The Retro Critic

King Neptune’s Adventure

I’ve played a lot of bad games in my day.

A lot of bad Color Dreams games, in fact.

But King Neptune’s Adventure is… pretty bad.

I’ve been predominantly looking at decent enough games lately so I thought I’d mix it up a bit but I forgot that this meant playing something really not very good.

An unlicenced Color Dreams game for the NES, King Neptune’s Adventure is, as the title suggests, an adventure game in which you play as King Neptune and go around killing starfish and clams, among other things.

I’ll let the game explain its own plot:

Text Intro Neptune

Seems simple enough.

There are hidden treasures to find which are scattered around the game in weird places:


Such a bizarre mix of items.

Peace and Love?


Can’t believe “Happiness” is a hidden treasure.

That said, at least I know what that concept looks like now (a Menorah).

There are also dollar bills to find throughout the game and every single time you find one, the screen flashes inexplicably for a moment. Now, I’m not sure how useful money can be to someone like Neptune but he seems really excited when he finds some so I guess he’s greedier than I though.

Dollar Bill Neptune

I suppose he’s got bills to pay like all of us.

Purple underwater castles don’t run themselves, after all.

Let’s be realistic here.

Purple Castle Neptune

Even if the inside of the castle is pretty bare.

Speaking of which, in order to finish one of the levels, you need to pick up a gold crown which happens to be on the top left corner of the castle’s main hall:

Crown Neptune's Adventure

How you would know it was up there going in is beyond me and, chances are, you’ll be going through the entire level back and forth until trying everything else and finally finding the crown by mistake.

This is actually one of the game’s main problems: it can be cryptic and not in a good way.

Some of the secrets you need to find aren’t bonuses, they’re stuff you need to actually proceed in the game. So when they place those in random corners you would never think to look into, it makes it really frustrating.

If you kill that fish that’s randomly floating at the top of the castle and then take a left, even though logic dictates that you go right first, you’ll meet this guy:

Dolphin Neptune's Adventure

Believe it or not, that’s meant to be a dolphin.


A red dolphin.

Red Dolphin

Fair enough.

It looks like the dolphin’s wearing a crown as well, which is even stranger.

And if that’s not goofy enough for ya, the dolphin talks:

Dolphin Says Neptune

Oh great, good thing you told me that now I spent an hour killing sea life needlessly.

Besides, you would think that Neptune would know the location of a giant gold crown inside his own castle!

And I’m not sure why that dolphin is so darn knowledgable anyway.

Anyhow, you go back towards where the sword is and battle a barrage of enemies which have all re-spawned since you killed them the last time, of course.

Thunderbolt Neptune

The enemies in question float around erratically and are a real pain to get rid of. Some you can just shoot lightning bolts at and they leave behind a power-up, others leave a smaller version of themselves behind you need to shoot at again.

Tiny Shark Neptune

Believe it or not, this tiny thing was a proper shark seconds ago.

Another weapon you can find and use which comes in handy when fighting the bigger or more awkwardly placed enemies is the bubble bomb:

Weapons Neptune's Adventure

You basically throw ’em and when they reach where you want them to blow up, push A or B and they explode.

As the game states, some bosses you can only kill with bubble bombs.

Like this Blanka-style boss, for example:

Blanca Dragon Neptune

This one’s not only hard to beat because you need to somehow get the bomb to him without getting shot at yourself but also because the moving Pong-like platform in the middle constantly gets in your way.

That particular boss pops up again later and he’s one of the most intimidating bad guys in the game. He’s not as annoying to beat as this skeleton, though:

Skeleton Neptune's Adventure

I mean, if you use a bomb he’s easily gotten rid off but you need to shoot that at him as soon as you walk into this room because otherwise he’ll throw tons of projectiles at you.

The enemies and their projectiles in this game have no rhyme or reason. They just fly around and there’s no way to guess where they’ll land. This makes most of the game hair-pullingly annoying.

Now these sprites don’t look too threatening:

Inside Boat Neptune's Adventure

But get them to gyrate uncontrollably all over the screen to the point where shooting at them is almost useless and you’ve got yourself one time-waster of a level.

Luckily, by the time you get to the maze, the enemies are much more static:

Maze Enemies Neptune

That said, the game still finds creative ways to annoy you.

Case and point, this part:

Neptune New Crown

Seems easy enough, right?

Just go through towards the crown and pick it up?

Well no, turns out this dark area between you and the crown has deadly moving vines in it. They’re not hard to get through when you know they’re there but, come on, who would ever see them the first time around?

There’s trial and error and there’s just setting needlessly cruel traps.

Why would you willingly punish anyone playing this game?

Playing it should be punishment enough!

There’s really very few good things I can say about King Neptune’s Adventure, if any. The graphics are completely inconsistent and range from colourful enough:

Neptune Temple Fight

To confusing:

Dragons Neptune's Adventure

To lazy:

Doors Neptune's Adventure

To just plain crappy:

Back Of Boat

It doesn’t help that the music is as irritating as it is and that the game is unnecessarily confusing and badly put together. Honestly, people complain that Milon’s Secret Castle is cryptic but I kinda like that game, it’s at least easy enough to control and somewhat fun to play!

Until you get stuck, of course.

I like that King Neptune’s Adventure has a map to help you out, I mean just look at it:

Map Neptune's Adventure

I’ll take my chances just going through random doors, thank you very much.

Oh, I should mention that every time you die, this message pops up:

Quest OVer

Pressing A and START sounds easy enough but, trust me, if you don’t do it just right, you’ll be sent right back to the very beginning quicker than you can say “Noooooo.”

Some of the game’s other quirky highlights include Tribbles straight out of Star Trek:

Star Trek Balls

Very organised worms:

Worms Neptune's Adventure

Royal snails:

Snails Neptune's Adventure

And the final boss which, I’ll admit, looks pretty intimidating:

Black Octopus Boss

The octopus isn’t too hard to beat if you have bombs left, of course, but it’s still a worthy final challenger.

Quite probably my favourite part of the game, however, has to be the ending.

After such an unpleasant gaming experience, you’ll really need a good laugh or a “lol” at least. And, thankfully, the game offers you the concept of underwater fireworks right at the end:

Night Castle Fireworks

Gotta love Neptune partying down by himself after killing so many of his own subjects.

There is the odd Color Dreams game that’s worth a look, I’ll admit, but this isn’t one of them. King Neptune’s Adventure has unpleasant graphics, annoying controls, frustrating level design and it’s just overall pretty bad.

Can’t recommend this one, I’m afraid.

Even if that final piece of text is so underwhelming it’s actually kinda great:

Ending Title

Talk about an 8-bit slap in the face