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Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (Nintendo 64) artwork

Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (Nintendo 64) review


"Fight on… Fight on… "



Fight on… Fight on…
Never giving up
Let’s start our journey as we whistle along
Going now!
Well, look at the sky peeping through the clouds
You can see just how big the sky really is
Even if the harsh winds were to take you away
Live your life the way YOU want it
That is the destiny for many
Fight on… Fight on…
There is more than one dream
If we reach for it hard enough
TAKE A CHANCE!
Fight on… Fight on…
Never giving up
Let’s start our journey as we whistle along
Going now!

Those were the lyrics to the opening theme of Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo 64. I found this gem while browsing an EB Games store, and I recollected fond memories of this game in my childhood. If anyone remembers this forgotten gaming icon, you would know that he used to be the mascot for Konami, or at least until Solid Snake stepped in. Goemon was the ninja with spiky blue hair that resembled a pineapple, and his games consisted of 2D side-scrolling platform action. However, his N64 debut was his first step into the realm of 3D, in which he portrayed a gameplay style that was similar to Super Mario 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

This is shown from the platform jumping and smacking of ninja robots with pipes. That’s correct, our ninja Goemon doesn’t use a katana, but a copper pipe that is accompanied with a chain pipe that can latch onto blocks with stars on them. In addition, the pipe doubles as a bong, which I assume the developers were using when coming up with the story. Goemon also has the ability to consume money in which he will become Super Saiyan Goemon (literally, his hair becomes gold and it looks exactly like a level 1 Super Saiyan, despite that I admit that I can distinguish a level 1 Super Saiyan from a level 2 Super Saiyan) where he’ll able to move metal boxes, and have double of the attack power.

You’ll also start out with Goemon’s pal, Ebisumaru, a pudgy blue ninja. Ebisumaru sports thread lines for eyes, a hardcore mustache, and a large nose; he almost looks like a blue Mario. He isn’t shy either, he’ll take off his clothing under circumstances, like in the beginning of the game, Goemon and Ebisumaru get kicked out of the shop because Ebisumaru was trying to get a discount by taking off his clothes; he’s butt naked and the only thing that covers his unmentionables (or unmentionaballs) is a red loincloth. You can also view him in this attire if you choose to sleep in the Bronze Room at an inn while playing as Ebisumaru. Ebisumaru defeats his foes by using a fairly large wooden hammer, or he can turn his enemies into octopus dumplings to recover his health, with his might Meat Hammer. Next, Ebisumaru can shrink in size to go through small openings or to look under girls’ dresses. In addition, he can use his wind up camera to reveal secret items and passageways, as well as making ghosts visible so that he can kill them, again.

Later in the game you’ll meet up with green-haired “she-ninja,” Yae, who is as deadly as she is beautiful. Yae is a secret-agent ninja for Japan, and uses a katana to cut her foes down to size. Or she can take her foes out from a range, while using a lock-on bazooka. Then, if you’re feeling too lazy to run from Mt. Fuji to Kyushu, you can have Yae summon a blue dragon that will take you to any town, castle, or coffee shop you’ve previously visited. For some dumb reason, none of the characters can dive into the water, but Yae can once she acquires the ability to turn into a mermaid, late in the game.

Finally, Goemon and friends discover the inanimate mechanical ninja, Sasuke, who is brought to life once they find his two missing batteries. Sasuke is a total badass with his somersault jumps and swift ninja dagger strikes, the name of these weapons escape my mind. Sasuke can freeze enemies and burning platforms by throwing “ice daggers” at them, or he could destroy crumbling walls with bombs. Lastly, if there’s a ledge or platform that seems to be out of your reach, (which is often) Sasuke can temporarily “fly” up to them in which he undergoes a phenomenon similar to a jetpack. While this feature is nice, there are many parts in the game before you get this skill, where the platforms will be just barely low enough for you to land on, and the grapple feature only works when the game wants it to.

You can switch among the four characters on the fly by pressing the bottom C-button. It is the same when changing the characters weapons, but with the right C-button. Other than that, you have your attack and jump buttons which are indifferent from other platformers, while there are some parts that require holding down on the attack button to activate like winding up Ebisumaru’s camera. Speaking of cameras, the camera isn’t on your side in this game. You can’t even control it directly, it’ll automatically rotate like 45 degrees if you stand still, which makes platform jumping difficult. One interesting factor is, the game saves your progress by using the neglected Memory Pak for the N64. Luckily, I still had mine buried in the depths of my closet; I had to get a ten-man excavation team to find the bloody accessory. If you don’t have one now, you’ll either have to find one off of ebay, or do an old-fashioned “one-sitting completion marathon.” The controls are my only gripe with the game.

Despite the inadequate controls, the rest of the game is still good, like the story. Our four heroes will join forces to save Japan from a group of weirdoes called the Peach Mountain Shoguns, who plot to turn Japan into a giant stage for them to perform on. The story makes as much sense as an Algebra class taught by steamed rice, and unfolds with your confrontations with the leaders, Spring Dancin’ and Kitty Lily. Despite the confusion, the story is humorous and there’s even canned laughter used throughout the dialogue that you must read. There are some random spoken segments too, like when you visit the fortune teller to learn what you should do next, the fortune teller will shout, “PLASMAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!”

This reminds me of the sound for the game, which is probably the best part, aside from the wacky story and characters. The sound effects are hilarious, especially Ebisumaru when he finds an important item. It sounds like this: Ya hoy-hoy what is it now? Whereas, Sasuke sounds like he’s constipated. The music is very catchy, and includes a variety of Japanese-type themes. As well as, more J-Pop themes, like the theme when you summon the giant robot, Impact, to fight other giant robots. The robot battles are like boxing matches, with the addition of Goemon’s abilities, like his chain pipe that can reel in the boss so you can beat the crap out of them. In short, the sound for the game is great.

The graphics on the other hand, are the inverse of the sound. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon boasts blocky polygons, in which some of the enemies are flying squares that chase you. The character models are decent, and you can see through their heads at random angles. However, I impressed with the facial expressions for Goemon, you can see him breathe deeply through his mouth, and he grits his teeth when attacking enemies. There are also some weird animations, like when you’re visiting the infamous Fortune Teller; he’s accompanied by male belly-dancers. You see the same belly-dancers in a hula-hoop contest on the game over screen. Despite the blocky graphics, the belly-dancers can meet your fancy, if you’re a female.

In the future, Goemon would appear in another N64 game, but he would return back to his side-scrolling roots in the game, Goemon’s Great Adventure. The game featured a day and night system, but the game would become, for lack of better term, incomprehensibly difficult, since the enemies would spaz out and kill you instantaneously at nighttime. Goemon was last seen as a playable character in the GBA launch title, Konami’s Krazy Racers, which was overshadowed by Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Since then, Konami’s pineapple-headed hero hasn’t been seen for while; hopefully, he’ll make a return in the next generation of consoles.

Rating: 7/10

Ness's avatar
Community review by Ness (July 30, 2008)

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