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Goemon: Play With Me

Ganbare Goemon: Uchuu Kaizoku Akogingu
(PS, 1997)

Goemon's leap to the next generation of consoles was not exactly a technological evolution: he was not done going through his two-dimensional phase just yet. This game plays very much like Ganbare Goemon 3 on the Super Famicom, offering a mix of direct side-scrolling platforming and slightly 3D plane platforming à la Double Dragon, plus Impact battles as in the past. You get experience points this time around for upgrading your weapons, but that's the big difference. The soundtrack isn't anything new -- it's just remixed versions of tunes from previous games. Storywise, the game pulls a "Mega Man 8" by having a battle out in space. Then Goemon encounter an alien ship damaged from the battle and help repair it, followed by going after the other battler, Akogingu the clown. Yeah. We meet two new characters, Goroku the tough guy and Baban, an alien who inhabited the ship, neither of which are either seen or heard from again in future titles. It's alright, but nothing to write home about that hasn't already been done.

Ganbare Goemon: Kuru Nara Koi! Ayashige Ikka no Kuroi Kage
(PS, 1999)

I've always thought that PlayStation games which opt for polygonal 3D characters instead of tried-and-true high-quality sprites often look like a cat coughed up the results. Such is true for this game, too. Bottom line is that it was pretty much developed by the legally blind. The environments look absolutely bland and awful; instead of creating lovely scenery, they just added blue mist to be very lazy. It's technically a 3D platformer and plays just fine unless you have difficulty dealing with odd jumping angles, but still, you'll be too awestruck by the post-chili-cookoff-defecation-style graphics to care. The only cool thing about this game is the introduction of Impact robots for Ebisumaru, Sasuke, and Yae, but even they look downright silly. Avoid this game.

Goemon: Bouken Jidai Katsugeki
(PS2, 2000)

A step in a strange direction, this game came out at the beginning of the PlayStation 2's lifespan, and it shows. The graphics are quite basic (perhaps more suited for the Nintendo 64) and jagged, and it's for this reason that SCEA denied Konami and Working Designs, the translator, the right to release this into the American market. It's a 3D game that is a bit clunky, but with some tweaking, might become something truly mediocre. The characters are more realistically proportionate (well, at least Goemon and Yae are), and it features some apparently kick-butt anime sequences. Plus Goemon is joined by Kotora, a tiger cub that will attack when Goemon gives him the say-so. Even with its flaws, I would have bought it, but only because I like Goemon.

Ganbare Goemon: Oedo Daikaiten
(PS, 2002)

The previous original PlayStation game brought much shame upon the franchise, so the developers tried to bring it back to form with Ganbare Goemon: Oedo Daikaiten. It's definitely a pure platformer, but there's nothing that makes this stand apart from other Goemon platformers of the past, except the 3D backgrounds. It's pretty much a rehash of ideas, which is suitable considering that the main antagonist here is the King of Recycling. No kidding.

(All above screenshots provided courtesy of Kurt Kalata at Hardcore Gaming 101)

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