Little Samson

aka: Seirei Densetsu Lickle
(prices updated 10/2 2:56 AM )

Description

Ta-Keed, the Prince of Darkness, has managed to escape from his supernatural penitentiary where he has had centuries to plot exactly how he will take revenge on those that locked him away. Emperor Hans sends his troops to deal with this threat, but they are no match for the ultimate evil one. As an alternative, the emperor summons the bearers of 4 Magical Bells. These 4 adventurers must make their way to the castle and work as a team if they are to destroy Ta-Keed.

The first part of Little Samson has each of the 4 characters journeying from his or her home land to the emperor's palace. This gives the player an opportunity to explore that character's unique abilities which will be essential throughout the game.* Samson is a human who is reasonably fast and also possesses magnificent rock climbing prowess. He is able to scale walls and hang across ceilings, and also grab onto walls and ceilings while jumping. His offensive option is the ability to shoot bells straight ahead.

  • Kikira is the Dragon Lord. Since she has claws, she does not slip on ice. When she jumps, she can also fly for short bursts. She breathes fire in 2 intensities, depending on how long the player holds down the fire button. Her fireballs spread in arc patterns.

  • Gamm is the Rock Lord. Since he is a living rock he is very strong. So strong in fact that spikes do not hurt him, which is very valuable in a number of situations. He is also very slow and has only a short leap. He has a powerful punch.

  • K.O. is the Mouse Lord. He is tiny which allows him to enter areas that other team members can not. He is also extremely fast and the highest jumper of the team. However, he is the weakest member so he can not sustain very much damage. He has the same wall and ceiling traversal abilities as Samson. Offensively, he can drop time-delay bombs.

When all 4 characters reach the emperor's palace, they all jump into Samson's bell. Actually, Gamm and K.O. quietly jump into Samson's bell; Kikira initially refuses. After a brief fight (with the player controlling Samson), Kikira joins the effort. Throughout the rest of the game, the player can switch between any of the 4 characters by entering the sub-screen. Each character has their own power meter. However, all the characters share lives. If the presently selected character loses all of his or her power, then one life is lost. The player must swap between all 4 characters in order to complete the journey.

Spellings

  • 聖鈴伝説リックル - Japanese Spelling

Screenshots

Credits (NES version)

18 People · View all

Scenario
Produced by
Engineer
  • Dainoji
  • D.Bo0wy
Action
Design
Music
Advice
Chief Designer
Director
Presented by
  • Taito
Produced by
  • D.O.G.
  • Sur De Wave.
  • Sing and Dance Creater's
Scenario (脚本)
Production (演出)
Programming (技術)
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 13 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 16 ratings with 1 reviews)

Little Samson won’t blow your mind, but it’s liable to sate your thumbs.

The Good
Although best known for Bubble Bobble and more associated with the arcade than the living room, the oft overlooked developer/publisher Taito was responsible for bringing to bear a host of quality titles to the NES in the 80s and 90s. There were arcade ports, such as Double Dragon and Arkanoid, as well as lesser known, yet nonetheless quality titles, such as Power Blade. Little Samson is perhaps the best and least well known of Taito’s efforts on the NES. 1992’s offering, Little Samson, combines the cute aesthetics of Bubble Bobble with the run and gun action of Mega Man and character selection of Super Mario Bros. 2 (aka Doki Doki Panic).

Like Super Mario Bros. 2, the game features four characters with unique talents. After completing a special introductory stage for each of the four heroes, they can be switched between at will. They each maintain their own health bar and can each carry one restorative potion. Lives, however, are shared amongst the party.

The eponymous Little Samson is the everyman. He attacks with bells fired from his hands. He has a modest health bar. His jump is average and features a nifty spinning animation and he can cling to and climb most of the surfaces in the game. Pretty much any level can be cleared solely with Samson and I found myself using him almost all of the time.

Kikira is a dragon that spits fire and flies. She has slightly less health than Samson. Tapping the B button causes her to spit fireballs in a reverse parabolic arc (a J shape), while holding it will charge up the attack and fires three larger projectiles across the screen when released. Holding the A button after a jump will cause Kikira to hover at that level for a while, allowing her to fly over short distances.

Gamm is a Golem with an extendable punching arm. He has the most health and takes the least damage when hit. He’s totally immune to spikes and can walk across them with impunity. His jump is poor. His speed is plodding. Although the range of his attacks is limited, he can attack in two directions, forwards and up, and his hits land the hard.

K.O. is a mouse. He’s smaller than any of the others and can squeeze in to narrow spaces. He jumps the highest and moves the fastest, but he has little health and is quite frail. He attacks by planting bombs and his attacks are, ironically, the strongest, though they can be tricky to land on average enemies.

There is a definite plot to the game, though it only comes to light in little cut scene play-lets. An evil force is unleashed upon the world. The would-be heroes are each summoned to the king’s palace via writ. Each one is introduced in their own brief level that serves to feature their unique abilities before the quartet’s meeting at the castle. Before agreeing to embark on their adventure, Samson and Kikira have an altercation, but by the end of it, they become good friends.

As stated, the game play greatly resembles the Mega Man series. Samson and company run and gun their way through each of up to 23 levels. Power ups are limited to restorative hearts, capsules that can extend your health bar to a limit, restorative potions that can be held by each party member, and extra lives in the guise of Little Samson dolls. Most stages end with two boss battles. The first will be a sub-boss, usually a wizard that attacks with one of four patterns, then the main boss.

The main bosses run the gamut of fantasy creatures from dragons and disembodied knights to Cyclops’ and leviathans. Most of the boss battles are standard platform fair, but a few have a clever twist her or there. The Skull boss is particularly fun and challenging, coming together and flying apart while shooting at you. The dragon boss, on the other hand, is a near rip-off of the dragon boss from Mega Man II, just with the stage reversed. Whether fresh or standard fair, the bosses are all impressive in scope and scale. The boss sprites are big, bold, and imposing in the way they dwarf Samson and crew. They animate smoothly and feel fully realized. The only thing that could have made them better would be the jump to a 16-bit system.

Taito took care to ensure plenty of opportunity to switch between characters in tackling each objective. Although the game can be cleared solely with Samson, there are sections to each stage where at least one other character’s unique abilities will shine. K.O., for instance, can often retrieve items from hidden nooks, or circumvent certain dangers by taking another route. His bombs are also the best way to kill a handful of bosses. The game also features some limited level branching that can be achieved by switching characters, or through some otherwise surprising means. The levels span a variety of environments, including true to trope trappings such as an ice level and volcano stage, as well as a mind bending space scape and an Egyptian-esque temple. While none of the worlds is truly unique, the level design is innovative and challenging, and few games dare to take you to as many far flung places as this one. The beauty and attention with which the levels are rendered is more than enough for you to look past the otherwise hackneyed premises’.

The game offers two levels of difficulty: Easy and Normal. In easy mode, enemies take fewer hits to kill; your characters have higher capacity in their health bars, and take less damage when struck. There are also fewer enemies on screen at any one time. The tradeoff for playing Easy mode is that the game’s final three stages and true ending are inaccessible.

The Bad
Although the Mega Man series is the most natural point of reference to anyone unfamiliar with the game, and clearly the developers were familiar with it and fans, Little Samson differs from Mega Man in some key ways.

The obvious difference is the linearity of Little Samson. One of Mega Man’s best features was allowing you to choose the order in which you wanted to tackle each stage. The order in which weapons are collected has a huge impact in your game experience. Not so for Samson. The level branching that does exist doesn’t play out like in Castlevania 3, either. All branches ultimately merge back to the same path and only serve as side stories to your main adventure. In essence, the feature is underutilized and doesn’t add anything to replay value.

There is also no character progression in Little Samson. Other than increasing your health bar, your characters don’t improve or add abilities in any way. This isn’t an insurmountable fault, but it can make some of the game play feel repetitive. While I have to give a nod to the developers for not forcing you to have a given character to beat a level, it does undermine their gimmick a little bit because I seldom found myself switching away from Samson other than to pick up a heart sometimes with K.O. Gamm in particular feels nearly useless. His ability to walk on spikes is handy, but his paltry jumping in a very platform intensive game makes him difficult to use effectively. The thing I found myself doing more often than not was switching to him when I knew I was going to get hit, at which point he’s little better than another health bar.

The difficulty of Little Samson is uneven at times. There are some stages that are much easier than the one just cleared. There are several spots where the developers put together nasty little swathes that require a considered and clever approach to pass, but there are also several even nastier areas of fake difficulty where all you can do is put your head down and run through, taking damage all the way.

There isn’t a great variety of enemies in the game, nor a lot of strategy to killing most of them. The game makes up for this by swarming. The developers didn’t bother to govern the number of sprites on screen, either, and you can easily accumulate more than the game can accommodate. This, of course, leads to slow down and soon you’re as likely to die to your off timing as you are the horde of baddies in pursuit.

The repetitive moments and the number of long stages makes the game feel like it drags on a little longer than it’s truly welcome. By the time you reach the final stages, you’ve seen everything the game has to offer and the last four outings are relentless. I was ready to put the controller down several times before it was actually over. Mercifully, there is a password system that allows you to pick the game up at each of the key stages, so you don’t have to tackle it all in one sitting.

The worst part about Little Samson is the sound. Each of the heroes has his or her own theme song that plays when you select them. This is the only music in most of the game until the final few stages and none of the songs are particularly catchy. In fact, none of them is particularly good in any way.

The sound effects are mealy as well. The bells that Samson fires sound like the death rattle of a Simon that’s been flushed in the toilet. The lack of variety in music and quality in sound stands in contrast to the detail and craftsmanship in the visuals and is found wanting. I mostly played this one with the sound off and I recommend you do in kind.

The Bottom Line
I can definitely recommend Little Samson to Mega Man fans as it will be instantly familiar, though it’s not a true Blue Bomber clone. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you. Still, the quality and gameplay are there. The platforming action is spot on. The controls are precise and feel exactly as you would expect. The level design can be devious and smart. It’s fun. Even if you’re not into Mega Man, this game has a lot of nice features, though it doesn’t really do too much that you haven’t seen elsewhere. Definitely play it if you never have, but don’t feel like you need to be a completionist with this one. If you make it more than half-way through, you’ll have seen most of the good stuff. It’s enjoyable, just not epic.

NES · by Nancy "Infested" Kerrigan (36) · 2012

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Game added by Multimedia Mike.

Additional contributors: Shoddyan.

Game added September 27th, 2007. Last modified September 1st, 2023.