Nintendo is Great – Nuts & Milk (Famicom, 1984)

The series Nintendo is Great will explore every game ever released for a Nintendo console/handheld, beginning with the Famicom.

 

 

NUTS & MILK

 

PUBLISHER/DEVELOPER: Hudson Soft

RELEASE DATE: 07/28/1984 (JP)

ALSO ON: MSX, FM-7, Sharp X1, NEC PC-6001, NEC PC-8801, Commodore 64 (known as Hot Pop), Mobile, Virtual Console (Wii, 3DS, Wii U)

FEATURED IN: Hudson Collection Vol. 4: Nazotoki Collection for Game Boy Advance

 

Believe it or not, Nuts & Milk is a landmark game for the Famicom. Not only is it the first third-party release on the console, a little over a year after its launch in July 1983. It’s also the first Famicom game to have more than a handful of distinct levels. Up until this point, games like Donkey Kong, Popeye and Mario Bros. relied on a few different level templates before repeating them for later stages. Repeating levels were completely normal and expected for the early 1980s. Nuts & Milk (or more accurately, Hudson Soft) said Nuts to that and crafted fifty unique levels for energetic players. That’s some #content, right there.

 

Nuts gazes vacantly into your soul.

 

In Nuts & Milk, you control Milk, a pink substance that sort of resembles a blob. Milk must collect all the fruit in each stage and avoid Nuts, an obnoxious blue substance that chases you around the stage. Once the fruit is collected, Milk’s fianceé Yogurt appears from her house crying “Help! Help!” Reach Yogurt to cease her whining and move on to the next stage.

 

“Maybe if you hadn’t built your house after two trampolines, I’d be there faster!”

 

The levels are simple one-screen affairs. Bricks, pipes, trampolines, rope, and water are the materials most frequently used in each level. Design is often built around Milk’s movement limitations, which can make collecting fruit and maneuvering around each stage tricky. For example, Milk can walk and jump, but jumping isn’t always easy. If Milk isn’t moving, he can jump in place, but not forward, and he can’t jump at all when on a rope. As such, in later levels, leaps of faith using trampolines and rope are often required to collect precariously placed pieces of fruit. Couple these delicate movements with Nuts’ incessant need to destroy Milk, and you have a surprisingly tense experience.

 

I ain’t ‘fraid of no Nuts.

 

Even though Nuts & Milk plays like it came straight out of an early 80s arcade palace, its roots lie in the Japanese computer. According to Wikipedia, the game was released for the MSX, FM-7, NEC PC-6001 and 8801, and the Sharp X1, in addition to a Commodore 64 port known as Hot Pop. Versions of the game were also released for mobile and the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U Virtual Console, along with an appearance in a Hudson Soft game collection for the GBA. Save for the C64 port, which was released in PAL territories (and possibly NTSC), Nuts & Milk has only ever been released in Japan.

 

Milk ponders his horrible existence.

 

The home computer versions retain the same basic elements of the Famicom version – collect fruit, avoid Nuts and his cronies, get to Yogurt – but the stages look completely… different. Worse, actually. Much, much worse. All platforming was also removed in favor of “puzzle-solving,” according to MobyGames. Poor graphics and lack of platforming certainly had to do with the computers’ limitations. I understand why Hudson Soft made these computer ports (multiple revenue streams are always better than one), but the Famicom version is the definitive way to play. The only computer port that resembles the Famicom version is Hot Pop on Commodore 64.

 

I want nothing to do with whatever this is.*

 

Nuts & Milk has a surreal, cutesy vibe that’s both endearing and slightly unsettling. Who are these creatures with their enormous eyes, blob-like bodies, and inability to jump properly? Underneath the pastels and bizarre cartoonish cast lies a challenging puzzle platformer that takes considerable time to conquer. Fifty stages, two different difficulties, and even a basic level editor meant you got your yen’s worth. Sure, you could just skip stages by pressing ‘Select’ if you want to reach the end, but… the end? Such a concept was foreign to most console and arcade games at the time. Games didn’t end. Their high scores were meant to be broken. Nuts & Milk brought console games into their inevitable future. For that, we should be grateful.

 

B

 

Happily ever after. At least until all the bills and children show up.

 

*screenshot courtesy of MobyGames!

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