|System(s)||Arcade, TurboGrafx-16, Sharp X68000|
Märchen Maze (メルヘンメイズ, literally Meruhen Meizu), is a platform/shooter arcade game that was released by Namco in 1988, exclusively in Japan. It runs on that company's System 1 hardware, and was later ported to the TurboGrafx-16 and Sharp X68000 platforms; it is also loosely based upon the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's (who was better known as Lewis Carroll), Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. "Märchen" is literally the German word for "fairy tale" - and this game's "legal notice" which has previously appeared on eight other Namco game startups also misspells "sale" as "save".
The game's story begins as Alice wakes up in the middle of the night, and the mirror opposite her bed fades out; once she has spoken that Hiragana text Dare? (だれ?), it fades back in, as the Tokei Usagi (who is the game's equivalent of the White Rabbit) appears on the other side of the glass and speaks the Hiragana/Kanji text Tasukete kudasai! Watashitachi no kuni ga nani mono ka ni shin ryakusa rete shimaimashita. (たすけてください! 私たちの国がなにものかにしんりゃくされてしまいました.). She will then speak that Hiragana/Kanji text Naze watashi ga? (なぜ私が?), and he replies with that Kanji/Hiragana text Watashitachi to hanashi ga dekiru hito shika kono sekai ni hairenai nodesu. Sa hayaku! (私たちと話しができる人しかこの世界に入れないのです. さっ早くっ!) before dragging her through the mirror - and Alice must now make her way through nine different isometric worlds, blowing bubbles at enemies to knock them off the platforms and collecting various powerups along the way. The enemies, not to be outdone by a 10-year-old girl, will retaliate by shooting marbles at Alice that can temporarily stun her and cause her to fall off the edge of the platforms (unless they are avoided or jumped over); it is also worth noting that the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds of this game are palette-swaps of the second, fourth and first ones respectively, but with different enemy types and bosses to those three originals.