If the name of this game looks familiar, congratulations—you are one of maybe five people in the whole world who remember that old Fox cartoon Peter Pan and the Pirates. This Nintendo title really jumped out at me when i saw it at GameStop, but it wasn’t until I visited the next-door West Coast Video that I realized it was based off of an animation. I’d just purchased it for the pirates. I snagged the video they had for sale of Peter Pan and the Pirates, despite its seven dollar price tag. The cartoon actually cost me seven times as much as the game based on it, but it’d be unfair for me to review a licensed game without first viewing its source material.
The things I do for you readers.
Peter Pan and the Pirates follows its cartoon license as much as you could expect it to—the cartoon is apparently about kicking pirate ass and defeating that dastardly Captain Hook, and that is exactly what you do in the game. You, of course, control Peter Pan in this side-scrolling adventure, through nine levels of sword-fighting fun. It looks and controls a lot like the Back to the Future NES titles, which can’t possibly be considered a good thing. The graphics are mostly shady and gloomy, as though someone ran the game through Photoshop, lowering the contrast and upping the darkness. They’re more detailed than Back to the Future, but it’s not like that’s a compliment or anything. Berserk for the A26 features more detail in its graphics than does Back to the Future for the NES.
The controls don’t exactly make you scream out in orgasmic delight, either. You can jump and move just fine, but for some reason you can only use your sword while Peter Pan is standing completely still. You’d better pray to God that you’ve no need of an aerial attack. The flying controls are a bit wacky, too—they like to activate themselves when you’re merely trying to jump atop a ledge, causing you to lose valuable flying dust.
Flying dust powerups are few and far between in Peter Pan and the Pirates. And if you die, they don’t respawn themselves in the level. Neither do health powerups, but you’ll always more health than you know what to do with, so that never matters. The lack of flying dust, though, is a huge pain. If you die toward the end of a level after picking up all of its flying dust, you’d might as well turn the game off. There’s no level in this game which you can complete without flying dust, so if you have none, you’re completely screwed.
Through some bizarre twist of fate, Peter Pan and the Pirates still manages to be a fun Nintendo game. It’s no Super Mario Bros. 3, that’s for sure, but you won’t feel cheated out of your dollar after purchasing this game. This is probably because it’s near impossible to lose. Unless you have no flying dust, you can pretty much get through every level without any difficulty. Except the last one, which I’ve sadly yet to beat. You actually get to do a bit of swordfighting with the enemy pirates in the game, too, and while it’s no Way of The Samurai, it’s still good wholesome 8-bit fun.
When it comes down to it, Peter Pan and the Pirates is a fairly solid side-scroller, with questionable graphics and controls. The audio’s not much better, either, and it can sometimes glitch up on you. But if you need a title to make you feel better about your subpar gaming skills, this is it. Let me know if you complete the final level.