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Back To Bed With Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Little Nemo: The Dream MasterCapcom's Nintendo Entertainment System productions are commonly remembered for featuring Disney characters or Mega Man, but let us not forget that for some reason the company acquired the aging license to Little Nemo in Slumberland back in 1990.  The result was Little Nemo: The Dream Master (Nemo Pajama Hero in Japan), a side-scrolling action platformer adventure in which the titular Nemo dreams that he's feeding tasty candy to his animal buddies until they fall asleep, after which he climbs into their skins to absorb their power.  That's not ringing a bell?  Let Joey Davidson explain all about it and analyze its meaning in one of our fantastic retro articles over at Kombo.

The game worked to plug away at fantastic imagery and scenarios throughout its full length.  Each level brought a completely unique feel and style to the table, and because of that they each piqued an individual set of emotions.  The blackened forest might have brought on a sense of being lost or forgotten, while the dangerous toy land may have played with the cruelty of childhood innocence.  Then there’s the land of nightmares, a completely spiteful and angry place with almost no redeeming qualities.

But perhaps this is way too dark of an examination of Little Nemo.  It is, after all, about a boy venturing into his own stormy dreams. But the comic strip itself offers up so much room for exploration that it’d be a mistake to ignore it.  Almost every strip places Nemo in extreme danger.  He falls towards his certain demise only to wake up on the floor next to his bed.  His mother’s typically there scolding him for eating too many doughnuts or peanuts or pieces of candy before sleeping.

The bed itself is a huge figure throughout every iteration of Nemo.  It is, all at once, Nemo’s safe-haven and his vessel for danger and adventure.  In the Japanese animated film from the late 80s, Nemo’s bed delivers him to the world of dreams as it takes off into the air only moments after the opening credits roll.  In the comic strip, Nemo’s bed is a constant fixure centered in every piece.  He leaves reality with his bed, and his bed often changes shape and structure in order to take him towards the fantastic.

Little Nemo was a holiday gift from my parents that year, but I never knew why.  It wasn't on my annual wish list (this was the year that all of the games I'd listed were delayed into the following year, so they were pretty much flying blind when picking out a game for me), nor had I ever mentioned it.  They somehow picked it out themselves, and as we all know, allowing uninformed folks with good intentions to randomly choose a video game is a minefield at best.  Thankfully they chose well, and despite the difficulty curve (it was years before I could complete the train sequence in the third stage), I was happy to have it.

Finally, no mention of Little Nemo: The Dream Master is complete without sharing its totally rocking title theme song.