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Video Game / Milon's Secret Castle

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Milon's Secret Castle is a sidescrolling game released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986 in Japan and 1988 in North America, and developed by Hudson Soft. It's one of the least intuitive games of all time, second only to Activision's Super Pitfall. The game was later ported to the Game Boy in 1993.

Your Player Character, the titular Milon, is dressed in a very pixellated representation of blue overalls (or perhaps pajamas) and a blue hat. Your mission is to rescue Queen Eliza, who is held captive by the Evil Warlord Maharito, by struggling through several rooms filled with secrets and enemies. Your means of defense (or offense, as the case may be, although at times you may feel very much more hunted than hunter) is an infinite supply of bubbles. One hit is enough to take down most enemies, although the majority of them require concentration to be hit. Health capacity is small, but Milon can expand it by collecting items resembling honeycombs.

It received a Super Famicom sequel of sorts in DoReMi Fantasy, which exchanges the block puzzles for platforming and is only really related in that it also happens to star Milon, who still has his trademark Bubble Gun.

This game provides examples of:

  • Actually a Doombot: In the final level, you have to defeat Maharito. However, there are several rooms. One has the real Maharito and the others have fakes. You have to defeat the real one to win the game, and which room has the real one is randomized. The fakes are actually lesser enemies disguised as him. Making it worse is that all of them can harm you.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Game Boy expands the ending, showing Milon and Eliza getting married.
  • A Winner Is You: The NES version ends with a bland "Thank you!" The Game Boy version thankfully improves the ending by showing Milon and Eliza getting married, which is much more rewarding.
  • Band Land: The bonus stages are patterned entirely on musical notation.
  • Big Bad: Maharito.
  • Bonus Stage: By touching certain boxes, Milon is transported to an area in which he collects music notes to earn money.
  • Bubble Gun: Milon shoots bubbles to defeat his foes. It works.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Subverted. You can continue if you know the code. Otherwise, you're screwed. Thankfully averted in the Game Boy port, which gives you a password on a Game Over.
  • Classic Cheat Code: Want to continue your game when you get a Game Over? You'll need to know a special button input! Note 
  • Company Cameo: Hudson Soft's Hudson Bee appears as a powerup which grants you a protective barrier.
  • Conspicuous Electric Obstacle: One of the rooms has blocks with electric currents between them.
  • Continuing is Painful: While you do keep your items, you start with the same four bars of health you started the game with, no matter how many health extensions you got before. You have to grind your way back up to full health off of random drops from enemies, or grind money to buy a refill.
  • Damsel in Distress: Queen Eliza, the queen you are trying to save, is being held captive by Mahirito.
  • Decoy Damsel: A bit before the final fight with Mahirito, you can encounter what appears to be Queen Eliza. If you reach her area and make contact with her, it turns out to have been one of Mahirito's minions in disguise and attacks you.
  • Disconnected Side Area: There is an area within the first room that taunts you with a large stash of money. The area is only accessible once you reach the third floor of the castle.
  • Door to Before: The game has this in each of the accessible rooms from outside the castle. The only difference is that you actually have to find the door by blasting a bubble at its location, and then find its key.
  • Escape Rope: The balloon, dropped only by the eye enemies in the well.
  • Fake Difficulty: Infinitely Respawning Enemies, no Mercy Invincibility, and completely unintuitive roadblocks.
  • Final Boss: Mahirito.
  • Game Over: And over and over and over.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: As is the typical case with video games at this time, Mahirito is given no personality and is just there to be the villain.
  • The Good Queen: Queen Eliza, the queen you are trying to rescue.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • To continue in the game, you must push certain blocks aside. There is no "pushing" animation or change when you move up against a block. Nowhere in the game or manual does it say that this can be done. The one block you must push looks exactly like all the others in the game. The Angry Video Game Nerd was not amused.
      • The Gameboy version's manual DOES state this, in the section titled "For Frustrated Players." They knew by then that the lack of hint towards that solution was unfair enough that people would need to look it up.
    • It got even worse when the Nerd found out the game's Nintendo Power hint section coverage was titled "Getting Started" as opposed to something like "Reaching the Minus World" or "Accessing Zelda's Second Quest."
    • The Famicom release even came with a full detailed guide for the game, though you're encouraged not to read it unless you're completely stuck.
  • Heart Container: Mercifully present, although rare and difficult to find.
  • Hit Points: This is mercifully not a game with a one or two hit death like many other games at the time.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Milon and his Bubble Gun.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Milon can do this with a potion and a boxing glove.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Only outside. Stay out too long and nighttime will slam into effect, along a torrential downpour of lightning flakes. It reverts back to day if you can survive the lightning.
  • Invisible Block: In the rooms with the fake queens, made solid by shooting them and visible with the paint item.
  • Jump Physics: Vital to success. Buying different kinds of shoes stacks up progressively more unrealistic and useful jumping abilities.
  • Kill It with Water: The water-pot will let you kill the flame enemies—And is required for the fake queens.
  • Meaningful Titles: The game is all about secrets, making it one of the least intuitive games of all time.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Averted, Milon has no recovery time, which means he can be killed very quickly.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Many of the puzzles are complicated. For example, early on, you have to shoot out a couple of blocks, then run against another block until it moves, than shoot a bubble at the space where the block previously was to reveal a hidden shop door.
  • Money for Nothing: Money is vitally important to progressing, but one particular room, unlike others, regenerates its money.
  • Nintendo Hard: Just go look at the description for Nintendo Hard and you've basically got a summation of this game.
  • Nuclear Candle: The lantern reveals all platforms in the first part of the well.
  • One Bullet at a Time: Sprite example. The game has keys which appear as sprites. If too many sprites (such as enemies) are already on the screen, the key won't be drawn; you have to clear out some of the enemies, leave the screen, and come back for the key to appear.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Assuming Milon isn't wearing overalls. The hat he's wearing looks like a night cap, which makes it hard to tell.
  • Palette Swap: Some of the bosses are just recolored versions of previous bosses.
  • Password Save: In the Game Boy port, The password saving was added.
  • Primary-Color Champion: Milon's hat is blue, and his pajamas/overalls are a mix of red and blue.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Rags to Royalty: Milon was just an average commoner originally. After saving Queen Eliza, they marry and he becomes king in the Game Boy port.
  • Respawning Enemies: The common enemies respawn after just a few seconds. The bosses never do, which is nice; some of their lairs are vital access points to other parts of the castle.
  • Rule of Seven: Seven demons to kill, each bearing a crystal ball.
  • Save the Princess: The point of the game to rescue a queen but, basically, it's the same.
  • Springs, Springs Everywhere: But not a bounce to be made on them until the spring shoes are bought.
  • Standard Hero Reward: In the Game Boy port, after Milon saves the queen, they get married.
  • Virtuous Bees: The Hudson bee appears to give you a mobile forcefield.