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Little Samson!
by: Dr. Boogie

Now and then, I like to bring to your attention a game that never really got a fair shake back when it was originally released. You've seen flying squirrels and crime-fighting janitors, but what about Samson? Surely that guy must've had a video game of his own that took place pre-haircut. Well lucky for you, I just happen to know of such a game. I would like to present a little known NES game called Little Samson.

Apparently, this guy was so strong that he was overcoming evil when he was just a wee lad. So you would think.

The basic story here is that a dark prince of some sort has come to bother the fine people of wherever this game takes place. The king sends out some messengers to gather up some hero types, but they all get wasted by an evil wizard guy. The king's next great plan is to send his summons via carrier pigeon, as they are wizard-proof.

From there, you must guide each of the four heroes through a stage of their own to meet up at the king's castle and embark on a campaign of anti-wizard violence. But who are these heroes worthy enough to receive a message from the king?

This scrawny little kid is supposed to be the biblical strongman. Despite his ropey arms and lime green sweatband, he does have his uses. He can climb on almost any surface, and he can jump pretty high, although he jumps like a spazz, spinning in circles like a top.

He can also throw bells, jingling ball-shaped bells. Each one made and ear-piercing jingling sound when thrown, and so you could expect to go deaf when challenging tougher foes.

Second in line is a dragon named Kirira. She's got wings, and she is a dragon, so it's only natural that she be able to breathe fire and fly, though only in five-second bursts. She can even hold in a burst of fire for an extra-strong salvo of flames. Wee!

A huge, pokey golem named Gamm. His full plate mail suit, aside from making him move no faster than a leisurely stroll at any time, renders him impervious to spikes and gives him the power of the rocket punch!

Take that, evil!

To round out this team of powerhouses, we have an extremely agile mouse named K.O. He ran his ass off all over the place. Up the walls, across the ceilings, this rat could go anywhere, and thank god he could. KO was more fragile and injury-prone than a real mouse. On the other hand, he could lay down some pretty nasty bombs, so you were constantly tempted to use the mouse against tough bosses for a quick finish. The problem was that you couldn't really say who was going to finish on top, since merely touching the enemy could leave you with one dead rat.

By the way, you won't find out any of the characters' names, apart from the title character, just from playing the game. All this info about the characters and story was gleaned from the manual. Of course, it wasn't unheard of for an NES title to not include any sort of story-telling within the game itself, but Little Samson was different in that all its story-telling and plot development was communicated via silent cutscenes:

"Yes, all four of you, into the magic bell! So sayeth the King!"

For the most part, the opposition will appear as just a bunch of cutesy anime characters that'll go down after being beaned with a few magic bells. On the other hand, the bosses, who I assume are supposed to be the evil prince's helper wizards, actually don't look that bad.

All the bosses would start out looking like this joker. Nifty animation, but otherwise pretty weenie, teleporting about and hurling sparking balls of energy at you. Once you thrashed them a little, they would toss that cloak aside and get down to business.

And the last helper wizard looks an awful lot like Death. Was Taito trying to draw parallels between Little Samson and Castlevania?

Taito had originally developed the game in the hopes of both having a hit of their own for the NES, and creating an easily-recognizable mascot in the process. Personally, I don't see why it didn't work out. It's one of the better platform games on the NES, and it as some really remarkable graphics and animations. It could be due to the fact that by calling the main character "Little Samson", they may have inadvertently tricked the public into believing this was some crappy bible adventure game. Granted, the box art also shows a dragon, a mouse, and a golem (a Judeo-Christian mash-up game, perhaps?), but are you really going to pay any attention to a game if you think it's going to suck? No.

That's the problem with making a cult hit: there's not going to be any money in it for 10 - 20 years and unfortunately, Taito wasn't able to last that long. It's a shame, really. It would've made for a nifty mascot, and maybe even a remake for the DS. Oh well. If I had a dime for every old platform game that would make for a great DS remake, I'd be funding those very remakes myself.

Questions or Comments about this piece?
email Dr. Boogie

*** You too can play Little Samson! ***


Note: to play this game you'll need a NES emulator.

Want to see some more video game related content?
Then check out Dr. Boogie's feature on:

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