Gimmick! is a side-scrolling platformer developed and published by Sunsoft for the Family Computer in Japan on January 31, 1992. It later received a European release, as Mr. Gimmick, on May 19, 1993.
Players control a small green youkai named Yumetaro ("Mr. Gimmick" in the overseas version), who was mistaken as a toy and was given to a young girl for her birthday. When the other toys become jealous of him, they come to life and kidnap the owner, leaving Yumetaro to venture through the alternate dimension to rescue her.
One of the key mechanics of the game is generating large stars from the horn on Yumetaro's head. Along with being his primary method of attacking, stars can double as a makeshift platform for him to reach otherwise inaccessible areas.
Developed late into the Famicom/NES lifespan, the game was scheduled for a worldwide release. This version was only released in small quantities in the Northern European (Scandinavian) market, distributed by Bergsala. It is one of the rarest overseas releases for that system, even in its released market.
The game was later ported to the Sony PlayStation, bundled with a port of Battle Formula as part of the Japanese 2002 compilation Memorial Series: Sunsoft vol. 6. It also received an enhanced arcade port by Team EXA-AM1 using their PC-based exa-Arcadia hardware on December 31, 2020 (as Gimmick! EXACT★MIX). The arcade version features updated arcade-style gameplay mechanics, higher-definition graphics, an arranged soundtrack, and new game modes (including a Time Attack mode and a mode to alter the stage order).
Mr. Gimmick is a side-scrolling platformer. Mr. Gimmick's only weapon and tool is a star he can create and throw. The star is used to defeat enemies, and can be used to solve simple environmental puzzles.
The star features a simple physics system that affects how it bounces depending on from where it's dropped; the higher it's dropped from, the higher it will bounce. And so if Mr. Gimmick jumps before throwing it, or throws it from a platform, it will bounce higher. Mr. Gimmick can also stand on top of the star as it bounces if he jumps on top of it. Jumping on a thrown star is required to progress in some areas of the game.
In the game's first six levels, Mr. Gimmick must find a hidden item somewhere in the stage, and then defeat the boss at he end. As stated above, to get the good ending and rescue the girl, Mr. Gimmick must collect the hidden item in every level to make the final, secret level appear, and defeat the final boss. If any of the hidden items are missed, or any continues are used, the game will end after the boss on level 6, resulting in a bad ending where the girl is not rescued.
The intro opens with a girl blowing out candles on her birthday. She receives a present which turns out to be Mr. Gimmick, a plush toy doll. She loves him more than any of her other toys. Because of this, the other toys get jealous and kidnap the girl while she sleeps, taking her into the dimension of toys. Now it's up to Mr. Gimmick to save her.
Mr. Gimmick features two endings. In order to get the good ending, the player must collect a secret item in each of the first six stages of the game without using any continues. Only by doing this is the path to the true final stage and boss unlocked.
- The Japanese version of the game starts Mr. Gimmick out with three lives, while the Scandinavian version starts him out with seven lives.
- The Japanese release had a special version of the AY-3-8910 sound chip, also used in the Amstrad CPC and Atari ST computers, embedded in the MMC chip to help the regular Famicom sound chip with the music. This sound chip was not embedded in the MMC in the Scandinavian release because the NES does not have pins on the connector for external sound chips, instead having four pins for the lockout chip. Because of this, the Scandinavian version's soundtrack is reworked to only use the internal NES sound chip. As a result, some instruments are missing in some songs, or sometimes sound different than in the Japanese version.
- The Scandinavian release, like most of Sunsoft's PAL releases, is optimized for 50hz. Because of this, the soundtrack does not sound correctly when played on an NTSC NES console. Not just that it runs faster, but the digitized drums and DPCM sounds are especially affected. Since the graphics have also been tweaked for the PAL NES, there are also major graphics glitches when playing on an NTSC NES.
- The game uses a custom mapper chip, the Sunsoft FME-7, which enhances the graphics capabilities of the console. This was included in both the Japanese and Scandinavian release, though the Japanese version includes the AY-3-8910 sound chip embedded as mentioned previously. Having a custom MMC chip was pretty common for Famicom games, but on the NES it was very unusual. Most other third party games that used a custom mapper chip, like Konami's Contra, were reworked for Nintendo's MMC chips when released for NES. This chip, together with the sound chip in the Japanese release, probably added up to make this an expensive game to manufacture.