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Märchen Maze

version: jp - year: 1991 - developer: namco/ sps - publisher: sps - format: x68000, 2 disks - condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

"Märchen" is a German term referring to folktales characterized by elements of magic.


The game package is nice although the instruction manual is disappointing as it is just black and white with no artwork. To access a hidden options menu, press SHIFT + HELP. You'll be able to toggle between the X68000 and the Arcade version, to set your continues to infinite and to change the difficulty mode to easy or very hard.


Mame Arcade screenshot. Last Boss. To quickly kill the queen, stay on this safe-spot going back and forth shooting the queen till she dies.


The X68000 ending sequence consists of a few screenshots clearly referencing Alice in Wonderland.


The End

Review - Loosely based on the tale of Alice in Wonderland, Märchen Maze is an unusual isometric shooter with elements of a platformer.

Ported from Namco's 1988 coin-op, this fantastic port is almost identical to the arcade original, and significantly different from the PC Engine adaptation (which is almost a different game).

Graphically, the style is warm and somewhat naive, with vivid colors and Super Deformed characters.

The clever use of parallax scrolling, coupled with the competent sprite-work make for a great technical package, even if at times when too much is going on on-screen, I did notice a subtle drop in the frame rate.

Although there is no MIDI support, the music and sound effects work really well within the context of the game while gameplay is what makes Märchen Maze one of the best shooters on X68000.

When going through the 9 levels which make up the entire game, you'll be able to collect power ups or extra time while enemies will often literally flood the screen.

You won't have a smart bomb to clear the screen, but you'll sometimes come across a very useful shield (although it only lasts a few seconds) and more importantly, you'll be able to skip projectiles by jumping over them.

Interestingly, getting hit wont get you killed but falling off edges will. Get hit by several projectiles or collide with an enemy and chances are you'll get pushed off the playing field, losing a life. This aspect adds a nice twist to a shooter which is already filled with character and originality.

By keeping the fire button pressed, you'll basically charge up a stronger projectile. You can either shoot it to take out several enemies at once, or you can just walk around with it and hit enemies at close range.

Bottom line: To conclude, don't let the cute presentation fool you, Märchen Maze is a hardcore intense shooter aimed at the indomitable shmuppers out there and it is worth every minute of it! 9/10










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