As seen in: Little Nemo, The Dream Master (NES)
Also in: The funny pages (Windsor McKay)
Distinguishing features: Perpetually wearing pajamas
Strengths: Animal kinship, endless supply of candy
Weaknesses: Evil dandelion seeds.
Profile by Ben Elgin | February 21, 2011
Little Nemo began life in the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, written by Winsor McCay and running in New York newspapers near the beginning of the 20th century. There, Nemo spent his nights traversing fantastic landscapes and having wild adventures while trying to make his way to the titular Slumberland before waking up in the morning. Always surreal (and sometimes violent and disturbing), the strip wasn't a big hit running alongside its mostly slap-stick contemporaries. Nemo wasn't heard from again until the late '80s, when a Japanese-American co-production revived him in a more cartoony style for the movie Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland. It's this movie that Little Nemo's video game incarnation is based on, though most people didn't realize it at the time, since its somewhat troubled production let the game beat it to US shores by over two years.
Thus Nemo finds himself back in the land of dreams, tasked with infiltrating the Nightmare World to rescue King Morpheus from the Nightmare Lord. Quite a tall order for an eight-year-old boy in pajamas with no combat abilities to speak of. In fact, Nemo himself has no means to fight back against the strange creatures sent to impede his progress—the best he can manage is to lob a large piece of candy at their noggins, temporarily stunning them while he sneaks around. For an 8-bit hero, Nemo mostly just tried to stay out of harm's way.
Fortunately, other options soon present themselves. Not every creature in Slumberland has it in for our poor moppet; some animals appear of an indifferent persuasion until Nemo discovers that, far from being knocked silly by his candy arsenal, these critters have quite the taste for sugary sweets. Having been lured by a sufficient supply of confections, some allow Nemo to ride on their backs, providing not only new means of transport by land, sea, or air, but potentially also new means of attack. After days of being bullied by unbeatable bats, ants, and snails, a kid like Nemo is bound to take some pleasure in pounding their faces with his gorilla friend's large fists, or the mouse's expertly wielded mallet.
Some friendly animals aren't quite the right shape for riding on, though, so Nemo... merges with them? Or perhaps wears their skin? It's a bit disturbing if you think about it too much, but then, this is a dream, and the critters seem to be doing alright when they're sent away later. Let's all just be thankful that this game existed before the Internet had gone and let us know what "vore" means and move on, shall we?