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The Little Mermaid is a 1991 video game which was developed by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy. It is a single player side-scrolling action game where the player controls Ariel on a quest to defeat Ursula.


The game's plot is an alternate retelling of the original film's third act, and begins as follows.

Ariel, princess of the sea, fell in love with Eric at first sight. She asked Ursula to make her human so she could meet him. He fell in love with her too and planned to marry her. Then one day, Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle came to see Ariel, in a big hurry. They explained that Ursula had cast a spell over the fish of the sea so they would have to do what she wanted. If she wasn't stopped, she would probably take over the whole sea. Ariel decided to go to Ursula's castle to try and release the fish from Ursula's spell. She explained to Eric that she was a mermaid and a princess of the sea, and that she must try to save her friends. Eric tried to convince her not to go, but she turned back into a mermaid, dove into the sea, and began to swim towards Ursula's castle.
―Game Introduction


The game takes place from a side view and Ariel (swimming most of the time, but hopping around on the land occasionally) can shoot bubbles to trap her foes and can then throw them at each other. She can also dig through sand to find treasure and pick up sea shells to break chests open with. The treasure she finds in the sand is usually just bonus points, but the treasure you find in chests will increase your bubble's power and range. The gameplay is similar to other Capcom games such as Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers and DuckTales in that Ariel shoots air bubbles from her tail that when they hit certain enemies, can be picked up and thrown at other enemies or bosses. Ariel can also collect icons scattered throughout the levels to restore health, gain extra lives, or increase the range/power of her air bubbles.

The Little Mermaid was somewhat groundbreaking for two reasons. The first is that it was one of the few games at the time to utilize an aquatic environment in which the playable character was an aquatic creature, and by these standards the gameplay was both more effective than that of such games as Jaws and more permanent than that of Super Mario Bros. 3. The second is that it was one of the first video games to appear Stateside which was aimed specifically at a female demographic.


Sea of Coral

The first level of the game, when Ariel has just turned herself back into a mermaid. It is literally a large coral reef, with many human objects scattered about in treasure chests and some human ruins. The level is fairly short and easy, being the first level of the game, and only contains three types of enemies (evil fish, sea stars, and octopi). The boss of this level is Glut the shark.

Sunken Ship

This level takes place inside a sunken ship, as the title suggests. It is a fairly straightforward level with some new 'ghost' enemies, crabs, and the occasional sea urchin. This level also introduces the mechanic of using a barrel to open treasure chests and the play-style of having Ariel hop on land (during which time she is almost helpless, but can flip her fins fairly quickly to travel where she needs to go). Flotsam and Jetsam are the bosses of this level.

Sea of Ice

In this level, Ursula has frozen a portion of the sea, and Ariel must traverse this frozen wasteland. This level introduces several new enemies and gives Ariel ice physics on land (it is in fact the only stage in which she surfaces, as in the other stages with land components Ariel is merely in air pockets rather than at the surface of the ocean). The Walrus is the boss of this level.

Undersea Volcano

This level introduces many new enemies into the fray, such as large fish enemies that have buried themselves and prawn enemies that attack by swiftly darting backward. Since the area is also set in an active volcano, this is the first level with damaging environmental obstacles. The boss of this level is a soldierfish who shoots fish and sea urchins from the cannons of a sunken Spanish galleon.

Ursula's Castle

This level begins as a maze. The key to solving this maze is to find the dragon-door with flashing red eyes. Go through that door multiple times, until Ariel appears in a long room. From there the level becomes standard. Just beyond giant polyps awaits the boss: the Sea-Witch Ursula at her magical cauldron. Is this the final battle?

Version differences

There are some differences between the NES and the Game Boy versions. When a stage begins, Ariel descends from the top of the screen to the recommended starting point in the NES version, but just starts out in the recommended position in the Game Boy version. The featured sound effects are different in both versions. The start of the stage's BGM can be heard only once in the NES version; although the whole BGM can be repeated in the Game Boy version. The stage backgrounds were more restricted in the Game Boy version than in the NES version. When you lose a heart, the heart turns into a heart frame in the NES version, but disappears in the Game Boy version. The key scales of the Boss BGM are different in both versions. The BGM speed in the NES version is much faster than in the Game Boy version.


Sprite Name Description
Glut the Shark Glut is the boss of the Sea of Coral, and his method of attack is to charge Ariel constantly. Occasionally a fish will swim by for Ariel to use as a weapon. Just four hits and he'll go down.
Flotsam and Jetsam These two are the bosses of the Sunken Ship level. They pop in and out of portholes and attempt to attack Ariel by charging her. Ariel must attack by using incoming crab enemies when one or the other pops out of their hiding place. A solid three hits to each, and they go down.
The Walrus The boss of the Sea of Ice, and the only land-based boss in the game. His strategy is to launch shells at you from above the ice, and you have the option of either grabbing the shells and throwing them back, or using the random fish as your arsenal. Be careful if you join him on land; you have no way to defend yourself unless you nudge a shell! Four hits will do him in.
Soldierfish This fellow is the boss of the Undersea Volcano level. He orders the cannons of a ship to take fire at Ariel and kill her with sea urchins and evil fish. The urchins will burst any bubbles Ariel makes and harm her dearly; they also cannot be contained in bubbles themselves and are only frozen briefly. Four hits and he will go down.

Ursula The final boss of the game, with two forms to defeat. The first phase of the battle has Ursula looking over her cauldron, and firing lightning balls at Ariel which then transform into blue fish, starfish, seahorses, or sea urchins. Use these to deal your blows; six are needed to bring down this form.

The second phase has Ursula become her giant form and she now must be beaten by fast swimming fish. Where the fish come from are dependent on how Ursula controls the tide. There's seaweed in the room; watch which direction the sea-witch blows them and use that to determine where to grab the fish. Seven hits will finish her off for good.

Notable differences from Film

  • Only two of these levels: the Sunken Ship and Ursula's Castle, appeared in the film. Even then, Ursula's castle is totally different from the design in the original film.
  • In this story, Ariel did not give up her voice to be human, and she is able to turn back into a mermaid at will, but not vice versa.
  • Ursula, in her gigantic form during the second battle against her stands atop a platform similar to the one in her lair during the first battle against her. In the film, she stands taller than the depth of the ocean.
  • In the third and final scene of the ending which shows Ariel and Eric getting married, Ariel does not wear the veil like the film. Also, Ariel's tiara in the game's ending is mint green, as opposed to gold in the film.
  • The walrus and the soldierfish (the bosses of Sea of Ice and Undersea Volcano, respectively) are not canon to the film.
  • In this game, Ariel defeats Ursula in the final round. However, in the film, Ariel is helpless against Ursula's giant form, and it's up to Eric to save the day.
  • The layout of the fifth stage, Ursula's Castle is much different than in the film. It is much larger and has doorways that resemble the face of a serpent, and Ariel must travel up many stories to encounter Ursula (the boss). The lair in the film has only one story, and the distance from the entryway to the main hall is very short. Also, the level has water surfaces revealing the castles' walls to be red; yet in the film, Ursula's lair is completely submerged and several feet below the ocean's surface and its walls are in tones of purple. There are also icy sections and, finally, the polyps are much larger in the video game.


The Little Mermaid's groundbreaking quality was that it was among the very few games marketed to girls. According to Consumer Guide's Super Strategies for Nintendo (1991), it was "the sort of game that girls who play Nintendo have been looking for; [with beautiful graphics but] nothing too scary." The advertisement campaign for the handheld version actually crossed out the "boy" in Gameboy to instead read, "For Gamegirls everywhere." Though the game may have been criticized for its brevity and ease, Game Player's Strategy Guide to Nintendo Games stated that "the action is occasionally enough to challenge experienced players."


  • While Ariel never goes to an ice land during the original film, ice locals appear in the TV series, and one is the location of Morgana's lair in the sequel.
  • A walrus named Dash appears in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, similar to the third boss of this game, but has only a few inches of tusks while the walrus in this game has full-length tusks, and Dash is an ally instead of an enemy.
  • Flotsam and Jetsam, who are the bosses of Sunken Ship are colored green in the game, however they are typically blue in the film and in promotional artwork. The main reason is the 8-bit NES' color restrictions.
  • "Part-Time Mermaid" Tia Michelle Pesando recorded the highest-known score on The Little Mermaid, noting that there appears to be some randomization regarding the treasures found in nooks and crannies and her score thus might only be considered a possible maximum despite her apparently having found all of the treasure in the game. She also noted that the stages' treasure content was not based on difficulty or point in game, but rather upon the environment. Offering a more immersive experience than if each stage simply offered more points than the last, the most treasure-intensive areas are those that are (or were) inhabited by creatures that might logically keep treasure; the Sunken Ship and to a lesser extent Ursula's Castle are filled with treasure, while the Sea of Coral, Sea of Ice, and Undersea Volcano have more occasional or incidental treasure.
  • SNES were in different development apart from NES version and scheduled for debut release but were cancelled.


External links

v - e - d
The Little Mermaid - 2013 Logo.png
Films: The Little Mermaid (video/soundtrack) • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (video) • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (video) • The Little Mermaid (2023 film)

Television: A Poem Is...The Wonderful World of Disney: The Little Mermaid Live!
Video games: NES gameSega Genesis GameAriel's Story StudioKingdom HeartsKingdom Hearts: Chain of MemoriesKingdom Hearts IIThe Little Mermaid 2: Pinball FrenzyDisney's The Little Mermaid: Magic in Two KingdomsDisney Emoji BlitzDisney Heroes: Battle Mode
Books: Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea WitchOfficial Comic AdaptationDisney ComicsThe Little Mermaid's Treasure ChestDisney Princess BeginningsMarvel Comics
Music: The Legacy CollectionSebastian from The Little MermaidSebastian: Party Gras!The Little Mermaid: Songs from the SeaThe Little Mermaid: Splash Hits
Cancelled projects: Little Mermaid's Island

Disney Parks
Mermaid LagoonDisney's Art of Animation ResortAriel's GrottoBlowfish Balloon RaceDisney Animation BuildingFairy Tale ForestFlounder's Flying Fish CoasterIt's a Small WorldJumpin' JellyfishKing Triton's Carousel of the SeaMermaid Lagoon TheaterMickey's PhilharMagicPrincess PavilionScuttle's ScootersSorcerers of the Magic KingdomStorybook Land Canal BoatsThe Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea AdventureThe WhirlpoolVoyage to the Crystal Grotto

Entertainment: AnimagiqueCastle of Magical DreamsDisney Dreams: An Enchanted ClassicDisney KiteTailsDisney's WishesFantasmic!Feel the MagicGolden Fairytale FanfareKing Triton's ConcertMickey's Magical CelebrationMickey's Magical Music WorldMickey and the Magical MapMickey and the Wondrous BookThe Golden MickeysThe Starlit Princess WaltzVillains Tonight!Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Restaurants: Ariel's Grotto
Parades: Celebrate A Dream Come True ParadeDisney's FantillusionDisney's Magical Moments ParadeDisney Carnivale ParadeDisney on ParadeDisney Stars on ParadeFestival of Fantasy ParadeMickey's New Year's Eve ParadeMove It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street PartyMickey's Soundsational ParadePaint The Night ParadeSpectroMagicThe Wonderful World of Disney ParadeWalt Disney's Parade of Dreams
Fireworks: Believe... There's Magic in the StarsCelebrate the MagicDisney Dreams!Disney EnchantmentDisney in the StarsDisneyland ForeverFantasy in the SkyHappily Ever AfterIgnite the Dream: A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and LightMagic, Music and MayhemThe Magic, the Memories and YouMomentousOnce Upon a TimeRemember... Dreams Come TrueWonderful World of AnimationWorld of ColorILLUMINATE! A Nighttime Celebration
Spring: Disney Color-Fest: A Street Party!Disney Pirate or Princess: Make Your Choice
Summer: Stitch's Summer Dance BashSummer Blast
Halloween: Are You Brave Enough?Disney's Not So Spooky SpectacularFrightfully Fun ParadeHappy HallowishesLet's Get WickedRe-Villains! Halloween ParadeThe Villains WorldVillains Night Out! Chapter 2
Christmas: Royal Christmas Wishes

Original: ArielFlounderSebastianScuttlePrince EricKing TritonUrsulaFlotsam and JetsamKing Triton's DaughtersMaxGrimsbyCarlottaChef LouisUrsula's GardenGlutThe Seahorse HeraldHaroldMerpeople

Sequel: MelodyTip and DashAlexMorganaCloak and DaggerUndertowHammerhead SharkFlounder's GuppiesBaby PenguinUrsula and Morgana's Mother
Prequel: Queen AthenaMarina Del ReyBenjaminThe Catfish Club BandStevieElectric Eels
Little Mermaid's Island: SandyScales
TV Series: UrchinGabriellaOllieDudleyPearlPearl's MotherMantaLittle EvilDanielMoraySimonLobster Mobster and Da ShrimpThe SorceressGlowfishEbb and FloEmpreror Shargaand the SharkaniansOctopidBrain SpongeZeusSpot the Killer WhaleCrab ScoutsHans Christian AndersenLuckyThorAugustusStormy the Giant SeahorseThe Magical Wishing StarfishHowling HairfishApolloArchimedesSeaclopsNeptune
Comic Book: IndigoMarlin the MagicianJenny
Remake: PerlaKarina

Season One: "Whale of a Tale" • "The Great Sebastian" • "Stormy" • "Urchin" • "Double Bubble" • "Message in a Bottle" • "Charmed" • "Marriage of Inconvenience" • "The Evil Manta" • "Thingamajigger" • "Red" • "Beached" • "Trident True" • "Eel-Ectric City"

Season Two: "Resigned to It" • "Calliope Dreams" • "Save the Whale" • "Against the Tide" • "Giggles" • "Wish Upon a Starfish" • "Tail of Two Crabs" • "Metal Fish" • "T'ank You For Dat, Ariel"
Season Three: "Scuttle" • "King Crab" • "Island of Fear" • "Land of the Dinosaurs" • "Heroes" • "The Beast Within" • "Ariel's Treasures" • "A Little Evil"

Prince Eric's StatueTridentUrsula's CauldronUrsula's NecklaceMelody's locketQueen Athena's music boxDinglehopperRoyal ShipThe Wedding Ship
AtlanticaAriel's Secret GrottoUrsula's LairPrince Eric's CastleMorgana's Ice Cave
Films: Fathoms BelowDaughters of King TritonPart of Your WorldUnder the SeaPoor Unfortunate SoulsLes PoissonsKiss the GirlDown to the SeaFor a MomentTip and DashHere on the Land and SeaEndless SkyJust One MistakeJump in the Line (Shake, Senora)I RememberMan Smart (Woman Smarter)I Will Sing

TV Series: Just a Little LoveYou Got to be YouThe Edge of the Edge of the SeaThe Lobster Mobster's MobThe Beddy Bye BluesSing a New SongIn HarmonyThis is the LifeNever Give UpYou Wouldn't Want to Mess with MeThe Sound of LaughterDaring to DanceJust Give Me a ChanceEvil Lullaby
Musical: She's in LoveHuman StuffPositoovityI Want the Good Times BackStorm at SeaDaddy's Little AngelHer VoiceThe World AboveThe ContestIf OnlyBeyond My Wildest DreamsSweet ChildOne Step CloserAll Good Things Must End
Songs from the Sea: The Sea KingdomWhat's It Like to Be a Mermaid?The Scuttle StrutThere's Only One ArielHe's a FriendAt the Mermaids' BallParty With MeMy Room in the SeaDreamingH2O, What a Feeling!We Share the EarthWhere Mermaids Dwell
Splash Hits: Sea-Floor Strut • Please Don't Wake the Whale • Reef with a View • In My Blue BackyardHome is
Deleted: Silence is GoldenGonna Get My Wish
Other: One Dance

See Also
MusicalThe Disney AfternoonDisney Sing Along Songs: Under the Sea