Let's take a few minutes to celebrate the Mystical Ninja/Ganbare Goemon series by taking a look at the series' history and the games within it. This beloved but forgotten franchise gave gamers a taste of something new with its unique blend of action, platforming, comedic story, RPG elements, and Japanese folklore. In this review, we'll delve into the four installments that made their way to North America: The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES), Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (Game Boy), Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64), and Goemon's Great Adventure (N64). Join us as we look back at the whimsical charm, hilarious cultural references, and memorable gameplay that defined this iconic series.
A Brief History of the Series:
|Mr. Goemon for the arcade, released in 1986, was the first game in the series|
The Mystical Ninja/Ganbare Goemon series made its debut in the arcades and later the Famicom in Japan in 1986, becoming an instant sensation there with its distinct blend of platforming and comedic storytelling. In these early iterations, players controlled the mischievous Goemon and his companions as they embarked on a quest to save Japan from various threats. The series quickly gained popularity for its humorous atmosphere, catchy music, and unique combination of traditional Japanese aesthetics and modern influences.
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES):
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja introduced North American audiences to the wacky world of Goemon. This action-platformer combines side-scrolling levels with towns to explore, mini-games to play, and some hilarious dialogue and story events. Players assume the roles of Goemon and his loyal companion Ebisumaru as they battle enemies, collect power-ups, and attempt to rescue a kidnapped princess. The game's colorful visuals, catchy soundtrack, and cooperative gameplay provides hours of entertainment and served as an excellent introduction to the series for Western players.
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (Game Boy):
Taking the series to the handheld gaming market, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo Game Boy offers a portable version of the Goemon experience. Players guide Goemon through a series of top-down levels, battling enemies and overcoming obstacles while collecting coins and power-ups. Konami went in a very different direction with this Game Boy title, opting for an overhead Zelda-style action-RPG rather than the sidescrolling platforming gameplay of the earlier titles. Despite the limitations of the Game Boy hardware and tiny black-and-white screen, the game still manages to capture the charm and humor that define the series, making it a worthy addition to Goemon's adventures.
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64):
The series made its grand debut in 3D with Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo 64. This action-adventure game takes players on a sprawling journey through a vibrant and comical and at times absurd rendition of ancient Japan. With its open-world exploration, diverse gameplay mechanics, and quirky sense of humor, the game offers tons of charm and an immersive 3D world to explore, now with RPG elements. From the action-packed boss battles to the hilarious mini-games, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on the N64 was a great 3D adaptation of the series that managed to expand and improve upon a lot of elements from the previous games.
Goemon's Great Adventure (N64):
Goemon's Great Adventure, the sequel to Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on the Nintendo 64, continued the series' trend of quirky adventure gaming. The game makes a major departure from the first N64 Mystical Ninja game by taking the series back to its 2D side-scrolling roots. While the graphics are still made up of 3D polygons, the gameplay of the side-scrolling levels is restricted to a 2D plane - 2.5D, if you will. You and a friend can team up to join forces and traverse a variety of levels, solving puzzles, battling enemies, and collecting treasure in the game's co-operative two-player mode. Single-player is fantastic as well, offering a very similar experience to The Legend of the Mystical Ninja on the SNES. The game's tight controls, vibrant visuals, and enjoyable co-op experience made it a standout title for fans of the series and newcomers alike.