popeye nes box art video game
7.5 Overall Score
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 8/10
Controls: 7/10

Challenging less played classic

Licensed so often unavailable today

Game Info

Game Name:  Popeye

Developer(s):  Nintendo R & D 1

Publisher(s):  Nintendo/Parker Brothers

Platform(s):  Arcade/NES

Genre(s):  Retro/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 1982

ESRB Rating:  Not Rated

popeye arcade level 1 brutus bluto olive oyl screenshots gameplay

Brutus or Bluto…regardless he’s a bucket-head now!

Popeye’s love Olive Oyl has been taken.  Now, Popeye must rescue her from the clutches of Bluto (or Brutus) and the Sea Hag as he faces dangers that he never expected.  Popeye is strong, but even strength might not be enough to save Olive…but help from Swee’Pea, Wimpy, and his trusty spinach might be all Popeye needs to save the day!

Popeye was an arcade game released in 1982.  The game was a joint venture between Nintendo and Parker Brothers and was also part of the original NES catalogue of games.  Due to copywrite restrictions, the game is generally not available for download.

Donkey Kong and Pac-Man were god among arcades, but I also have to say that Popeye was up there.  Not only did the game look like the cartoon due to some decent graphics at the time, but the gameplay was fun and unique.  Popeye is one of those missing games that I wish the rights could be settled on.

popeye nes level 2 brutus bluto olive oyl gameplay screenshots

NES is quite faithful…but no Wimpy?!?!

Popeye was rather tough.  The first board had you catching falling hearts from Olive and avoiding Bluto who is jumping up and down between the levels.  Popeye can’t jump (he can just punch, and the only offensive attack you have other than punching is a hanging bucket that you can drop on Bluto’s head or a can of spinach which travels around the outside of the screen.  Olive’s hearts flutter down and it is sometimes frustrating to almost get a heart only to have it dip below the floor you are on…and then be faced with the Sea Hag throwing a volley of bottles.

If you pass the first board, the second board features Swee’Pea and Wimpy on a teeter-totter.  The level is a bit more claustrophobic than the first level and you often find yourself trapped by Bluto.  I also often found myself having Wimpy fling me up only to run right into Bluto.  All the while, you much catch notes from Olive Oyl.  Like all the levels in Popeye, I get really frustrated with the steps which you seem to easily get stuck on (another sign of classic games).

popeye arcade level 3 ship review screenshots gameplay

Don’t save Olive, she’s just stringing you along!

The third and final level has Popeye catching letters spelling HELP from Olive.  Popeye is relentlessly pursued by the Sea Hag’s buzzard while once again avoiding Bluto.  It is hard enough making to the ship with the difficulty of level two and the fact that arcade games of the past weren’t big on continuing…Popeye is its own challenge.

Popeye is a lot of fun.  It has all the skills and work of something like Donkey Kong, but only half of the recognition.  It could be easy to write-off Popeye since it is a licensed video game property, but I think it is one of the better “classic age” of arcade games around there that has its own unique style and feel (which translated well to the NES).  I really wish that the licensing of this game would get fixed…with all the retro gaming nostalgia now, it is time for Popeye to return!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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