitely worth it. Sometimes you can find hidden treasures or other stuff.

    First you say playing the game on easy makes it so easy you can’t die, then you go on to say this game is probably too difficult for kids. But kids aren’t stupid. When I was a kid I beat games a lot more difficult then this. Kids love playing a game over and over again until they beat it.

    And the bossfights are really pretty cool and original, but you didn’t even mention these. If the game is too easy for you, play like a man and do it on hard.

    It may not be an amazing Genesis game, but it’s definitely the best Mermaid game to date, and to give it only 2 out of 10 is just absurd.

    • goldenband says:

      For what it’s worth I agree, and before the site was hacked in 2010 I’d made a similar comment (now lost along with many other review comments, sadly) right after beating the game. I don’t think the reviewer read the manual — the difficulty level and recharging health are explained in there, among other things. And trashing the game for being too easy, but then boasting that you didn’t bother to play on any other difficulty level, really isn’t a good look!

      But anyway: the music is nice, the graphics are adequate, and overall it has that pleasant vibe typical of the Disney franchise on the Genny. Not that Ariel is a great game, because it surely isn’t: there are some control issues, the boss fights are trivial (even the final boss!), certain enemies are exceptionally annoying (especially the pirate skeletons and heat-seeking discus statues), and it’s quite short and very easy.

      But The Little Mermaid is a perfectly fine way to spend 45 minutes, and there’s certainly room in my library for a superficial but pleasant game that doesn’t ask much. I actually enjoyed each of my three playthroughs of the game (one per difficulty level), which is more than I can say for a lot of other games that get lavish praise. In a way, it’s a lot more like a typical NES game than a Genesis game, especially how the collision detection/damage calculation is handled. Once you get in that mindset, it’s easier to enjoy it.

      I’d give it 4/10, bordering on 5/10. Just be sure to play Easy or Normal before trying Hard, since on Hard you have to know where the exits are (they’re no longer marked on the map).

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