(GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Not so mystical

Shortly after the original release of the excellent Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for Nintendo 64, Konami released another game with the same title for the original Game Boy. Tragically, the N64 game has still not been released on Wii Virtual Console, but is this handheld offering a good alternative?

This instalment of the Goemon series plays a bit differently from the other games released in the west, playing more like the Japan-exclusive Famicom titles. Stages are not half town and half dungeon as in The Legend of the Mystical Ninja on Super NES, and don't feature large open fields or long 2D platforming sections like the N64 titles. Instead, each stage is made up of a large number of separate screens in a maze-like fashion, with enemies, shops and citizens to talk to strewn about; it's all viewed from above, kind of like The Legend of Zelda, but a bit more straightforward.

The problem is that you essentially just wander around the substantial levels and hope you bump into whatever it is you need to find, because you're not going to receive any help or tips to find it. Mercifully, however, there is a map you can view on the pause screen, so if you just can't find what you need you can always just look for unexplored squares. Making this even more annoying is the fact that most of the game's five levels have more than one area, such as an above ground area and an underground area in the first stage, meaning two different maps to explore.

At the start of the game, you're allowed to pick between the usual suspects, Goemon, Ebisumaru, and Sasuke, each with their own slightly different stats. Goemon is the all-rounder, while Sasuke sacrifices power for speed and Ebisumaru does the reverse. Regardless of character choice, however, you might find it tougher than normal to actually stay alive in this one, as many of the helpful tools at your disposal in other Goemon games cannot be found here.

Traditionally, in Goemon games, you have a main weapon (such as Goemon's famous pipe), as well as a near infinite supply of weapons to throw, which cost you some coins every time you use them. There's shuriken in this one, but they don't rely on your coin supply, and instead you have to actually find them separately, which is not something you should expect to happen very often. Much like in the Zelda series, at full health, swinging your main weapon will also fire off a shuriken (which is stronger than the others), but the moment you take one hit you can expect to rely on close combat very often; this is quite finicky, as you have to hit the enemies dead on for the hit to count.

Fighting enemies usually isn't even a good idea unless they're intent on blocking your path. Unlike other games in the series, enemies drop absolutely nothing here: no coins, no weapon upgrades, and no scrolls for special attack. This means it's almost always just a waste of time and health trying to kill them. Of course, there are mini-bosses and bosses that you do have to take out to advance, but all the little guys can be avoided. Amusingly enough, the bosses are usually easier than the regular enemies — most of them can be cornered and just whacked repeatedly for a quick defeat.

There are also no items to take with you in this one. The only stores in the game sell food that you will instantly eat and some shuriken, meaning that the only way to heal is by tracking down one of these shops or finding an inn, which does nothing other than heal you. As stated before, enemies don't drop coins, so you're going to have to track down the limited number of chests in each stage to get currency from those instead. Since there's a limited amount, this means that you had better use them wisely; heal too much and you'll be out of cash before you know it.

Yet another frustrating part about the game is its lack of lives. You've only got one chance — there are no checkpoints in stages, so should you die right before the end of a level, you can't just clear the final hurdle with a second life, no, you'll be sent right back to the start and have to do it all over again. Thankfully, the 3DS Virtual Console's save system eradicates this problem.

One slightly redeeming feature about the game is its music, which consists entirely of the whimsical, catchy Japanese songs the series is known for. Unfortunately the graphics don't fare quite as well, as many screens have almost identical features, making the finding of a specific location even more frustrating than it already is.


Not many people knew about this Game Boy Goemon game when it originally came out, but perhaps it's better that way. It's missing all of the addictive gameplay from other instalments and instead is nothing more than a big, frustrating set of mazes which you may grow bored of very quickly. Now, how about that other game with the same title, Konami?

From the web

Game Trailer

Subscribe to Nintendo Life on YouTube

Join Goemon and his friends Ebisumaru and Sasuke as they battle to save ancient Japan from the clutches of the evil Black Ship Gang, and res

User Comments (20)



Stuffgamer1 said:

I bought the cart used after enjoying the N64 titles some years ago...I no longer own that POS.

If you research the Goemon series in depth, you'll find that at least half of the games in the series are mediocre-to-outright-bad. While the SNES ones tend to shine, various titles on later systems were poorly conceived and received. As a result, there hasn't been a new game in the series since the sole DS title released in Japan in 2005. At least Japan has gotten more re-releases of the games we missed out on way back when...



Yasume said:

I'm glad I waited. Good review, Drake. * takes Mystical Ninja off wishlist *



Usagi-san said:

I'm actually liking this game so far. It isn't brilliant but It also isn't as bad as that horrible Planetcrashers game ~ shudders ~.
The one life thing is brutal though, I still haven't gotten past the first stage.



LadyStarstorm said:

I'd wager that a big fan of the Goemon series might get more of a "5 star" enjoyment level from this one, honestly. If you're looking for something like the N64 game you'll be disappointed, but if you're just looking for another take on the Goemon franchise it'd probably be worth your while since it's not much money. I have the cart for this and the N64 one, but I do really wish the N64 one would go on VC, if for no other reason than so people who didn't get to play it the first time around get to experience it!



GameCube said:

@Usagi-san "The one life thing is brutal though, I still haven't gotten past the first stage."

Have you tried (ab)using save states? That might alleviate that problem somewhat.



ejamer said:

Tried warning people before the review came out: sadly, this just isn't a very good game.



MeloMan said:

Mm... guess a Goemon game can be unenjoyable. Ah well, a pass for me sadly



KaiserGX said:

There have only been 4 Goemon titles in NA. I wouldn't mind downloading the one mediocre one. Especially if its $3.



TheDreamingHawk said:

It's better than the stupid japan only game they also got on the game boy. WHY ON EARTH DO YOU THROW POTATOES IN THAT GAME?



HanuKwanzMasBif said:

@Nekketsu3D Why? Are you a huge Goemon fan? I was interested until I read the review.

I read about the N64 one in a playback article of some Nintendo Power issue. It looked pretty good. Hope that becomes available on Wii/Wii U VC at some point.



Bass_X0 said:


You ever been hit by a thrown potato? Those things can hurt!



Bass_X0 said:

I do really wish the N64 one would go on VC

There is a huge problem with that. It relies on the memory card to save progress and the VC does not support memory cards. If it did come to the VC, you would have to start from the beginning every time you come to play the game. And thats no good.



Incognito_D said:

@Bass_X0 doesn't the virtual console have a built-in save state feature though? So while it still wouldn't be ideal, it would be better than nothing. Anyway, I noticed this game on sale - shame it seems to be not very good as I love me some Goemon!

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...