Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (Nintendo 64) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 14.05.2005 4

Review for Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on Nintendo 64

Mystical Ninja starring Goemon was the second Goemon branded game to make its way out of Japan, even though it was actually the fifth in the series. The game was released right back in 1998 in the west and received a mixed response from critics and gamers alike. What do we think of it you ask? Well to find that out you’ll just have to read the rest of the review…

The game is set in ancient Japan where the unlikely adventurer Goemon and his friend Ebisumaru set off a mission to save the country; save it from a group of dancing hooligans that is. Now we’re barely two sentences into the review and already we must be confusing readers that know nothing of the game, well fear not all will become clear (to an extent) in due time. Basically the storyline is thus: an evil group of all singing all dancing performers that go by the name of the Momoyama Shoguns are traversing Japan causing all sorts of trouble, namely kidnapping a whole load of children and transforming them into dancers. Then using their large peach-shaped ‘spaceship’ they have begun transfiguring historical Japanese landmarks into western ones, with the aim of turning the entire world into one massive stage where they can perform to unwilling audiences 24/7. However they did not take into account the mystical Ninja, who grows rather unhappy when his town’s castle is turned into a western copy complete with overly patriotic looking flags.

Screenshot for Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on Nintendo 64

When Goemon and his pal go to investigate they are drawn into an adventure that will take them to the far corners of Japan, from snowy mountains to sunny beaches and dense forests, it’s all here and it’s all very Japanese. Some locations are even modelled after real locations, Mt. Fuji being a prime example, of course we doubt the actual Mt. Fuji has wooden platforms around it covered with monsters that fire metal balls at passers by, but we’ve never been so we can’t rule it out ether. As mentioned you start the game with two characters in your party, Goemon and Ebisumaru; during the main game you only ever see one on the screen at a time, but you can swap characters at any given time with the press of a button. You’ll need to do this at regular intervals too, as each character has their own set of abilities and attacks for you to use. For example Goemon’s default weapons are a pipe and coin; which equate to a basic close and long range attack that are nice and easy to use. However at certain points in the game you might come across an area that needs Ebisumaru’s shrinking technique to progress further and will be required to change characters.

As you work your way through the game you gain access to two more characters, complete with their own specific abilities and weapons. They all feel different to play with and you will soon find yourself playing as one more than the others because they suit your playing style. Gameplay wise with this title you’re looking at a cross between Mario and Zelda as a basic premise at least. There is plenty of item collecting and plot furthering conversations throughout that gives the game an RPG slant, but equally there are lots of platforming sections as well. Then there are features that fit neither of the previous examples such as many of the boss battles which allow you to call upon a giant mechanical robot to fight with. These sections play like a futuristic-first-person-boxing-game on wheels and are great fun to play through again and again. There are even some sections that can almost be described as racing, just with a giant robot and lots of destruction. Also, to prevent large amounts of travelling between locations you eventually receive a magical flute which can call a massive blue dragon to collect you and take you anywhere you have already been. When you mix up all these elements and also bung in some even wackier mini-game type affairs to unlock new characters and the like; you’ve got yourself a very bizarre but instantly accessible game (for most gamers at least).

Screenshot for Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on Nintendo 64

Having said that, it is worth noting that the game features a heavy focus on comedy and does not take it self very seriously at all; as you may have picked up already. The game is distinctly Japanese in its graphical as well musical style but not just that, the script really shines through as something that has been translated from not only another language, but a completely different culture. In fact you may well find much of the script making very little sense whatsoever, or when it does make sense you will find yourself laughing at it rather than the various different jokes themselves. Of course unless you’ve come to this game expecting an epic plot and in-depth RPG system, this hardly matters. As we mentioned the game is a sort of cross between Mario and Zelda, and you hardly expect a platformer to be full of text anyway, do you? There really is only one way to play this game; with an open mind that isn’t going to take every little detail too seriously. If you can manage that, you’re looking at a very fun title indeed and one that should provide you with some favourable memories for years to come, at least that’s how we feel after all this time.

Screenshot for Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on Nintendo 64

Now we shall address the customary elements of any game; the graphics, sound and gameplay in a little more detail. Starting with the latter in that list, the gameplay borrows quite a lot from platformers such as Mario and as such also borrows a couple of their problems at the same time. Most noticeably the usual culprit of camera problems that pose a few small niggles throughout many of the platform-esque sections. On top of this there are some small issues when calculating jumps and firing long range weapons accurately. Although only small problems on there own when you add them altogether and consider they do crop up quite often it can become frustrating and brings the overall feel of the game down a notch because of it. Please bear in mind though, these are the only negative points we have made so far and although the game is far from perfect don’t be put off just yet thinking Mystical Ninja is just another poorly constructed Mario-rip off, because it is far from it!

Last but not least the graphics and sound are as we have said already very Japanese orientated, and this is far from a bad thing. Chances are if you’ve played a good few games in your time, especially from Nintendo and other Japanese based companies then the graphics won’t look out of place too much, but the inclusion of realistic looking Japanese locations might be a new experience. When you start off playing, the very first room you are in is a very typical Eastern house with sliding doors and all the rest of it; at least it makes a nice change from the metropolitan locations in GTA and co. Equally the music featured throughout will undoubtedly sound a little odd at first. Especially seeing as the introduction movie to the game is actually a sort of music video, with Japanese singing and English subtitles. Regardless it proves to be one of the catchiest theme tunes for a game ever made, although possibly not to everyone’s taste. In closing what we have here is a very Japanese game in two ways, one that it features many typical Japanese features what with the locations, music and such but also in another way. The game is crazy, its funny, its involving, it isn’t westernised in the slightest, if nothing else it deserves to be played on that basis alone, honestly you’ll never be able to look at a Ninja the same way again.

Screenshot for Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

An excellent title that certainly won’t appeal to everyone but those that it does appeal to will instantly fall in love with its charm without a doubt, worth looking into.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (5 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


If it does get a VC release maybe you should re review the game Lee.

Our member of the week

The game was by no means the 5th in the series, but rather the 5th in the re-numbered sub-series started on Super Famicom. Actually, you can't really put any number on it. If anything it's the 7th, considering the Famicom got two mainline episodes prior to the SNES. However One episode was released in the arcades originally, then 4 games on Famicom (2 mainline episodes, then two RPG spin-offs), then 5 on Super Famicom (4 mainline episodes and 1 puzzle game spin-off), and then the playstation got at least one episode before this one arrived on N64, and the game boy got numerous episodes as well. Want to count the pachinko and slot games released in Japan which were Goemon themed as well XD. This series is far too twisted to try and number the episodes Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

In terms of the Western releases, this was only the third game to get brought over, right?

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) --> Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64) --> Mystical Ninja 2 Starring Goemon (N64)

I remember being in Currys as a child and seeing the quirky intro to TLotMN (SNES) and instantly wanting to buy it! I was so disappointed that the Ganbare Goemon 2, 3 and the fourth SNES game never came over Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
Our member of the week

Actually since this here is the review for the first N64 game, this would be the second.

It goes like this :

1. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES, 1994 in Europe)
2. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64, 1997)
3. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (Game Boy, 1997, no relationship to the N64 episode, it's a completely different game)
4. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon 2 (N64, 1999)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (Game Boy Color, 2000, part of the Konami GB Collection Vol.3, a colored remake of the first Game Boy Goemon game, Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru ! and despite the western name, it's still a completely different game from the other two by the same name)

Hope this makes things more clear Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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