Shoots against the walls of heartache
I have this headcanon with me Ai Senshi Nicol, that it’s about a female protagonist who is looking to save his girlfriend. It’s not much of a stretch. The title translates to Love Warrior Nicol (maybe they meant Nicole, but the English text spells it Nicol). The main character has light pink hair (which is not strictly gendered, just to be clear). Their name is Nicol. Maybe it’s an improbable subtitle for a game that was released earlier Kapris and Castro, but a girl can dream. Sometimes I wish the 80’s video games were a little more lively.
Ai Senshi Nicol is a top-down, flip-screen shooter from Konami. If you think The Guardian Legend but without the shoot-em-up sections I have to take your word for it because it’s been years since I last played it. I mostly only remember the amazing heroine who could be turned into a spaceship. Maybe the top-down episodes from Blaster Master is a better reference point. The plot is that you have to save your girlfriend, who is not named Nicole. It’s Stella.
Your job is to collect three crystals on each level. They are hidden in underground parts of each scene and are largely scattered to the far corners. To reach them, you have to make some easy top-down platform games and shoot through a plethora of bad guys. There is no immediate death. Even if you screw up a jump, you just fall into an underground area and have to climb out to continue. It’s nice because death means you start over on stage.
To avoid having to repeat whole stages, you need to look for power-ups. Astro Wear, Astro Pants, Power Shoes and others. Oh, I see you’re already wearing your Astro pants. Because your butt is out of this world.
As silly as the nomenclature is, it’s really important to look for this equipment. Astro Wear reduces the damage you take, Power Shoes make you walk faster and Astro Pants prevent space lava from scalding your hyperbones. These are not released by enemies, which is lucky, as it reduces the amount of grinding you may be tempted to do. Instead, they are littered throughout the environment and give Ai Senshi Nicol a hint of resource management. You will have an easier time if you refill early and then do not die. The Raiden or Gradius strategy.
The game is extremely uncomplicated. The shooting, the platform game and the exploration are extremely good. Although not exceptional, it is quite tight, which is never guaranteed with 8-bit games. It’s fun, just not downright inventive.
Where it stands out is its variety of enemies, excellent sprite work and musical score. That’s not exactly it The journey to Silius when it comes to soundtrack, but it has some good bops. After all, it’s Konami, and I can not name one of their Famicom games that had a bad soundtrack. Wait, I’m going to try … No, it’s not coming to me.
The place there Ai Senshi Nicol satisfies most are in their secrets. Since you are a Famicom Disk System game, you can save, but it may be best to get in the habit of restarting the game. Some power-ups are significantly better than your regular Cosmo Ball. There are hidden upgrades that increase your health and your weapon. They are used sparingly and only at certain levels, so finding out where they are can give you a huge advantage in the final stages of the game.
Even without them, Ai Senshi Nicol has no deadly challenge. With a little patience it all goes, but it might be a little more fun if you get nice and doped Nicol. There are seven levels in total, which makes the savings system almost a requirement. You can probably beat it in one afternoon, just make no other plans.
Although I’m not on the hunt for my favorite Famicom discoveries, Ai Senshi Nicol is definitely worth the time, especially if you are looking for something to put in your disk system. What it lacks in memorability, it compensates by being just a quality game. Of course, you might remember it better if you adopt my gay main cannon for it.
Aside from the title screen logo, I do not remember seeing a single spot of Japanese text in it Ai Senshi Nicol. There is no dialogue (except Oh! Mygod.) And the inventory screen is in English. A more useful translation would be for the manual, but there is no information there that you can not find anywhere else on the internet.
Like many Konami Famicom games, Ai Senshi Nicol was re-released once on mobile phones in 2006. However, it was never located, even though it would have suited the 3DS Virtual Console well. Konami has released some surprising collections lately, so we keep our fingers crossed that we will see something that rounds off their early releases that do not necessarily fit into a longer series. Play like Ai Senshi Nicol, Getsu Fuuma Denand Yume Penguin Monogatari. Again, a girl can dream.
Check out previous Famicom Fridays here.