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CONSOLE: Game Boy DEVELOPER: Konami PUBLISHER: Konami
RELEASE DATE (NA): April 1998 GENRE: Action
// review by Jeff

No human can press the 'A' button THAT fast.

Goemon's just damn cool. He's got that spiky hair deal that I so adore (and also copy in real life to an extent...except that my hair is not blue). He's had that crazy pipe that he uses for beating enemies -- and nobody beats with a pipe better than Goemon. Hmmm, that sounded gross. And he's got killer buddies: Ebisumaru, the plump food-lovin' and hammer-swingin' riffraff; Yae, the ninja with the female fury; and Sasuke, the robot with a heart of gold and some other computer chips. And the Goemon games have generally been filled with insane Japanese humour and wackiness that sets this series apart from the rest.

So what the hell is wrong with this game?! This is a rather dull entry into the series, and certainly of a much lower quality than other games of the series. The basic plot behind this game is that Yae has been kidnapped by the Black Ship Gang, and now it's up to the other three members of Team Goemon to save her. Yep. Oh yeah, and the Black Ship Gang is also well-known for attacking people all over Japan and stealing money and goods 'n all that. So I suppose they must be stopped for that also. ...but seriously, get Yae back.

The game plays out pretty much like Legend of Zelda, except most of the game is much easier. You get to choose a character to play as for each "chapter" of the game. They all act pretty much the same way during action sequences, so you really have no need to be picky (and for Chapters 2 & 3, you are even more limited, as you are unable to choose the character you had used in a previous chapter). Anyway, when you have full health, you can naturally shoot shurikens out of your weapon, but when you get hurt, you must fight at close range! You can also collect larger shurikens (which, for smart players, are best kept saved for boss fights). However, with the exception of bosses, you're better off just avoiding the enemies and moving along your way. You can also jump, which occasionally serves you well. So far, this game sounds pretty average in terms of gameplay. And that's what it is: average. In fact, the main source of gameplay is rather bland in its own right. Screen after screen of an area without much change. In fact, the programmers often used the same room layout for several room of an area -- so you may think you're going around in circles, but you're really not! GRRRRAH! But then comes on one of the most mindless additions: certain mini-games that are i) necessary towards completion of the game, and b) inconceivably difficult. In particular is the mini-game at the end of the first chapter, in which you must race the boss to a finish line. Doesn't sound so difficult, does it? However, in order to keep up a viable speed, you must press the 'A' button repeatedly. I will say it here and now: no human can press the 'A' button quickly and frequently enough to win. And even if you do manage to press the button sufficiently, you'll be too tired to continue. You'll have to freakin' lay down. I mean, seriously, if I get tired after thirty seconds of gameplay, there's something wrong...with the GAME! (Or the gamer if they are over 250 pounds.) So just this aspect alone makes this game one that is extremely unpleasant at times.

The script is pretty lackluster. There's no humour at all -- Ebisumaru should be trying to steal rice snacks from a legitimate salesman and then he should be chased through the tenements of Oedo Town! The "cutscenes" are pretty straightforward. "What do we do now?" "We have to go here next." "OK, let's go!" The townsfolk aren't all that exciting either, offering such philosophical gems as this:

How insightful.

If you actually LOOK at the game, you'll notice that the graphics are actually rather bland. Not much is very detailed, and most of the non-playable characters in the game look pretty much the same. And the backgrounds...well...meh. You control a puny little character during your travels, and they use these same puny character models in cutscenes! Yawn! And if you actually LISTEN to the game... well, you really can't say too much. The music will get very annoying and repetitive, and sound effects are minimally placed. I am not impressed. Nor will you be if you play this game!

So I conclude, if it hasn't already become apparent, that this game is not for Goemon fans. Casual gamers might find the action scenes of some minor interest, but even they will get extremely annoyed by the mini-games (that racing one, in particular, although it's nice to get out of the way early). I am not necessarily implying that this game has absolutely no merit whatsoever, but gamers should be aware that there are much better Game Boy games of the same genre (and the same series as well). However, Konami should be ashamed that they included this game in the series; clearly, much better results could have been achieved.


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