You might be forgiven for dismissing this mysterious game at first glance, but give it a chance and you might find a fantastic game with amazing depth. Kid Ying and Dr. Yang are on an adventure to save Princess Yuki who has been kidnapped by counterfeiters. By traveling through different Warlock Zones in Japan, Kid Ying and Dr. Yang are faced with crazy enemies and funny bosses. On their quest, they meet strange creatures and shady enemies all over ancient Japan.
There are two viewing modes. The first mode is when you're exploring the village. You see everything from the top and one or two players can play at a time. Both players must be in the same screen, so it requires extra teamwork but double the crime-fighting! The second mode is when you are going through the final stage in one area and it scrolls from left to right. After completing each stage, you get more clues about the Princess' whereabouts.
Every time you club enemies, you can either get coins, weapon upgrades, or scrolls. Coins are used to buy food, armour, and important story items. When needed, coins can serve as ninja stars - very cool and useful! Food replenishes your health, and armour serves as defence. Weapon upgrades give the character more reach to kill enemies. For example, Kid Ying gets an awesome yo-yo and Dr. Yang gets a flute. Scrolls are used to increase your power level.
Each stage has its own feel, and you get to go to a variety of places such as a hotel to rest, the race track, the store, the lottery, the quiz show, the maze, and of course, the houses of the locals where you can learn information! You can write a "logbook entry" at the travel agency, which serves as your save. The one annoying thing about this game is the tedious manner in which you enter your journal entry. It comprises of 55 symbols that you have to manually enter when you want to continue a saved game at the start screen. Still that problem is nicely solved with the Virtual Console’s ability to pick up from where you left off!
There are a total of nine stages. At the bottom of the screen, you can see your total amount of money, and the items you have such as sandals, pizzas (for rejuvenation), armour, and other story items.
You may also encounter a mini-arcade, which allows you hours of fun. Likes most arcades, it requires money, but you get to play some great classics. You can hit moles, paint, or throw a ball into a top and get prize money. In another place, you can play hockey, Gradius, or knock the wall down. These mini-games serve as a nice diversion from the main game and will have you coming back for more.
Graphically speaking, Mystical Ninja was very colourful and inventive. From the goofy expressions on the character’s faces to sweet slumber in the hotel, it's all great fun! The ending scenes after you've beaten a boss are particularly good. It's a goofy little cartoon about Kid Ying and Dr. Yang's travels to the next world. The characters are very nicely drawn, and quite cute. The soundtrack is also excellent, distinctly Japanese and very catchy.
Although this is a simple game, it may be hard for beginners. The later stages are especially challenging, but don’t let that put you off. Each boss has unique way of attacking you and it'll have you strategizing its demise.
The Legend of Mystical Ninja is a fun SNES classic although not widely known. The music and characters are very distinct and different from other games. Back in the early 90's this was a real breath of fresh air, and amazingly it still feels the same today - there's not too many games out there like this. If you want to try something a bit different, you should give this a try.