In honor of the 107th anniversary of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo comic strip, I figured I’d touch on Little Nemo Dream Master for NES by Capcom.


Little Nemo Dream Master is a side scrolling platformer that came around in just about the dead center of the NES era (1990). I have fond memories of Dream Master because it was the game I played during my convalescence after breaking my arm. The doctor who treated me actually prescribed video games as a viable option to help keep the muscles in my arm mobile while wearing the cast. A prescription I took with gusto.

Dream master is an excellent platformer that I think was overlooked due to the cutesy nature of the graphics (like how some overlooked Secret of Mana for the same reason). However, behind that cutesy look lies a very robust game. Surprisingly (or not if you’ve played it), many top 100 NES lists have Dream Master in there somewhere, and for good reason: it’s a great game.

You play Nemo, a young dreamer who has entered the realm of Slumberland only to find that Morpheous, the Slumberland King, has been kidnapped by the Nightmare King. Your weapon? Candy. Yup, Nemo has only an endless sack of candy at his disposal, and enemies can only be stunned with the candy. Luckily, scattered around many of the levels are friendly animals. For five pieces of candy these animals will help Nemo out. Many of these animals have actual attacks that can kill the Dream baddies, which is a good thing because sometimes stunning those killer bees with candy is just not gonna cut it.

‘sup frog thing?

The goal of each level is to collect enough keys to open the door at the end. These keys will require you to explore a wide variety of levels using your animal friends, and your candy. There are 8 levels (a very popular number for NES games) ranging from the starting mushroom forest, to an animated toy land, to the land of nightmares itself. And when you finally beat the game they let you in on the cheat code for activating the level select feature in the game, which is a handy little code when you want to skip that $#&@ing train level in the toy room.

Despite a few hard levels, Dream Master is actually very playable. It was one of the very first NES games that I was able to complete, and remains one of the best balanced games in my collection for challenge vs. actual playability. Many have complained that the controls are a bit squirley, but honestly there are only a few parts where I felt that the controls could have been more responsive (the train level, and near the end of the game where you have to do some frustrating wall jumping with the gecko).

If you’ve never played Dream Master and are a fan of old-school platforming, I highly recommend giving it a try. The surreal levels, solid platforming, and cute animals challenging gameplay make for a great gaming experience.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?