- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami Osaka
- Platform/Release: Nintendo 64, 16 April 1998
- Genre: Adventure, Platformer
- Players: 1
- Save: Controller Pak, 16 pages
- Rarity/Cost: Common (US$3-10)
I've covered the Ganbare Goemon / Mystical Ninja franchise before, but this is the item which should be the most recognizable for everyone outside of Japan: the video game Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for Nintendo 64. As the first game in the series to be released for the console, in any region, it introduces a gameplay cocktail that was unique for its time: the expansive worlds and dungeon levels of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series with the three-dimensional gameplay of Super Mario 64. The game adds some original touches to this mix as well, such as the four playable characters, each with their own special abilities, that you get to control over the course of your adventure. You are able to switch between them at will, but there is little to no difference in how they move and fight, so most of the time your choice of character will boil down to personal taste.
|Yeah, it's a Zelda clone - but a darn good one.|
There's a fair bit of visual detail to be found here; the textures are rendered surprisingly well for the Nintendo 64, except for grass and road patterns, which look like green and yellow barf respectively. Other than that, the graphics are on the ordinary side, with a bit of slowdown on just a few areas. But even if Mystical Ninja doesn't quite impress on a technical level, there's no denying that they help to create an amazing, memorable world. The areas are clearly based on ancient Japan, but with a whimsical fantasy twist. Each of the five different castles that you explore has a creative theme to it; for example, the Gourmet Submarine Castle is set in a modern-era submarine filled with oversized Japanese foodstuffs. The music is excellent, also mixing Japanese instruments into modern beats. Music in the castle levels also gets remixed, growing in intensity as you progress further into the level. Just have your TV's mute button handy for the songs with vocals, which are painfully corny.
|You're in Mount Fuji - just roll with it.|
If, during the Spring of 1998, you managed to put aside GoldenEye 007 or 1080 Snowboarding long enough to give this a try, you probably thanked yourself for it. Those of you who ventured off the beaten path and tried this game were rewarded with a memorable trek through a whimsical, whacked-out take on ancient Japan. Although time has not been so kind to this game, new gamers should still check it out, if only for its sense of humour.
+ A fresh, funny story and setting.
+ Awesome music, even if the vocal tracks are an acquired taste.
- Lack of camera control.
- Some frame rate issues.
Control: 3 rice balls out of 5
Design: 4 rice balls out of 5
Graphics: 4 rice balls out of 5
Sound: 5 rice balls out of 5
The Call: 80% (B)