Solomon’s Key started life as a little known arcade game, but the NES version is probably more well known and remains a faithful rendition of the original. Playing as a little wizard by the name of Dana, you are tasked with escaping from a series of dungeons, using a handy magic wand that can create or destroy blocks. The stage is set for a fun, yet fiendishly tricky, action puzzle game.
The aim of each level is to get the key, then make it to the exit door. This is a lot more difficult than it sounds, as the layout of the room is not designed to aid your progress. You can create and destroy blocks to the side or underneath you, or even jump and wave your magic wand. The rooms are filled with enemies to avoid — or, if you have your wits about you, you can trap them with a well-placed block. There are also potions that allow you to shoot destructive fireballs at particularly unlucky bad guys.
Things start out simple, but later levels are much more intricate; getting through them without dying will require some forward planning. You're also working to a time limit which helps to keep you on your toes. With around 50 rooms in total, going through the whole game takes a fair amount of time.
Like most NES games, the graphics and sound are now very dated, but they do their job just fine: the visuals are colourful and the music is nice and catchy. What matters most in a game such as this is how fun the gameplay is, and thankfully this is where Solomon’s Key shines. Its blend of platforming and problem solving makes it timeless.
We’d highly recommend you check this out — it's one of the better NES games that doesn’t feature a certain Italian plumber. Tecmo did release a follow-up to Solomon’s Key by the name of Fire ‘n Ice, which we prefer slightly, but until that makes its way to the Virtual Console puzzle fans could do a lot worse than to take a chance on this.