Lum’s Wedding Bell

Is it just me, or does Lum have devil horns on her head?

Review Date: February 22, 2021

Release Date: October 23, 1986 (Japan date used; the game was never released in North America)

Platform: NES (or technically Famicom)

Publisher: Jaleco

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: Remember on the Goonies review how I said I was looking for variety? Well, one way I am doing that is by looking outside the US for games. I also noticed a huge lack of playable female characters (which will turn around when I get to the newer games), so I came across this. Keep in mind that knew NOTHING about the related manga, other than its existence, for this game and tried to avoid researching it in order to judge the game on its own lack of merits.

Description: Obviously, the lead of Lum’s Wedding Bell is Lum. Lum has to climb five buildings while racing a blazing fire that rises from the floor. The fire essentially serves as a time limit. Meanwhile, Lum will be bombarded by birds, men, and unidentifiable things. She has to get to the roof of each building, where, as anyone should be able to predict, she has to jump into a UFO to go to the next level.

What the…? This is the wedding, but what is the guy doing on the ground, and why was he wearing a karate suit?

Positives: I like the idea behind the game. As she goes through levels, the lead gets older and I get to follow her from preschooler to young woman.

Negatives: Get comfortable. This could be a while.

I’ll start with the graphics. I can’t be sure if it’s Jaleco’s doing or somebody hacked the version I was playing, but some of the sprites were just utter garbage. Two of the enemies sprites were simply junk data. I think Lum’s junior high sprite was hacked; it’s the only one where she’s wearing a dress (minus the chapel) and she’s blonde.

This is an example of that. Lum’s sprite is messed up and the enemies above her are unidentifiable.

While I could blame the major sprite errors on a hacker or perhaps a Famicom/NES conversion, I can blame the developers for the ugly colors chosen and the level design. The fire, used as a quasi time limit, just looks like colored static. Going left or right when reaching a new floor is just guesswork. Lum doesn’t have time for that when the building is on fire. Buildings generally all look the same, but the colors vary.

Of course, most players will never see anything past the Infant School level because the game is so unbearably hard. I had to save state my way through this mess to have any prayer of getting through it. Players will see the Infant School level and maybe even the Elementary School level and think, “Hey, this game might be playable after all.” Wrong! The Junior High School level sends them back to reality. New enemies get mixed into the fray, and by time Lum gets to Studio, there are men everywhere trying to shoot her, creatures dropping in from the ceiling, and birds flying around everywhere. Most of them randomly appear and could lead to an ambush.

OK, how did this guy get here and why is he after Lum? Go away!

Lum finally grows up and after the Studio level, she swaps out the striped bikini for a wedding dress. The next level is Chapel. In the chapel, Lum is presented with all sorts of wedding items to collect. Lum puts away the gun and gets ready to marry a man. However, this game is relentless and still drops limited enemies on her, anyway. Why, Jaleco, WHY?

Naturally, Lum has found her wedding items, yet still has octopi chasing her. By the way, where is her other shoe?

Apparently, the schools are on fire due to getting quaked. It must have been some earthquake; it took out four schools and a studio. Lum just happened to be there for all five. This leaves so many questions as to how and why that my brain hurts.

The design of the schools is laughable. I have had 18 years of classes. Not once in 18 years did I ever see an escalator in a school. It was junior year of college when I first saw an elevator that all students were allowed to use. My elementary school only had one floor; the school in this game has 6. Even better, someone brought trampolines in so students can just use a trampoline to go up a floor. Once Lum reaches the roof, she needs to jump into a UFO, which somehow ages her up a few years, yet keeps her inside burning schools filled with holes in the floor, trampolines, and moving platforms. Don’t try to make sense of any of it.

I better check the studio. There’s a pterodactyl flying around. It’s over by the cat.

This is the seventh paragraph of the Negatives section, and I barely touched the gameplay, outside of the sheer difficulty. Lum isn’t easy to control. Jumps are fixed; all jumps are the same height and distance, with two exceptions. One is if she grip sets of…wait, what are they? Indoor monkey bars? Coat racks? I don’t know. The other is if she jumps straight up. Anyway, that means that if Lum jumps and a pterodactyl flies in from off screen, she’s helpless to stop it. By later levels, Lum will have enemies coming in left and right, plus invincible cats (which Jaleco must love because they used them in City Connection as well) and other things dropping from above, and the ever looming fire from below. It leads to flickering because the game decided to throw too much junk at her at once. And then there are the trampolines. Lum will lose lives trying to mess around with those. Less than half the time, she’ll jump up to the intended place. Most of the time, she’ll just do a standard jump when I want her to jump up a floor. As a final insult to players, when hanging from the bars/coat racks, Lum can’t shoot. She’s a sitting duck. She’s certainly no Samus.

Yep, there’s the infamous trampoline.

More Screenshots:

There’s toddler Lum on the roof of her school waiting to catch the UFO. Makes total sense.
Those flying things look like a school of fish. Speaking of school, that’s an interesting looking classroom in the lower right corner.

Final Opinion: Watching a character grow up throughout the course of a game is a novel concept. However, Lum’s Wedding Bell is too ridiculous, too insanely difficult, and too filled with bad play control to get any enjoyment out of it. I give it a big Lum of coal.

Grade: F

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