Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic
Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic is a platformer video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Famicom Disk System on 1987-07-10. In the game, the player controls an Arabian family whose two youngest members were kidnapped by a villain named Mamu who snatched them into a book. The father, mother, and older brother and sister jump into the book in order to rescue their children. The characters are based on mascots from a 1987 consumer festival called Yume Kojo (Dream Factory) put on by the Japanese television company Fuji Television. The game was remade into Super Mario Bros. 2 for its North American release.
The game began under the lead of Kensuke Tanabe who had developed a tech demo without a theme. The goal was to try and have two players pick up and toss each other and stack up objects in order to progress higher up the screen. However, the project seemed doomed as lead designer Shigeru Miyamoto said it wasn't very fun and Tanabe didn't want to compromise his idea, and, besides, the game didn't seem possible on the hardware anyway. It was put on hold indefinitely, until Nintendo tasked Tanabe with making a game for Fuji Television based on the mascots of their Yume Kojo festival, and he thought his tech demo would be a good fit. Using Miyamoto's team, they eliminated the two-player aspects of the game, added horizontal scrolling, gave it a Yume Kojo theme, and included several Mario aspects like star man, POW blocks, and ducking down into pots. When Nintendo of America was looking to sell another Mario game, they weren't impressed with the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 because they didn't want to introduce such a difficult game into the American market which was just recovering from its video game crash. The decision to convert Yume Kojo into the US Super Mario Bros. 2 was made by the president of Nintendo of America, Minoru Arakawa. His decision seemed odd to some NoA members, but, considering the game was made by the Mario team, and, Yume Kojo was a good game that would otherwise be wasted on the USA, in hindsight it seems like a good idea.
I remember learning in the early 1990s that Super Mario Bros. 2 in the USA was different to the one in Japan, and seeing it for real when I got Super Mario All-Stars, however, I don't think I saw anything about Yume Kojo until many years later when Famicom Disk System emulation became more developed. If I recall, I played the game, saw a bunch of similarities and concluded that Super Mario Bros. 2 was just a reskin, and didn't bother playing the game any further. However, after seeing more and more differences pop up on various Web sites, I started to believe that I should probably try and play the game completely. So, I started playing the game seriously and, after a few days, beat it on 2021-02-13.
I do not own this game, but I have beaten it with all four characters.
Best Version: FDS
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game design is very creative. It has many mechanics that I had not seen before the release of this game.
- There is a lot going on with the level layouts, and the designers really took advantage of all the quirks of the game engine. Different sections play to the strengths of each of the four characters, and this is really made clear since you're forced to play them all with each character. I especially like the shortcuts and warps that can be found by those who diligently search.
- The music is very enjoyable, although the updated music in Super Mario Bros. 2 is even better.
- The graphic design is really good and very creative. The enemies are adorable with shy guy, ninji, birdo, mouser, cobrat, and porcupo being my favorites with particular love for flurry. The background graphics are very attractive and the character design accurately mimics the mascots of the Yume Kojo event.
- The game is a good challenge. It becomes pretty hard near the end, but never unfair.
- The little touches brought in from the Mario franchise are appreciated.
- I like how the characters slide down the ladders.
- Although I do love the sinister look of Phanto in Super Mario Bros. 2, I still like the expressionless dead eyes of the original.
- Player control isn't as good as it could be. Jumping feels sluggish and not as controllable as you would want, even when using the son or father. The mother's floaty jump is especially difficult to control and isn't that much higher than the son's, and her slow pickup rate and speed makes her an all-around inferior character. I also don't like how easy it is to slip off vines/chains/ladders by not pressing up or down perfectly which leads to a lot of frustrating falls.
- Too much of the level design relies on memorization for my tastes. There are a couple sections where you blindly fall down a shaft with very little time to react to spike or pits. You also need to memorize which plants are safe to uproot, where to throw potions to get mushrooms, etc. This was an acceptable design practice at the time, but I don't appreciate it anymore.
- Having to beat the entire game four times, once with each character, makes the game a bit of a long haul.
- I found the first slot in the slot machine to be far too easy to game. By the time I finished world 2 with all four characters, I had still amassed 62 lives, even minus my deaths! And, even after dying several times in the later levels, I had surpassed 99 lives and got into the A0s and finally the B0s before finishing the game! This really seems unnecessary since the game allows saving each time you complete a world. They really should have decreased the number of cherries that appear in the first slot and sped up their rotation a little more. One other thing that really annoyed me was, because I was alternating characters with each world, when I beat the game with my first character, all of my extra lives were removed! This meant I had to finish world 7 with the remaining characters with only 2 lives each. Had I known this, I would have made a complete run of the game with a single character instead so the lives I acquired earlier in the game would actually be useful.
- I don't like how the coins and 1-ups which are plucked from the ground are solid objects that interfere with your jumping, and I'm glad they fixed this in Super Mario Bros. 2.
- The rapid water palette-shifting is really distracting. This is especially obnoxious in 3-1 and 5-1.
- Although I tried to appreciate this game for what it was, and not for the improvements made when it was retooled to be Super Mario Bros. 2, it's hard to look at it and see it as not unfinished. Super Mario Bros. 2 has more impressive graphics and animation, better music, more fitting sound effects, tighter controls, etc.
- The blackface head is pretty disturbing.
The cartoon cover shows the family fighting the thugs of Mamu as he leers in the background with the kidnapped children. The fantastical art style is an accurate depiction of the game, the quality of the cartoon is professional, and the action is fitting as well (although birdo is never orange). However, it's disappointing that the game's two female characters are useless while the two male characters do all the fighting.
|Japanese||夢工場ドキドキパニック||Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panikku||Dream Factory: Heart-pounding Panic|