(Game Boy)

Maru's Mission (Game Boy)

Game Review

Maru's Mission Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Mission: Unbearable

Several months ago, the eShop saw the release of Avenging Spirit, a gleefully eccentric title that made us all sorry we missed it the first time around. Lightning doesn't strike twice for Jaleco with Maru's Mission, however, as this time the publisher has dusted off a forgotten title that really should have stayed that way.

The game begins with Maru and his girlfriend walking through Central Park, where they are assaulted by Muramasa and, through some of the most static animation you'll ever see outside of a child's Colorforms set, Maru's significant other is kidnapped. To get her back he'll have to conquer some of the scariest baddies ever, such as Dracula, Medusa, and the most terrifying of them all: awful controls.

The controls are, to be blunt, terrible. They're loose, they're sloppy and they often don't make any sense. For example, jumping: Maru will continue to rise in the air as long as you hold down the A button, meaning he essentially flies. He can even leave the screen. This renders every single platforming obstacle in the game moot, as the developers didn't seem to remember that their protagonist has this ability, nor is it ever explained, justified or used. Why this otherwise normal schoolboy can ascend heavenward on command is never addressed, and why the game bothers to give you lame platforming puzzles when you have the ability to quietly float over them is an even greater mystery.

Your default weapon is throwing stars, and you can fire them in four directions: you won't find much use for that, either, as most enemies can be taken out with complete safety from the front. Periodically you will be given a special weapon, but try as you might you won't be able to use it until the level-ending boss fight, where it's mandatory. This is confusing, because no matter what you press when you get the weapon, it won't work. Find the boss, though, and suddenly you can switch to the weapon after all, by pressing select. It's a confusing and pointless complication for something that should be very simple.

The search for your girlfriend will take you through six regions all over the globe, and you'd think that with only six levels they wouldn't have to repeat background elements and enemies, but you'd be wrong. Maru's Mission pretends to be a globe-trotting epic, but in reality it might as well play out in somebody's tiny back yard.

No level feels particularly different from any other, with the exception of one that makes the controls even more frustrating by giving you the ability to walk on the ceiling. Sometimes. And not other times.

Between certain levels you'll be presented with a bonus game, which sees Maru swimming in the ocean. While swimming you'll need to fend off swarms of sharks and manta rays before they kill you which, to us, sounds like a pretty liberal application of the term ‘bonus game’, particularly when any damage you sustain carries over into the next level proper.

The main issue with Maru's Mission, though, is the sheer number of glitches. We played this game from front to back in under an hour, and even in that short period of time there were more glitches on display than we could count. Enemies exploded for no reason, other enemies glitched through walls and floors, items appeared and vanished where they didn't belong, bosses spawned improperly so that there were two of them where there should only be one, inanimate objects took damage and Maru's health meter started displaying random letters instead of numbers. In short, this game is a mess.

And, yes, you read that right. You can complete all six levels in a very short period of time, but unlike other such games there's no reason to come back again. Avenging Spirit offered a similarly brief experience, but it was at least challenging, which Maru's Mission fails to be, and there were enough characters in that game to warrant several playthroughs, at least. Here, there's nothing to come back to: no harder mode, no hidden levels, no secrets to find, and precious little fun to be had.

Maru's Mission is tedious, buggy, unsatisfying and chock full of absolutely terrible spritework and animation. The music, in the interest of fairness, is decent, and the game is playable, barely.

Conclusion

Make no mistake; Maru's Mission is a bad game. Rife with glitches, boggled by its own gameplay and utterly devoid of replay value, there's almost nothing here worth genuine consideration. With a front-to-back experience that clocks in at well under an hour, it seems hollow, slight and not worth even the small amount of time you'll spend with it. We can't in good conscience recommend this one, even to die hard platforming fans.

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User Comments (47)

Stuffgamer1

#3

Stuffgamer1 said:

Wow, I ALMOST loaded up the eShop to download this yesterday...glad I waited for the review! Enjoyable read as always, Mr. Reed. :)

Whopper744

#6

Whopper744 said:

wow. Glad I didn't spend 3 bucks on that one. I usually like to have my own take at a game, but an old black and white 3 dollar downloadable game that gets 2 stars on a site I trust, just doesn't seem worth it. ...hate to start something like this, but they could have picked some many other games that are actually good for us to download.

joevox316

#7

joevox316 said:

I love how the box art has absolutely nothing to do with the game. Box art: Godzilla steals baseball cap dude's girlfriend. Game: Fancy pirate magistrate man steals star throwing ninja's girlfriend as they stroll through New York. Huh...can't decide which I like better.

MattEriks

#8

MattEriks said:

ok! why are nintendo wasting time with all these crap GameBoy games? When they could be realese the Golden GameBoy games like Wario land 1,2 and 3, Zelda oracles series, Pokemon series.

Any more titles are welcome

WolfRamHeart

#9

WolfRamHeart said:

I would have rather they released Trip World instead of this but for some reason I guess Nintendo felt that we deserved this. :D

Rawk_Hawk

#10

Rawk_Hawk said:

Hmmm...I have seen a number of bad scathing reviews and comments for this game. I think I'll check it out.

Geonjaha

#11

Geonjaha said:

As I said - it's a strange game. Its glitches are very obvious, and the jumping is just confusing. Even despite that the game is badly designed. Example: On the first level you can hit a tree stump for 300+ life. The boss has a special attack where he spins a laser around himself. You can choose to avoid it or just let it hit you (it does 10 damage - looking too easy? Yup that because it is....unless the boss duplicated {*GLITCH}).

MagicEmperor

#12

MagicEmperor said:

A 2 out of 10? Hey, that's pretty good! I'll go download it right now! Joking aside, I just wonder what compelled this game to be re-released. I can understand reintroducing an obscure game to gamers, but... shrug

Noire

#13

Noire said:

For example, jumping: Maru will continue to rise in the air as long as you hold down the A button, meaning he essentially flies. He can even leave the screen.

wat

Platforming games - now with 100% less platforming involved!

joevox316

#15

joevox316 said:

Oh. This is part of the same series as Ninja JaJaMaru-kun. Well. I want Trip World! lol If Ninja JaJaMaru-kun can come to the US for the first time on the Wii, I see no reason Trip World can't. :) Here's hoping.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#16

Philip_J_Reed said:

Seems perfect for a avgn review!

I thought the same exact thing when I played it. :) I think we need an Angry Eshop Nerd.

Mok

#18

Mok said:

Oh for Pete's sake! Stop selling these old-crappy games nobody has asked for. It only serves to drag a brilliant handheld into the mud of bad reputation. It won't just be a handheld aimed for kidz, it'll also have worthless shovelware to go along with it. Disappointing.

KoiTenchi

#19

KoiTenchi said:

I almost considered this after having so greatly enjoying the similarly obscure Avenging Spirit! I'm glad I waited for the review.

I think the main thing that turned me off was that floating ability. I was watching a video on Youtube of the gameplay and was stunned when I just saw the main character start to float.

NintyMan

#20

NintyMan said:

My goodness, this is almost funny if it wasn't real and sad as a result. The idea that you can float above and through the entire level sounds laughable and pathetic, and I can imagine the glitch fest. I always wonder what goes through these game developers' heads to make them publish a bad game that would be released for the entire world to see. As Shigeru Miyamoto would say, "A delayed game is eventually good, a bad game is bad forever."

Wario Land would've been a much better surprise for Thursday than this.

Takosuke

#21

Takosuke said:

"For example, jumping: Maru will continue to rise in the air as long as you hold down the A button, meaning he essentially flies. He can even leave the screen."

Oh god, I can't stop laughing.

Getting this.

Kid_A

#22

Kid_A said:

Oof! Those visuals almost charmed me into buying it. But this sounds...oh it sounds bad. Very bad.

BudDudSlash

#26

BudDudSlash said:

"For example, jumping: Maru will continue to rise in the air as long as you hold down the A button, meaning he essentially flies. He can even leave the screen."
I was wondering WHY that was happening when I played this.

Also, I actually don't hate this game as much as 2/10 would imply. It's a pretty terrible game, but I enjoy it warts and all for $2.99.

ogo79

#27

ogo79 said:

@Takosuke
lol with you...
"For example, jumping: Maru will continue to rise in the air as long as you hold down the A button, meaning he essentially flies. He can even leave the screen."
fantastic!
who wants a sequel?

sc100

#28

sc100 said:

Somehow, I just knew this was going to be bad. At least we got some great box art though.

grumblegrumble

#29

grumblegrumble said:

I really wanted to like this game, I still do. About the only thing I can say good about it now is at least it's interesting to look at lol ;) The walking on ceilings part freaked me out, and sometimes it's very difficult to get back off the ceiling once you're on it! I wonder why they re-released this game...?

Bass_X0

#30

Bass_X0 said:

@27: "For example, jumping: Maru will continue to rise in the air as long as you hold down the A button, meaning he essentially flies. He can even leave the screen."
I was wondering WHY that was happening when I played this.

I wondered the same when I was playing a Kirby platformer...

Shworange

#31

Shworange said:

This review made me laugh in several places! Good wordsmything! This game sounds so bad that I'm almost tempted to buy it.

Geonjaha

#32

Geonjaha said:

@31 Kirby obviously inflates - making it obvious he should be jumping as such. Kirby also doesnt go off the screen - where as in this game you actually fly out of sight before dropping back in.

WaLzgiStaff

#33

WaLzgi said:

@26: One thing you have to remember is that one reason these games are priced higher is that they have to be ESRB rated, which costs $$$$.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#35

Philip_J_Reed said:

I wondered the same when I was playing a Kirby platformer...

The thing to remember, though, is that there's a perfectly rational in-game explanation for that: Kirby is a creature who can fly. It's no more strange than a bat being able to fly, or a shark being able to swim. But a game with a schoolboy who can levitate has a little bit of explaining to do.

Also, the levels in Kirby's games are pretty obviously designed with his abilities in mind, and the number of levels that force you to progress downward or ones that line the ceiling or sky with obstacles make it impossible for you to rely on flight as an all-purpose way to avoid danger.

This game, Maru's Mission, seems to have been designed by people that didn't realize their main character had these abilities, and as such it's easy to avoid the enemies and obstacles, as I can count on one hand every one of them that wasn't rooted to the ground.

Fuzzy

#36

Fuzzy said:

Yes, after watching I YouTube video of the game, I came to the same conclusion.

Well, that's saved me enough to buy an extra coffee tomorrow morning...

Henmii

#37

Henmii said:

"where they are assaulted by Muramasa"

Aaaahh, they are assaulted by a game (Muramasa: The demon blade)!

"To get her back he'll have to conquer some of the scariest baddies ever, such as Dracula, Medusa, and the most terrifying of them all: awful controls"

Lol.

But back on topic: A shame that this game is so bad. I love platformers, but it seems I don't have to download this one!

Capt_N

#38

Capt_N said:

Wow, this game is an epileptic seizure waiting to occur. No joke! So much (game screen) flashing in that Youtube video (edit: I watched). I wouldn't wanna risk having a seizure. Wow. Not that I've ever had one before, but they can occur in ppl it's never happened (to) before. After reading this review, & seeing a video firsthand, I can safely say the game looked, & sounded somewhat interesting in the Thur. update, but from the looks of the video I watched, it looks like a great platformer I might have enjoyed, minus the idiotic level of flashing, & the obvious gameplay flukes this review mentioned.

Oh hey, I just noticed you done this review, Chicken_Brutus. Good review as always, Nintendolife staff! :) (How did you stand the screen flashing?!)

Wamtu

#39

Wamtu said:

Guys, I think Bass_X0 was joking about the Kirby thing.

As for the game...wow. Just...wow. You'd think someone would have said something or done something or...SOMETHING before they released this. They couldn't even program the jump right!

Lobster

#40

Lobster said:

Maru's Mission: the game worse than Urban Champion (the 3D Classics version, anyway).

Bass_X0

#41

Bass_X0 said:

Yeah, I was joking about that. I've actually not played this game so I don't know how the float mechanic disrupts the gameplay.

ICEknight

#42

ICEknight said:

This game was actually pretty good for its time, and it's still a fun little portable gem. Needless to say, I've never gotten any of the mentioned glitches in this article. What emulator were you using?

It has some nice tunes, decent graphics (there's some neat screen effects gong on in the very first boss battle against Eyeclop) and a bit of a challenge, even.

The only odd thing about the controls is that releasing the jump button makes your character fall immediately, just like in Tiny Toon Adventures for the Mega Drive/Genesis, but it's not something hard to get used to.

I didn't know reviews nowadays made fun of the games' actual features... He can hit a tree stump for energy? Well, Mario hits "?" blocks for coins, perhaps that makes more sense.

In any case, I see this review was more about making fun of this game than anything else (how can a game with such a terrible cover be any good, right?) so, in this case, I've found the review worse than the game, sorry...

TheDreamingHawk

#43

TheDreamingHawk said:

Anything with a box art like THAT is just embarrassing. I at least hope Jaleco's next VC release will be at least playable.

Fabian

#44

Fabian said:

Don´t know why everyone hates this, got the GameBoy cardridge and In my Opinion this Game is alot better than Trip world or kirbý Dream land 1. Played trough it several times and somehow i really liked this game. It´s a 9/10 in my opinion and i don´t think the duplication boss and the tree stump are bugs they are more like special suprises to represent the games crazyness and to the flying, you can not rise in the air as long as you press the button after 4-5 seconds you fall back on the ground

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#45

Philip_J_Reed said:

I didn't know reviews nowadays made fun of the games' actual features... He can hit a tree stump for energy? Well, Mario hits "?" blocks for coins, perhaps that makes more sense.

Hm? Where do I talk about hitting a tree stump for energy in the review, let alone make fun of it?

I've never gotten any of the mentioned glitches in this article. What emulator were you using?

Nintendo's proprietary one that comes with all 3DSVC downloads. I'm glad you didn't experience the glitches...consider yourself in the minority based on the other reviews I've read!

rickold

#47

rickold said:

I joined this message board just so I can defend this game.
The sprites look nice, the weapons are ridiculous and nonsensical but affective, and its way too easy. But its still a fun game.

Despite what the American cover art looks like, the main character is a ninja. The stages are based on Japanese mythology and our hero can jump high because he's a ninja. I don't think it's a lazy mistake. On some levels you have to avoid boss projectiles or float away from bats by jumping.

It's a fun game.
See ya never.

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