(Nintendo 64)

Goemon's Great Adventure (Nintendo 64)

Game Review

Goemon's Great Adventure Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Andrew Donaldson

A spectacular sidescrolling sequel

When it comes to underrepresented genres on the Nintendo 64, the humble 2D platformer is perhaps the most neglected of all. Despite forming a cornerstone of the 16-bit generation, the genre suffered a spectacular loss of popularity as the N64, Sega Saturn and PlayStation ushered in an exciting new revolution in the form of 3D gaming.

It was all the more surprising then, when Konami announced that the follow-up to its Zelda-reminiscent adventure Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon would take the series back to its side-scrolling roots.

Goemon's Great Adventure sees the player travelling all over Japan through a total of five different worlds in order to defeat Dochuki, the demonic ruler of the Underworld. Summoned by the villainous Bismaru using the “ultra, gorgeous, electro ghost return machine” stolen from Wiseman, Dochuki seeks to take over the world with his army of monsters straight out of Japanese folklore (anyone who’s played Okami will surely recognise a few). Playing once again as either Goemon, Ebisumaru, Yae or Sasuke, it is up to the player to thwart Bismaru and Dochuki, retrieve Wiseman’s invention and return peace to the land.

You can play the game using either the D-pad or the analogue stick, and although one might think that the former would be the more natural option, using the latter doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all. This possibly has something to do with the fairly distinctive 2.5D graphical style, which at times can actually make this feel like a 3D adventure instead of a 2D sidescroller. Platforms jump out of the screen at different angles, while detailed levels rotate in three dimensions and frequently branch off on separate paths into the foreground and background. Most stages feature alternative routes and exits as well as often striking background scenery. The bold and colourful graphics are actually rather reminiscent of another underappreciated title, Namco’s Klonoa. Rather than playing like a traditional “jump-on-heads” 2D platformer, however, Great Adventure can be more accurately described as an action/platformer, drawing inspiration from earlier games in the series such as the Super Nintendo’s Legend of the Mystical Ninja and even classic Castlevania games.

On the whole, this controls similarly to the previous outing, only on a 2D plane. Projectile attacks are now far more useful here, whereas before the extra dimension made aiming fiddly and not worth the effort. It’s a good thing, too, because in terms of difficulty, this is a much harder game than the first – a stroll in the park it certainly ain't! Falling platforms, bottomless pits, relentless enemies and other hazards all stand between our heroes and the end of each level. Armour, rice balls and other power-ups, which were rendered largely unnecessary by the previous title’s ease, are now far more important for success.

Character-specific abilities return along with a radically overhauled weapon-upgrade system. This time, you start off with your weapon in its most feeble state; grabbing a Silver Fortune Doll will upgrade it by one level, and finding another will increase the weapon to level three – its most powerful form. For example, Goemon will start with a basic wooden pipe, which can be upgraded to a bigger, stronger metal pipe, and then finally a whopping great golden pipe that easily annihilates all enemies with minimum effort. Smashing robots to smithereens and watching them fly apart with a satisfying loud crash never gets old. Taking a hit will drop the weapon back down to its prior state, so watch out.

For the most part, the game is hard but fair – die and it’s your own lack of skill to blame, nothing else. Occasionally though, enemies will fly in at high speed from off-screen with absolutely no warning and providing zero chance to react, which quickly becomes very frustrating. Most players can expect to become swiftly acquainted with the Game Over screen – which would feel a lot more upsetting if it didn’t happen to be one of the weirdest and most hilarious of all time, depicting a bodybuilding devil in short trunks, flexing along to incredibly bizarre music.

On that note, the soundtrack is as fantastic as ever and certainly manages to live up to the impressive precedent set by its predecessor. Similar in style to that of the first game, combining modern sounds with traditional Japanese instruments, the music and sound effects fit each individual location perfectly and set the atmosphere appropriately – whether in a lush forest, a busy town, a seaside cliff, or a fortress in the sky.

As well as catchy tunes, it just wouldn’t be a Goemon game without the trademark crazy humour, and fortunately Goemon's Great Adventure doesn’t buck the trend. Among numerous other examples, Ebisumaru can’t hide his excitement at the prospect of using Wiseman’s resurrection machine to finally meet his hero James Dean, while one of the game’s earlier side-missions sees Goemon and company trying to track down a DJ’s missing records and audio equipment – apparently everyday items in 16th century Japan!

The giant robot battles, another memorable staple of the first game, also return and are more frequent and challenging than before. As well as being able to once again take command of Impact, players can now switch mid-battle to another giant mecha – also one of Wiseman’s creations, this time a female robot, imaginatively titled “Miss Impact”. Switching back and forth between Impact and his female counterpart is vital to avoid the enemy robots’ most powerful blows. Helpfully, you can now view attack commands upon pausing the game mid-battle rather than dealing with their exclusive relegation to the instruction manual. On a more sour note, however, the memorable Impact theme song, as well as the equally quirky and catchy opening number, “Smile Again,” are inexplicably missing from the North American and European releases of the game – a baffling and ultimately disappointing decision, since their earlier equivalents only served to add to the wackiness and charm so prevalent in the original.

Furthermore, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that Goemon's Great Adventure isn’t quite as epic in scope as its predecessor. The sense of heading out into a sprawling, wide world for a grand adventure, a staple of the previous game, is now somewhat lacking. It’s an unfortunate yet unsurprising casualty of the switch to 2D, and can be attributed in part to the transfer from an open world scenario to individual stages connected only by a map screen.

One area where this does hold an advantage over the original, however, is in the impressive amount of objectives still to be met even after completion of the main adventure. There’s a whole secret world waiting to be discovered while multiple level exits yield hidden Entry Passes, each of which can be collected to unlock special rewards.

Adding another healthy dose of replay value to the title is the welcome inclusion of a multiplayer co-op mode. Reportedly, a two-player mode was originally planned for the first Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, but this was removed relatively late into the game’s development. Thankfully Konami saw fit to keep it in this time, and it's both entertaining in terms of gameplay and good for a laugh. It’s always fun to share the adventure with a friend, even if there are slight niggles. As is to be expected, characters are limited on how far apart from one another they can move, which feels slightly restrictive. The game is also made slightly easier by the fact that Goemon and company can now re-spawn on the spot rather than having to return to the previous checkpoint upon dying, as long as player two doesn’t happen to die at the same time. In addition, due to the side-scrolling nature of the game, the player farthest to the right will almost always encounter enemies and power-ups first, while the player following behind will do just that – follow. Minor criticisms aside, however, it’s nice to play with a friend and take the levels on cooperatively.

Conclusion

While there’s arguably a slight spark of magic missing in comparison with its simply enchanting predecessor Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, this is still undoubtedly a great game in its own right. Providing a brilliantly entertaining combination of colourful visuals, great level design, crazy characters, fast-paced platforming action, a wonderfully upbeat and diverse soundtrack and the added bonus of a co-op mode, Goemon's Great Adventure is essential for anyone searching for a more traditional platforming experience on their N64 – just don’t expect an easy ride!

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User Comments (41)

LordJumpMad

#2

LordJumpMad said:

Wait.....
I don't remeber this game being a side Scroller?

wasn't it in 3D, with alittle RPG in it.

Link79

#5

Link79 said:

I loved the first one on N64 but the sequel kinda pissed me off.
It was way too frustrating and I just couldn't get into it. I beat the first few levels then just got annoyed with it and gave up. If by some miracle it ever came to VC I might give it another go but I'd have to be really determined to finish it this time.

CanisWolfred

#6

CanisWolfred said:

I really want to check this game out. NVM, it's the predecessor that I want to try, not this one.

Zach

#7

Zach said:

I actually like this one more than its predecessor, but without the ease of continuing mid-stage in co-op mode and the fun of playing with a friend, that may not have been so. Both were great games. I also missed the songs and laugh track from the original. Great review, Andrew!

SKTTR

#9

SKTTR said:

If they ever bring this to VC I hope they put in the missing songs and cutscenes from the Japanese release.

Markystal

#10

Markystal said:

The first game owns me. The coop for this game is so good that I honesty have never played a game that has surpassed it. I can remember all the fun times I had with this game. I probably would still be playing it had my n64 controllers not lost functionality. Though this game didn't receive as much love from other people, it has a very close place in my heart. It is behind Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 for the best game i have ever played. The levels were fun, the Japanese culture references were great, the different characters were a blast. The game play was so much fun me and my best friend lasted our entire n64 gaming sessions playing this game exclusively until we moved. I love this game and would probably suffer heart attacks worse than e3 2010 if this game was brought to the US virtual Console. Me and my friend kept track of how many times we beat it. The last time was # 1003, I hope to increase that number some day...

Markystal

#11

Markystal said:

Forgot review was great by the way, though I'm biased and would hve rated it higher. Oh and the part about the "GAME OVER" screen is no joke. I died on purpose when I was a kid just to see that sometimes(Kind of creepy now that I think about it.).

MeloMan

#12

MeloMan said:

I know it won't happen but this is one of the many games I had hoped Konami (why do you hate us so?) would bring over to VC. I loved both the original and this one for each of their merits and was my actually first foray into Goemon's world (I went back later to play Legend of the Mystical Ninja later). One word: PLAAAAAASMAAAAA!!!! :D

Also, let's see... what was the music from I think, Toad pass, frog pass, something, lol. I just remember it was catchy... and one of the castle musics was crazy sweet. I have no idea why they stopped this series, I rather enjoyed it.

And it all started w/ MNSG when I wondered into a Blockbuster looking for a good N64 game to rent... ah memories...

y2josh

#13

y2josh said:

I regret not playing this one in the N64 days, I loved the first one. I'm going to have to get a functioning N64 controller :|

GamerZack87

#14

GamerZack87 said:

I loved this game back in the day! Both it and its predecessor forced me to download Legend from the Wii Shop Channel...which left me somewhat disappointed. Still, let's hope that both the N64 games in the series make it to the Wii VC!

PURAZUMAAAAAAAA!!!! :D

That_Guy_from_Faxana

#16

That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

10 / 10. This is one of my favourite games ever. Way better than the SNES games, the levels, enemies, soundefects, music... it´s ace! Superb 2 player mode too.

MasterGraveheart

#17

MasterGraveheart said:

Awesome. I wish I could have gotten the chance to play this one. I could always go for more Yae in my life. <3

Fuzzy

#18

Fuzzy said:

I enjoyed playing this a lot when we could rent it back in the day. Don't think I ever got to finish it. Hopefully they release this on vc one day.

Stuffgamer1

#19

Stuffgamer1 said:

@MeloMan: Having read up a good bit on the series, it is my understanding that a lot of the games in it (particularly post-SNES) just weren't very good. Of course, the vast majority of them weren't released in the Western world to begin with, presumably because the ones we DID get didn't sell well enough.

I'm in the group that prefers this game to the previous N64 outing, and indeed to all other Goemon games released in America. It's a great game in more than title alone, and I really wish more people had a chance to play it. I played through it again earlier this year, and it still holds up quite well, IMO.

AcidFox

#20

AcidFox said:

I've always loved this game, and just recently started playing it again with a friend. It could get incredibly frustrating due to the extensive amount of cheap instant deaths, but it was always fun enough to make you want to play more, and it was indeed sad to find out that they had removed the amazing intro and Impact's song...
BTW, the game had a 3 and even 4 player mode, but you had to get all 44 passes first. It was worth the trouble, but things could get pretty hectic with 4 players running and jumping around.

XCWarrior

#21

XCWarrior said:

I remember when my buddy brought this game over. At first I thought it was stupid... then I couldn't put it down until completion. A must have N64 game, deserves a VC rerelease. Great game.

XCWarrior

#22

XCWarrior said:

I retract my last statement, goes to show you need to read the article. I thought we were talking the other N64 game - the 3D one. That game was awesome. I played the SNES version on VC and was not a big fan.

SolarJetman

#24

SolarJetman said:

@DAaaMan64: Dude's baked man,

Aaaaanyway, this game was great. Awesome visuals, good controls, nicely focused on the action, but it was hard. Me and my bro could only make it to the third level, but then I remember being chased by something on fire, and I think it was harder because there were two of us. Perhaps it would have been easier in 1-player mode?

The SNES Legend of the Mystical Ninja is still my fave though, And what about the first N64 game? I thought it was excellent, and one of the best such games on the system, after Mario 64, the Zeldas, Jet Force Gemini, the Banjo-Kazooies and Body Harvest.

GEOFF

#25

GEOFF said:

I haven't played this one but the first N64 game is a game where the 3D graphics wowed people so much that they couldn't spot a crap game when they played it.Some people compared it to Mario64 these are the same people who compare goats to trees.
On the SNES Goemon 1 is good, Goemon 2 is excellent, Goemon 3 is crap and I haven't played 4(3 put me off).

JimLad

#26

JimLad said:

Wow, never realised this was a 2 player, might have to give it another look.
I wish they would make another 3D Goemon game like Mystical Ninja.
I've tried other games in the series, but could never really get into them like I did with MNSG. That game was masterful.

JimLad

#27

JimLad said:

@GEOFF I think it's safe to say Mystical Ninja's graphics aren't impressing people anymore, yet most still hold it in high regard because it's gameplay was and is fun.

DjinnFighter

#28

DjinnFighter said:

Best platformer ever, I continue to play it eleven years later. In fact, I consider GGA as my third best game of all time after Ocarina of Time and SSBB. I love the Goemon games, they were my favorite games when I was younger. I played too much The Legend of the Mystical Ninja and Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. They were awesome, but I consider Goemon's Great Adventure to be the pinnacle of the series.

I even import the DS game. Good game, but it's far behind the three Goemon games I mentionned.

Incognito_D

#29

Incognito_D said:

@AcidFox yeah there is a 3 and 4 player mode, but like you say it has to be unlocked and requires a cheat code of sorts to activate it. Seeing as it's kind of a secret bonus mode I didn't mention it in the review, but oh well the cat's out of the bag now!

@MeloMan my personal favourite tracks in the game are Ryugu Castle and Mokeke Forest - truly epic!

KeeperBvK

#30

KeeperBvK said:

"It was all the more surprising then, when Konami announced that the follow-up to its Zelda-reminiscent adventure Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon would take the series back to its side-scrolling roots."

Take it back to its roots? Prior to the N64 Goemon was always a mix between Zelda and platformers, so it's no return, but rather a shift of focus.

Link79

#31

Link79 said:

I liked the first N64 game better simply because it reminded me of Zelda. I read about it in a Nintendo magazine.
The graphics never really wowed me but I needed a game to play that would hold me out until a few months later when Ocarina of time came out. It's still one of my favorite N64 games. Goemon's great adventure felt like a step backward to me.

Pokeman

#32

Pokeman said:

Man, I'll totally love this game! But I wonder if it would be on the Wiishop soon. That would be wicked.

Vinsanity

#34

Vinsanity said:

This game is amazing. Konami should get off their butts and make a contemporary XBLA/PSN HD remake of THIS, epic, title. It had four player co-op YEARS before LittleBigPlanet and New Super Mario (although you have to 100% complete the game, as it's a hidden bonus mode*. And 100 percenting this game is brutal).

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8KwVKl6z8I

Seriously Nintendolife, look it up. This game is technically 4 players, not 2. It's just that, unfortunately, very few people will ever see the four player mode. By the time my sister and I unlocked it, we were basically done with the game. Konami was bananas for not including it from the beginning.

Zach

#35

Zach said:

@Vinsanity We're aware, but as it's a secret bonus it's not in the technical specs. See Incodnito D (aka Andrew Donaldson)'s comment above.

Rarewarefan7495

#37

Rarewarefan7495 said:

It's as good as the SNES games and is a solid game. Collecting things does give you an incentive to replay it over and over again. But the reason why I like this game is the level design. There's a lot to explore and you need to do this to beat the game. The 2 player coop is awesome as well although I would have liked an option for 3 or 4 players.

Kosmo

#38

Kosmo said:

When I picked up this game as a kid it was just a very good platformer that played in co-op, but now that I'm playing it again, the wacky Japanese humor makes it even better! For all those who are fond of Cho Aniki and other Japanese "bizarre" things, this game is truly a jewel. And for all the others, it's a great platformer with one of the weirdest and most enjoyable Game Over screens EVER!
Shame I never was able to beat it, but I'm certainly working on it. (and that demon is sure showing off his muscles to me... shivers)

Eddsnake

#39

Eddsnake said:

I loved the SNES original and quite enjoyed the first N64 game, I don't think I ever realised that they released this game in Europe until I saw a Pal copy of it on EBay the other day, can't believe I missed it back in 1999! Hope it comes to the VC one day.

JoShCoNker

#41

JoShCoNker said:

This is the kind of games that you MUST play with a friend and a couple of beers to make the game even more funier than it is, As a N64 Collector (that's how my wife call me) I really suggest this game for everyone who wants :
1. Challenge
2. Co-op Game from start to finish
3. A huge selection of levels
4. Lots of frustration against a hard burro game
5. A very good sense of humor
Watch the profanity please — TBD

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