|Platform(s)||Arcade, X68000, PC Engine, Wii (Virtual Console)|
|Mode(s)||Up to two players, alternating turns|
|Cabinet||Upright, cabaret, and cocktail|
|Arcade system||Namco System 1|
|Display||Horizontal orientation, raster, 288 x 224 resolution|
Märchen Maze (メルヘンメイズ Meruhen Meizu) is a platform and shoot 'em up arcade game that was released by Namco in 1988 only in Japan. It runs on Namco System 1 hardware, and was later ported to the X68000 and PC Engine platforms, as well as released for Virtual Console. It is inspired on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In it, a girl named Alice enters a mirror world to save it from an evil queen. "Märchen" is the German word for "fairy tale".
The player must take control of Alice, as she makes her way through nine isometric stages. Alice is able to blow bubbles at enemies to knock them off the platforms and she can collect various powerups along the way. Holding the fire button down generates bigger bubbles, but if it is held down for too long, it will burst and she will start blowing a new one. The enemies retaliate by shooting marbles at her (which can cause her to fall over the edge of the platforms unless they are avoided or jumped over). The seventh, eighth and ninth stages are palette-swapped versions of the second, fourth and first ones respectively, but they feature different enemy types and bosses.
One night, Alice falls asleep while reading a fairy tale picture book and is awaken by a call from within a wall mirror. A rabbit appears in the mirror and tells her that his country and eight other lands has been conquered by an evil witch known as the Queen of Darkness and Alice is the only child who has love and courage to restore peace. The girl is pulled inside the mirror world and given a magic straw to attack with soap bubbles. After the Queen is defeated, Alice wakes up thinking it was just a nightmare, but finds the phrase "Thanks [sic] you!" written on the mirror and on a cake.
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In 1998, the Naniwa (the game's equivalents of Tweedledee and Tweedledum) went on to lend their name to one of the new stadiums (the Naniwa Dome), for the Namco System 12-era World Stadium games, but they did not appear in the Namco All Stars' lineup. In 2002, Alice was featured as a secret playable character in Family Tennis Advance. In 2005, Yujin released gashapon figures of Alice and Tokei Usagi (the game's equivalent of the White Rabbit) as part of their "Namco Girls" collection, even though the latter is male. The game's music is included in several of Namco compilation soundtracks.
- Official website
- Märchen Maze at the Killer List of Videogames
- Märchen Maze at the Arcade History database
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