If you ever read a list of the top 10 platform games on the SNES you will more likely than not see favourites such as Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island hogging the top spots with DK Country following closely behind. Sadly, DoReMi Fantasy would rarely feature in such a list despite a modest loyal following in the gaming community.
Perhaps the only reason why Hudson’s mysterious platformer isn’t more appreciated is simply because it never got released outside Japan, which is a crying shame as it easily rivals Nintendo’s first party efforts for the platforming genre crown on the SNES.
The storyline is your typical damsel in distress routine. Milon must battle his way through various levels and encounter fiendish bosses in order to save his friend Aris the fairy and restore peace to the land. There are cutscenes in-between levels that unveil more of the plot, which is a nice touch adding depth to the proceedings.
For a 16-bit game the graphics in DoReMi stand out from the crowd. The characters, enemies and bosses have a great level of detail and the animations are faultless and smooth. The icing on the cake however is the backgrounds, which really impress with their soft pastel colours bringing the foreground to life in contrast. There are numerous little touches along the way that reinforce the love and care to detail that the developers put into creating DoReMi.
The in-game music is used in an interesting way for a cutesy platformer such as this. You might expect the musical score to be repeated on a loop until you eventually hear it in your sleep. Not so with DoReMi; instead Hudson tried out the innovative approach of fading out the music in favour of mood-altering sound effects such as the noise of the wind in certain stages on the game. This adds an extra layer of depth when combined with all the other neat touches and it works really well in building the in-game atmosphere.
None of the above would matter if the game’s controls were unresponsive and the level design was a mess, but thankfully Hudson do not disappoint on this score either. Controlling Milon is intuitive and as responsive as you could hope for.
There are lots of times when, true to platforming protocol, you will be made to make pixel perfect jumps – never once does it feel like a fault in the controls if you misjudge your target. If that wasn’t enough you can collect bubblegum to give you some grace if you miss a jump, Milon will simply float back up from the off-screen death by blowing a life-saving bubble.
Your main weapon in the game is a bubble blower which lets you encase an enemy and boot them off-screen in Bubble Bobble fashion. In addition to this you can also stun adversaries by bouncing off their heads. There are lots of secret areas to be found as you can break through certain blocks with your bubble blower. Before long you’ll come across a whole range of interesting power-ups to assist you in your quest.
DoReMi is one of the best examples of a platform game on the SNES and holds its own with favourites such as Super Mario World. There is not much to fault the game on, if indeed anything at all. Nintendo and Hudson should be congratulated in pushing this forward for an “import” release on the Virtual Console. It will finally give platform gaming fans a chance to give this wonderful game a chance and hopefully assist in adding DoReMi to the canon of the top 10 SNES platformers lists.
Note: As this game was never released outside of Japan there is quite a bit of Japanese text in the in-game menus and level cut-scenes. None of this distracts from what is an excellent platform romp in any way. The electronic manual on the Wii explains what you need to know.