Gimmick! Special Edition Review
Gimmick!, released in Scandinavia as Mr. Gimmick, is a platform video game developed and published by Sunsoft, and originally released in Japan for the NES in 1992. The story follows a small green yōkai named Yumetaro who was mistakenly gifted as a toy to a young girl. After the girl’s toys come to life and whisk the girl away to another dimension, Yumetaro gives chase to save her. Playing as Yumetaro, the player must maneuver through a variety of levels, using the protagonist’s star-shooting power to defeat enemies and progress through the game.
In order for Gimmick! to rival the quality of games on the then-new Super NES, director Tomomi Sakai required a large staff and used innovative techniques to create high-quality graphics and sound. The graphics were handled using advanced tile set algorithms which freed processing power so more detailed graphics could be drawn on the screen. The game uses an expanded sound chip which provided more sound channels than a standard Famicom game. With this special chip, composer Masashi Kageyama was able to create a more advanced score. The soundtrack crosses multiple genres, with Kageyama describing it as a “compilation of game music”. While only distributed in Japan and Scandinavia, the game did not see worldwide success, but years later through emulation and the like the game did obtain a cult following.
But now we are seeing this retro game get a second chance at life. Gimmick! is now available on all consoles for all to enjoy. The game plays out similar to a brutally hard version of Kirby. Using physics-based combat to launch and bounce stars as your primary weapon. Like many games of its time, you have to have precision movements and platforming skills to get through the game. Many younger gamers probably can’t even imagine this level of difficulty in what appears on the surface to be a kid’s game. Thankfully I have been gaming since those days and while I still definitely had a very difficult time it was manageable thanks to the rewind feature that we have also seen on a lot of the Nintendo Switch online games.
The player must make their way through six stages and six bosses to complete the game. Once the sixth boss is defeated, it is revealed that the girl is still missing and the game restarts from the beginning. To truly complete Gimmick!, the player must find a hidden area in each stage where a magic item resides. If one can obtain all the magic items without losing every life (i.e. using no continues), a secret stage would appear in which an extra boss must be beaten. Only after this boss is defeated is the game completed in full, with a cutscene showing Yumetaro rescuing his owner and leading her back to the real world.
While this game definitely won’t be for everyone it’s definitely a hidden gem for us older gamers, or for gamers who appreciate the nostalgia effect.