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Game Review

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Lee Meyer

The true karate kid

Konami's classic action title The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a welcome addition to the Wii U's slowly expanding library of Virtual Console offerings. In an era where lighthearted, fun characters have all but been forgotten in favour of grim shooters, playing as "Kid Ninja" — or Goemon, for fans of his Nintendo 64 adventures — reminds us that a little personality goes a long way in making games memorable and fun. With challenging, deceptively simple gameplay, a wacky, irreverent story and plenty of extras, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja should be an easy sell for gamers who played the game on the SNES and for younger gamers looking for a challenge.

When Kid Yin and Dr. Yang (Yin-Yang, get it?) are called upon to investigate strange happenings at the local temple, they become embroiled in an epic adventure through feudal Japan that includes a lost princess, and some ninja cats. The charming (if nonsensical) saga is told through cutscenes between stages, as well as through characters Kid Yin encounters along the way. Each stage is divided into two segments — the first part of each has Kid Yin travelling through a village, buying supplies, fighting enemies, talking to townspeople, playing minigames and more. The second part of each stage is more of a traditional platformer, with Kid Yin traversing through temples and castles and defeating an epic, over-the-top boss.

The village sequences are more challenging than first expected. Tons of enemy ninjas and monsters run through the village, each with unique patterns and attacks. While gamers may initially be frustrated with Mystical Ninja's difficulty, combat becomes rewarding as Kid Yin collects power-ups and upgrades his weapons and items. Defeated enemies may drop coins, scrolls, and silver or gold cats. Coins are essential for buying items that protect Kid Yin and make him more powerful, like sandals that speed him up, clothes that stop him from losing hit points after being hit, as well as pizza and burgers (yes, in feudal Japan) to further pad his health; these items become necessary very quickly, as Mystical Ninja does not attempt to ease the player into the action. Extra lives are hard to come by at first (and very expensive when they appear in shops), and gamers will likely see the game over screen a few times before getting the hang of things.

After a game over, the player is presented with the option of either starting at the beginning of the stage or from the last logbook entry, which is usually a shop in the middle of the stage that gives a password to start from the same place when restarting the game. This feature is largely unnecessary on the Virtual Console release thanks to save states, but hardcore retro gamers may want to try the game without "cheating." Players can also start over in the platforming sequences once a checkpoint is reached. Boss battles, meanwhile, are exciting and crazy; each requires a different strategy, which reminded us a little of boss battles from adventure games like those in The Legend of Zelda franchise, albeit simpler and more straightforward.

In addition to health buffs and extra lives, collecting cats and scrolls from enemies will upgrade weapons and grant each character special moves that can be learned in each village. There are both melee weapons and ranged weapons, with the ranged weapons draining coins with each use. One frustrating aspect is that these power-ups and upgrades reset with each new stage, making it necessary for the player to grind a bit in the beginning of every new village.

There are also a variety of minigames to play in the village, some more compelling than others. In addition to lottery-style activities and Whack-A-Mole, Kid Yin can try his hand at Gradius, another Konami classic. Gradius and Whack-A-Mole are both fun and addictive (look out for Dr. Yang popping up in Whack-A-Mole!), but some of the lottery/chance games were more of a quick diversion. Another notable feature is two-player co-op, which is very fun and hectic, especially in boss battles.

Conclusion

The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a fun, colourful, challenging adventure of a kind that the games industry just doesn't see much of any more. If you're looking for an adventure that's lighthearted but addictive, difficult but rewarding, it's hard to go wrong with this one. Experiences like this are what make the Virtual Console special, and we hope to see more classics on the Wii U in the coming months.

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User Comments (25)

Expa0

#1

Expa0 said:

I've never been able to get into this game, but the N64 title Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is great, too bad it's on the N64 though..

lbs

#2

lbs said:

Played this on Super Famicon back in the day. Was tough with all the Japanese text! Good fun tho'!

Shiryu

#4

Shiryu said:

Love this game, really wish the other 3 Super Famicom games would get a western release... one can dream!

Rezalack

#6

Rezalack said:

I'm pretty torn between this, Mega Man X and Super Castlevania 4. I've never played any of them.

Bass_X0

#7

Bass_X0 said:

@ReshiramZekrom Yeah, only clueless magazines in the early nineties called him Goeman. I really thought we were past that dumb spelling. Yin and Yang are also dumb names, but they dropped them after this game.

@Shiryu They wouldn't be translated, but they are still playable. They are mostly platformers, I remember.

SKTTR

#8

SKTTR said:

One of Konami's best. Worth it for the soundtrack alone.
The only problem is co-op with an unexperienced player. They will steal all your lives.

Shiryu

#9

Shiryu said:

@Bass_X0 Sadly you get stuck in the village bits where you must understand what the people say so you know what to do and where to go to progress. Impossible without a FAQ.

tzahn

#10

tzahn said:

@Spuratis I've only played a bit of this, but both Mega Man X and SC4 are fantastic. SC4 is basically a souped up remake of the original, so if you've played the original I'd say go with MMX. Honestly one of the best soundtracks in gaming history. Storm Eagle's stage gets me every time! Really can't go wrong with the choices though...

JustinH

#11

JustinH said:

@Spuratis All three are classics. This is my favourite, but it'd be hard to recommend it first, unless co-op is a factor. Mega Man X is probably the best of the three, but Super Castlevania IV is really close.

WaveyChristmas

#12

WaveyChristmas said:

How exciting, another Wii U VC game that was released years ago on the Wii. :p Anyways, this game would of been pretty darn awesome had it not been for the tedious overhead-ish Village stages where you have to collect money & power up your character in mindless fashion. This really knocked down the experience for me back in the day and had the exact same effect years later on the Wii's VC. The SideScroller stages and boss battles are pretty great though! I could never finish that Knight Horsemen, not sure if it's the final boss or not.

All in all, for me this was a total mixed bag of delicious and total suckage. i love/hate relationship i guess you could say.

MegaWattsAdmin

#13

MegaWatts said:

Great review, Lee! Wish they'd hurry up and stick it on the EU eShop, as well as the 64 games while they're at it!

retro_player_22

#15

retro_player_22 said:

A fun game, wish Konami makes new entry of this franchise. I miss Goemon games, the last games I play of this franchise is Goemon's Great Adventure for N64 and Konami Krazy Racers for GBA.

unrandomsam

#17

unrandomsam said:

This is certainly in my top ten favourite SNES games. (I liked Megaman X but haven't replayed it many times. Really disliked Super Castlevania IV both at the time and now (and forever) - everything good about the first / 3rd / Rondo of Blood / X68000 is lost.)
Hopefully the PAL release is the 60hz one. (I imported this on the SNES as I never expected it to be released in the end it was but loads too late) .

Tryken

#18

Tryken said:

I absolutely love this game. I took a chance on it and bought the SNES cartridge last year. I wasn't disappointed and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to play a game with some goofy, Japanese flair. Lovely time.

umegames

#20

umegames said:

Nice review. I'm currently enjoying the game alot. I wish i could do 2 player with my pro controller, but i can't figure out how to do that. non the less, great classic konami game.

Bizzyb

#21

Bizzyb said:

They need to get the N64 on VC so that we can get the awesome Legend of the Mystical Ninja N64. My goodness that was such a great game

zbailey

#24

zbailey said:

have you not noticed Nintendo rehashing the snes tiles in order of what they was on wii vc gets annoying i mean i will get it cheaper to have in on wii u with the current save but why can't they just do new stuff we all have most of the vc on wii

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