Today marks 20 years since the release of one of the finest platformers you could play on your SNES: DoReMi Fantasy. I originally wrote about this game nearly 10 years ago when it wasn’t as well known as it is today. When I first got back into all things Super Nintendo (January 2006), I did so in large part because I wanted to get back to my platforming roots. I scoured the net and looked at the entire SNES library. I saw pictures of a Japanese game called “DoReMi Fantasy” and instantly fell in love. Ever see a picture of a game and knew right away that you had to play it? DoReMi Fantasy had me instantly charmed. The Super Famicom has some amazing games that we Westerners sadly never received. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best. 10 years ago it was actually obscure. It’s a lot more well known these days due to positive word of mouth over the years. Plus, a Wii Virtual Console release in March 2008 certainly didn’t hurt. It isn’t uncommon to find this game on hidden gem and must have SNES lists. It couldn’t happen to a nicer game, as the old saying goes [I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go like that but ok… -Ed.]
DoReMi Fantasy is a highly polished side-scrolling platformer. There are 8 worlds each with their own theme. In each world there’s a minimum of 6 levels followed by a boss. An overhead map allows you to backtrack. The levels aren’t particularly long but they possess plenty of detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops, ace set pieces and ultra smooth gameplay. The game’s sound is also noteworthy — it occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. It all helps to create a unique world well worth exploring and spending a weekend or two with.
Milon is a great character, full of charm and animated brilliantly. Graphics are outstanding. The game has a real sense of life to it. You really have to see it in motion to fully appreciate it. Milon can take up to 3 hits. His suit starts out green, then turns blue when hit and finally red. Jumping on an enemy’s head will only stun them. To kill them, you have to first encase them in a bubble and then pop them. It’s a slight twist on the ole hop ‘n bop routine that works well. Although it’s nothing groundbreaking by any means, this slight deviation from the norm is welcomed.
From world 2 on, each level contains a Musical Star you must find and grab (usually not that hard, but later on becomes trickier). Therefore, you’re forced to explore the beautiful layouts (if you finish a stage without getting the star, you can’t battle the boss). Speaking of worlds, let’s take a look at them.
1. THE WOODS
It’s the ole standard forest theme world. Although basic, it manages to pull you into its charming world. Something about SNES visuals that just does it for me. Sure, there might be better out there (i.e. Neo Geo) but visuals like this get me every single time. As with any platformer, the first world is simple and will get you acquainted to the game’s mechanics and control. You may feel a bit uninspired initially but it gets much better. Highlights of this world include a log ride, falling leaves over a pit where you must time your leap from one leaf to the next, and a neat little haunted cabin featuring Pinocchio-esque dolls.
2. FOOD CONSTELLATION TYPE WORLD?
If the first world seemed a bit ho-hum to you, then the second world is a lot more likely to catch your eye. It’s not often that you find a themed world consisting of food and drink items combined with a very atmosphere celestial backdrop. It’s almost like some weird acid trip. Lots of neat graphical touches, a surreal and ambient soundtrack and some bizarre-o enemies make these levels particularly memorable.
Launching posts propel Milon high through the air and usually sends the little guy bursting through blocks in the process. And it feels as awesome as it looks.
Another impressive set piece, if you leave Milon idle for a while, he’ll pull his pointy wizard’s hat over his head as the wine comes pouring down over him. It’s a cute, charming moment that brought a smile to my face the very first time I saw it. Moments like this bring DoReMi Fantasy to life.
Some creepy music here! It’s not what you expect, and caught me off guard when I first heard it. It gives this stage a rather eerie, empty feel. Highlights of this world include a bell hopping stage and a unique level where on/off switches litter the floor. Touch any off switch and darkness devours the scene, except for the color of the switches and Milon’s white pupils.
Though much of this level is on land, there are plenty of underwater sequences. I quickly developed a burning hatred for those annoying spear throwing frogmen. And I suspect you will too.
I love this world. It features some of the game’s best looking visuals and stages. It’s incredibly fun to play through. Stage 5-3 is a sled stage that particularly rocks.
Blow a bubble. It’ll freeze, forming a block for Milon to hop on. Brilliant. And yes, as you’d expect those icy blocks are more slippery than a used car salesman. Overall, a really fun world and easily my favorite in the game. So incredibly atmospheric. Those Northern Lights never fail to bring a smile to my heart. You can almost feel the chill. Be sure to play this one by the fireplace if you can
C’mon you knew this was coming! No 16-bit platformer is complete without the ole mandatory fiery-themed level. I don’t mind tropes so long as they’re done well. And Hudson doesn’t fail to deliver here.
Two fairly difficult force-scrolling levels are spread across this blazing world. OK, so DoReMi Fantasy fulfills all the platforming tropes. When it’s this well done though, who cares? Certainly not me.
7. TOYS R US
The toy stages are stunning. The richness of colors immediately jumps out, radiating off your TV screen. It’s a reminder that 16-bit visuals, when done right, has an undeniable charm that hits all the right notes [I see what you did there… DoReMi Fantasy… notes… har har… -Ed.]. In addition to some gnarly visuals, there are plenty of dangerous little gadgets in this toy world from hell. Black Friday ain’t got nothing on this.
There’s also a haunted house-inspired world. But I’ll save some for you to imagine, or better yet, experience it yourself! If you haven’t played this yet and you consider yourself a fan of the 16-bit era platformer, this is a must play. It’s one of the best Super Famicom-only games ever released, and I wouldn’t hesitate to say it could be the best non-Mario platformer on the entire system. Yes, I believe it’s that damn good.
- Slowdown does occur but it’s not often nor does it affect gameplay really
- When you lose (whether to a boss or anywhere on a level), you start with 1 hit (red suit). So you’ll find yourself backtracking often to restore your health to 3 hits (green suit) before re-facing the boss. Hard love it is, indeed. Yes, you can backtrack because this game incorporates a map
- Infinite continues
- 4 character password system (too bad it wasn’t battery-backed). Passwords put you on the 1st stage of that world, so you have to do all the work again if, say, you quit at a boss battle
- Hold attack until Milon flashes to unleash his super attack. Some situations require his super attack to advance, so be sure to make a mental note of this
- Different power-ups are available and hidden inside breakable items. Power-ups include floating shoes, double bubble, bubble gum (very handy should you fall in a bottomless pit), and so forth.
- The storyline unfolds in pictures and text. While the text is in Japanese, there isn’t a whole lot. The pictures are self-explanatory when it comes to these cutscenes introducing new gameplay elements in each world
- Milon is a selectable character in Hudson’s Saturn Bomberman (1997)
A fan translation (as seen above) was released in August of 2007. Like I said earlier, you can enjoy the game without the translation as there isn’t much text, but it’s sure nice to get the whole package.
DoReMi Fantasy is an excellent platformer every serious SNES fan should own. It’s a shame it didn’t receive a domestic release. But seeing as how it came out March 1996 (the SNES was practically dead in the US by then), it’s hard to harp on that much. Personally, I think DoReMi Fantasy ranks right up there as one of Super Nintendo’s finest platformers. It’s terrific from top to bottom, and as a friend of mine once put it perfectly: “It’s about as charming as a video game can be.” I couldn’t agree more. Happy 20th anniversary, DoReMi Fantasy!