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CONSOLE: Nintendo 64 DEVELOPER: Konami PUBLISHER: Konami
RELEASE DATE (NA): April 16, 1998 GENRE: Action/Adventure
// review by SoyBomb

Robot Impact!! Go! Go! Go!

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is an extremely quirky game. To give it any justice, I have decided to prepare an equally quirky review. I asked Beverley for a letter between A-Z, and I will write the rest of this review without using that letter! Figures she gave me a vowel... So, without further ado, here's my review of Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, without using the letter "O":

Picture this: a quaint and truly charming burg in calm Japan. Suddenly, a ruckus is heard in the sky as a peach-shaped flying machine swishes ahead... and the Castle is in peril! Meanwhile, the mystical ninja dashes within the streets in that same village with his mate, the chubby Ebisumaru; they had been chased swiftly up the avenue by an angered merchant -- apparently, dancing isn't a suitable payment if they want tasty market sushi! Yet their attempted thievery is subdued by the disturbance at the castle. It's the mystical ninja's everlasting duty: serve the citizens in Japan and guard the majestic castle! They eventually determine that all this bedlam has been caused by an acting cavalcade with a severe wild streak in subjugating the land as its mighty stage. Fight, Mystical Ninja, and seek everlasting peace!

This insane tale serves as the basis in Mystical Ninja. Unusual, it is true, but such is the way with all games in that series. Primarily an adventure game, this N64 marvel shares many qualities with its Zelda brethren. Inquiry with villagers serves the main characters well, even as many citizens fail at delivering useful messages, preferring unusual prattle regarding living as a Japanese individual, dancing as a civic interest, and even the incidental bum and his financially-lethargic status. Ah, and let us recall the wacky diviner, engulfed by spellbinding pelvic-thrusting dancers as he yelps that familiar phrase when we visit: "PLASMA!!!" Makes little sense, but I live with it. The script was seemingly translated verbatim sans debate regarding actual English readers. Many gaffes are quite inane; an infrequent laugh track assists slightly in apperceiving when laughter is due. Still... try harder next time.

Visiting ill-brained characters aside, the crew must venture ahead in varied terrains and labyrinthine scenes -- even climbing Mt. Fuji -- hunting magical items and guarding the nearby villages against their effects. All these areas (and the game in its entirety) still spew Zeldaisms -- labyrinths... final battles in each... and, unusually, an extendable pipe... is THAT familiar? Each party member has a unique skill, used whenever needed. As an example, Ebisumaru can magically shrink in size and take pictures using his special camera. Yae, meanwhile, can transmute as a mermaid if deep water causes an issue; her flute-playing skills can call a winged beast as a quicker way the bunch can travel.


Indeed...

And, amidst their travels, gargantuan battle machines may interject themselves in the quest. That's when a trusty shell is handy: use it and call Impact, the giant mechanical being that resembles the main character. These battles take place in the perspective within Impact, gazing ahead as he punches with circular fists and fires bullets (actually, it's merely currency, but we didn't need that cash, did we?). These brawls may end up being the hardest experienced in the game, but they add much-needed variety. Nay, the irritating mini-games (played as a means via gaining the special aptitudes needed in survival) just aren't sufficient in that respect.

The graphics will never fully please any detail-specific player -- clipping issues and jagged edges line the scenery, made especially apparent during tight areas, and many enemies (guardians aside) are basic in appearance. It was released during the latter half within the system's life cycle but it didn't appear that way at the time. The primary characters seem well-animated, even during their signature crawl sequences (Ebisumaru, in particular, crawls using his back; that's talent right there). The music, nevertheless, deserves an award, distinguishing the game with its blended jive beats and relaxing Japanese timbres. Even with the subpar MIDI abilities, Mystical Ninja packs an aural punch. My written review can't describe the sheer amazement my ears experience every time I begin anew.

All in all, even if Mystical Ninja lacks the same allure as similar games in its genre gracing that system, there's a seemingly indescribable charm that it eminates. The silly Japanese playfulness, the simple gameplay, and musical numbers that warm the heart meld, creating a great result and a game that can be, and definitely is, universally alluring.


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