Abby Takes On: The Little Mermaid (NES 1991)

Look at these games, aren’t they neat? Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete? I’ve got consoles and Gameboys a-plenty. I’ve got NES games galore. You want controllers, I’ve got twenty! But who cares? No big deal. I want more! Here where I sit, here where I play. Here’s where I’ll play all day, every day. My gaming room, writing reviews, a dream come true! That’s right – this week we’re diving head first into Capcom’s The Little Mermaid.

The game begins with a colorful storyboard explaining why our favorite mermaid, Ariel, must return to the sea. Ariel transforms back into a mermaid and is off to battle Ursula the evil sea witch and all of her cursed minions. The controls for Ariel are basic: directionals and attack. Seashells can be picked up and thrown to open chests, attack enemies, and find hidden treasures. Red and green power-up pearls are collected to improve the power and range of your attack. Hidden treasures can be acquired by throwing a captured enemy or a seashell into walls or cutouts. This is an imperative skill that must be learned to successfully complete this game. Extra lives and health are additional prizes to be collected but are very rare.

One interesting concept about this game is the unlimited number of continues. Failing isn’t so scary when you can just keep swimming. Each time you fail a level, you restart at the beginning but lose all of your earned power-ups. The repetitive nature encourages players to memorize the level and play smarter. Frequently during my playthroughs, I lost my patience when having to restart a level because I had not yet learned where all of the additional health and enemies were hidden. After several attempts, be prepared to trade your voice to just to complete the game. As a last ditch effort you may end up scouring the sea (err, internet) and find codes to make the game easier. Unfortunately, my NES collection is not complete. Without a GameGenie, defeating Ursula will have to wait for another adventure.

Several sources online state that The Little Mermaid is one of the easier games available for the NES. According to, the game can be completed in under half of an hour. While this is possible, it is important to factor in the time spent memorizing, restarting, and researching each level. As a beginner, it is important to attempt new challenges but this game does not provide a learning curve. If resources like a guide and manual are not available, it all comes down to a player and their ability to succeed. 

The Little Mermaid is a game that is recommended to an intermediate player. A beginner would be able to play, but only if they have time on their hands or the ability to access codes. As a single player game and no alternate modes, there is a serious lack of replay value once completed. The soundtrack can get repetitive but listening to 8-bit versions of classic Disney tunes is at times enjoyable. The Little Mermaid is enjoyable but I won’t be making deals with an evil sea witch to play again anytime soon.

About Dearest Abby 3 Articles
As a life-long gamer, Dearest Abby is thrilled to join the ReviewFix team. This Southern woman grew up playing Ms. Pac-Man in her great-grandparent’s garage and currently owns her own vintage Donkey Kong cabinet. Her experience includes competitive arcade gaming, retro game collecting, and current gen games. Dearest Abby is also a fan of vintage toy collecting, Star Wars, and all things nerdy. You can expect a “back to basics” journey as she writes about her first-time experience with a variety of gaming titles.

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