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The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) artwork

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) review

"While Goemon himself is rather recognisable, it’s pretty hard to actually pin down where you’ve seen him before. Since I’m a Brit, the only Goemon games that I can actually play are this one and its sequel on the N64, due to the fact that they were the only ones translated into the English. Which is a damn shame, considering how enjoyable this title is, but thanks to the wonder of emulation, I managed to enjoy what it had to offer. "

While Goemon himself is rather recognisable, it’s pretty hard to actually pin down where you’ve seen him before. Since I’m a Brit, the only Goemon games that I can actually play are this one and its sequel on the N64, due to the fact that they were the only ones translated into the English. Which is a damn shame, considering how enjoyable this title is, but thanks to the wonder of emulation, I managed to enjoy what it had to offer.

Under the moniker of Legend of the Mystical Ninja, this Goemon adventure crams in a diverse mix of different game genres. It takes the action and style of the Zelda: The Adventure of Link on the NES and dilutes it with its own distinct humour and personality. What remains is an impressive fusion between an action RPG and a platform game, with influences from a side-scrolling beat-em up. It’s an excellent cocktail which goes down well, massaging your throat delicately like a Cosmopolitan, not burning it like a Bloody Mary.

Goemon (who is shamelessly renamed to Kid Ying) sets out from his hometown on a mission to sort out a ghost woman, who is giving the local residents a hard time. Armed with his trusty…HASH PIPE, he and his elderly comrade, Dr. Yang, set out to give this rather rude hag the Victorian treatment, reinforcing the fact that women should be seen and not heard. While doing so, the duo is wrapped up in a scheme to rescue a kidnapped princess from an island ruled by cats. Again!? Bah, women cause trouble everywhere they go! *

With a template of any respectable 2-D beat ‘em up, you can venture through various different areas heckling the rather aggressive locals with your "re-creational tool." All of the areas you visit have an unlimited stream of unfriendly characters that take immense pleasure in making your job unnecessarily difficult. Thankfully, all of these cretins can be banished in one stroke with your weapon. Additionally, you can collect cash from their withered corpses and after your eighth consecutive kill you will be able to upgrade your recreational tool with an even longer one or with an incredibly enjoyable and destructive yo-yo! However, as fun as this is, getting hit once by an enemy will reduce your weapon down to its original form. This is almost as fun as getting a wet fish smashed across your cheek while the person holding the fish decides to tap dance in glee after slapping you right in the chops, but not quite as enjoyable.

Fallen enemies drop cash, which can be gathered and used to either purchase various items to aid you in your quest or as long range weapons. Enemies regenerate in levels and constantly attack you, gathering a large amount of cash is never too hard, although it can be slightly repetitive. Villages always contain general stores that allow you to purchase upgrades such as new armour, new weapons and extra lives with your hard won cash. However, money can be used for bonus tasks such as playing an assortment of mini-games (including a chance to play the classic NES shooter, Gradius!) You can recharge your stamina at the spa or hotel with your money (and get miraculously fleeced by the “deluxe suite” scam.) If you’re being accompanied with a friend, your
collected cash goes into one shared pot where each player can take as much as he wants to treat himself to a new item or recharge his stamina.

After doing your deeds in the villages, you’ll be transformed into a more platform-based environment, where a strange dog-like witch thing will appear from nowhere and warn you of trouble ahead. Then with no explanation (unless you’re knowledgeable of the Goemon series then you’ll know EXACTLY what’s happening!) it’ll vanish into thin air and throw you into a new area of the game. These platform areas follow the same rules as earlier levels except that enemies will become less of a hassle due to their inability to run around the screen in the previous levels.

Battling a boss with Goemon is a rather complicated task, mainly due to the fact that you get no enhancement at all while fighting these gargantuan monsters. If you’ve not been clever enough to buy some additional long range weapons at the store before entering the boss’s domain, then you’re in for a rather bumpy ride. Boss fights usually rely on impeccable timing and lots of good luck, due to the fact that you really have to get within spitting distance of the boss to hit him. This often leads to a pattern of attacking and then running like hell to avoid any contact or sees you hiding in a corner and rapidly throwing cash at the boss like he’s an stripper that's been short-changed* Unfortunately, the latter is usually the safer method which makes fighting a boss an expensive process.

Legend of the Mystical Ninja’s fusion of numerous genres is commendable and is, on the whole, something that is enjoyable, well-layered and humorous. While the game is littered with numerous flaws, mainly around gathering cash, it’s well balanced out by these above traits and its tongue in cheek approach to Japanese culture and b-movies. It’s an interesting creation that is rich in original platforming, which was something that was already beginning to be constantly littered with mediocrity, even in 1991!

*Forgive my misogyny. I have a lot of hate against the world.


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Community review by goldenvortex (January 12, 2007)

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