Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

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Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Our gaming culture has a tendency to pull mediocre games up from their forgotten graves and give them new life in things like Twitch streams, YouTube videos, or other mediums. Something widely ignored at the time of the game’s release becomes either engrossing to modern players or hilarious to revisit. Today’s game is one such game that has taken on a new identity as one of the worst games of the NES thanks a certain angry YouTuber. Today’s game is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, developed by Advance Communication Co. and released on the NES is 1988.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is very loosely based on the famed novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. If you aren’t familiar, the quick run-down is a scientist, Dr. Jekyll creates a chemical that transforms his appearance and his personality so that he can do all of the things that he wasn’t allowed to do by society without being arrested or shunned. This NES game has Dr. Jekyll heading to a church for his upcoming wedding with Miss Millicent.

Gameplay has Dr. Jekyll walking from left to right across the screen. A number of people and animals obstruct the Doctor’s path and can hurt him along the way. Each of these encounters can decrease Jekyll’s life meter but will certainly increase his anger meter. When the anger meter reaches the top, the game turns to night and the player plays as Mr. Hyde instead, this time traveling from right to left at a set pace. By destroying enemies as Mr. Hyde, the player can transform back into Dr. Jekyll but if Mr. Hyde reaches the same location as Dr. Jekyll on the level, they will both die and the player will receive a game over. This is true for five levels of the game but the last level is a race to the finish with the ending of the game changing depending on whether Mr. Hyde or Dr. Jekyll makes it to the church first.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was never particularly well received. The gameplay was confusing and it often wasn’t clear why things were happening on the screen. Dr. Jekyll would take damage from seemingly innocuous sprites such as a woman walking by with a parasol. Still, it wasn’t seen as the worst game on the NES and was quickly forgotten. However, the game was later rediscovered and many critics and influencers flocked to review this game. The reviews have only gotten worse with many now calling it an unplayable mess. Eurogamer listed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as number 8 of their worst games of the 80’s. Game Informer called it flawed on a fundamental level. Whether Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde deserves the ridicule or not, it is an interesting look into how games can have many different public faces.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.