Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1988)

When it comes to adapting, certain elements are bound to be removed to make the finished piece work for the new medium. Other times, exciting elements are added, created out of whole cloth to ease the transition. While diehard fans might see this as sacrilege, other times they demonstrate massive amounts of ingenuity and creativity, that sometimes influences the original franchise. In 1988, the Nintendo Entertainment System got its version of the lauded 19th century novel, courtesy of Bandai, in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The inventiveness in the design of this 1988 platformer is staggering!

We join Dr. Jekyll, strolling on his way to a wedding, his wedding in fact to Miss Millicent. Yet some London residents aren’t as welcoming to Jekyll. Ne’er-do-wells constantly provoke Jekyll, and other inconvenient obstacles, sending him into fits of fury as Mr. Hyde. When in his altered state, he becomes privy to the nightmares of the World of Demons. Facing fiends in both dimensions, the pair must work together to get Jekyll to the wedding on time? Or will evil finally win?

As Jekyll, your response is limited as you attempt to stroll across London.

As Jekyll, your options are limited, you can yield your cane to adequate effect, and you can jump. Being a gentleman in 19th century Britain, this is to be expected, with brutish pugilism reserved for Hyde. Alongside your health meter, there is a rage meter too. Be careful about how much rage you build up because too much can send Dr. Jekyll into the depths of Mr. Hyde. Hyde has a range of vicious attacks, but much tougher opponents to boot, who Hyde can try to punch his way through. The game touts the introduction of “Psycho Wave”, that can be useful in tight squeezes. 

Anarchists and other obstacles will provoke Jekyll’s ire!

There is a complex strategy to reach the end, Hyde cannot go much further in the inverted World of Demons than Jekyll has traversed in the real world. So to win, you must provoke Jekyll and embrace the added challenge of Hyde. If you get further as Hyde than Jekyll, lightning from above will strike you down, killing you instantly. This is all communicated in the manual, which I implore you to read. Not just to have a greater understanding of how to play, but to see the effort and detail that the writers have lavishly put into further fleshing out the world and selling their additions. With their creations given their biographies, and tantalising explanations of the gameplay. Far more effort than you’d think would be needed for a game like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Unspeakable monstrosities await you in the World of Monsters.

Nintendo games of the era have an earned reputation for their difficulty. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is no exception to the classic formula, easy to pick up (especially with the manual), fun to master, and just fascinating to behold. Much like how certain films based on N.E.S. classics have to invent situations and characters to make their film adaptation succeed. Here is an N.E.S. game that has to invent characters and situations to make its game adaption work. For a curious platformer as infamous as its source material is captivating, you’ll find that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde make for a winning combination, and not a strange case as first imagined.

It wouldn’t be a N.E.S. game without its difficulty!

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