Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pajama Hero

Heroes always arrive late… to bed.

Looking back through old bookmarks, I stumbled across a Destructoid review of an old Nintendo game, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, loosely based on the spectacularly surreal comic strip. Designed by Capcom, the same company which had released the Mega Man sidescrollers, the game actually owes a debt to Super Mario Bros. 3, as the title character bounces through stages while borrowing the powers and costumes of various animals — frogs, mice, moles, lizards, and, in an instance that would be echoed eighteen years later with Super Mario Galaxy, bees. Aside from reigniting my passions for both this game and the original Nemo strip, the Destructoid post imparted a little jewel of trivia: In Japan, where Windsor McCay’s work would have probably been even less known among the gaming tot crowd than in America, the game is simply known as Pajama Hero, which, of course, is the best possible name for anything ever.

I’m not clear if the Little Nemo game has any official connection to the Little Nemo animated film, which even my child brain could pick out as utter rubbish and which was released in Japan in 1989 and in the U.S. in 1992. Without that pop culture reference link in the middle, I’d like to think that Nemo’s adventures took him from the below image, which I scanned from the bound volume retrospective I bought in high school…

a little nemo thanksgiving. (see here for larger version. )
… to this, a video clip showing the game’s first level.

Not a lot carried over from the original strip to the game. The reconfigured version even casts Flip is a helpful character instead of a cigar-chomping miscreant. A nice touch on Capcom’s part, however, would have to be the fact that every stage begins with Nemo hopping into bed and ends with pleas from Nemo’s parents to adjust his sleeping habits.

“Pajama Hero,” though. Can’t get over what a perfect pairing of words that is.

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