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The 1st of April always brings with it a selection of ‘hilarious’ and ‘funny’ jokes as all the major companies compete to see which April Fool’s Day stunt can drum up the most positive PR for the company. If you want to break away from the hilarity that is whatever Google have decided to do this year, then you’d be a fool to not join us in playing The Legend of the Mystical Ninja for Super Nintendo. This action platforming game offers a lot of crazy humour and fun gameplay variety that should keep you far more amused than anything else you’ll see this April!
The first western release in Konami’s long running Goemon series, this title has you taking control of the hero Goemon (known as Kid Ying in this localisation) and his wacky colleague Ebisumaru (or Dr. Yang, as he’s known here) as you adventure through a bizarre version of historical Japan.
The first game in the Goemon series – Mr. Goemon – was released into Japanese arcades in 1986, with a Famicom game being released the same year. The series starred Goemon, a character loosely based on Ishikawa Goemon, a Robin Hood-like figure from Japanese folklore. The games feature sidescrolling action stages with lots of influence from Japanese folktales, with monsters, demons and other characters of legend being prevalent throughout – but with a healthy dose of quirkiness for flavour.
In 1991, the series arrived on Super Famicom with Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyūshutsu Emaki, which would be the first title in the series to be released outside of Japan, despite multiple games previously having been released on Famicom beforehand. The game would reach America in 1992, and PAL regions in 1994, under the title of The Legend of the Mystical Ninja. The series would continue under the Mystical Ninja moniker in future releases in the west, despite being more commonly referred to as the Goemon series.
Mystical Ninja features two major gameplay styles, which alternate throughout the adventure. The first of these is used in town stages, and has elements of beat-em-up games and adventure games. You can explore the town, visit houses, buy items and discover clues as to what you should do next. Whilst exploring the town, you can freely move in and out of the depth of the screen, and you will be attacked by enemies frequently. You can get rid of them with a quick smack from your signature pipe, or by throwing coins in their direction.
Once you’ve discovered your next goal, the real meat of the gameplay comes to the forefront – the sidescrolling platformer stages. You must run, jump and fight your way through a selection of hazards and strange enemies as you navigate to the end of the stage and fight the boss.
The game also features a whole host of mini-games to discover in the town segments, including a playable level of Konami’s very own Gradius.
The Goemon series received many more games in Japan, including three additional titles for Super Famicom, as well as entries for the Nintendo 64, Game Boy, PS1, Game Boy Advance, and DS.
Of these titles, only 5 were released in the west, with 4 available in North America, and 5 available in Europe. As well as the SNES title, western gamers could enjoy the following:
- Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (N64) – A 3D adventure game with platforming elements which shares similarities with games such as Zelda.
- Goemon’s Great Adventure (N64) – This game blends 3D town segments from the first N64 title with 2.5D sidescrolling stages reminiscent of the NES game. In PAL regions it’s known as Mystical Ninja 2 starring Goemon.
- Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (Game Boy) – This release features a top down perspective, and was released in all regions for original Game Boy.
- Mystical Ninja starring Goemon (Game Boy) – This confusingly named release is a completely separate release to the previous one. Outside of Japan, it was only released in Europe as part of the Konami Game Boy Collection Volume 4 for Game Boy Colour. It is a localisation of the Japanese title Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru!
Following these releases, the Goemon series was never seen again in the west outside of cameos in games such as Konami Krazy Racers. In Japan, the series would receive multiple reboots on PS1, GBA and DS. However, there hasn’t been a new main series release since the DS game in 2005, with the series seemingly becoming just another piece of pachislot fodder for Konami.
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is available in all territories on Super Nintendo or Super Famicom, as well as having multiple ports to Nintendo’s Virtual Console service, where it is available on Wii, Wii U and New 3DS.
Mystical Ninja has also recieved a port to GBA, but this was only released in Japan, so may present some difficulties if you’re unfamiliar with the language.
As you embark on your zany adventures through feudal Japan, take some time to drop into our forums and let us know what you feel about the game. You’d be a fool not to!