Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon Review (Game Boy)

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MYSTICAL NINJA starring GOEMON was originally released in 1998 for the Game Boy. Mystical Ninja is an action adventure game that follows Goemon, Ebisumaru, and Sasuke as they fight against a band of pirates known as The Black Ship Gang. This mysterious band of pirates travels between towns to steal and terrorize the people of ancient Japan. Their leader, the Skull Baron, has also kidnapped Yae, whom normally fights alongside the trio of ninjas. After learning of Yae’s fate, Goemon and friends set out to rescue her and defeat The Black Ship Gang.

There are five levels to play through in this game with three characters being playable: Goemon, Ebisumaru, and Sasuke. In the first three levels, you will be forced to choose a ninja that you haven’t played with yet, but can choose freely in the latter part of the game. Each level features an overhead view that is somewhat similar to early The Legend of Zelda games. Unlike Zelda, Mystical Ninja isn’t one big overworld; instead its levels are isolated experiences. Regardless, the game functions much the same. You travel around the map by moving one screen at a time, attacking enemies, finding treasure, and occasionally speaking with NPCs.

Moving is done with the D-Pad, but is somewhat slow. Your character also moves in only one direction at a time, this makes dodging projectiles a tad tricky. With a bit of practice, and an aggressive attack, this can easily be overcome.

Each character is equipped with a melee weapon that can also shoot shurikens when you’re at full health. Each character has different stats, but the changes aren’t too drastic. Goemon is an average character with a normal ranged attack and jumping ability. Ebisumaru can throw stars further than any character, but jumps poorly; Sasuke being the exact opposite of Ebisumaru. Each character can also collect shurikens that can be thrown at any time, but this attack is limited. Attacking is done by pressing B with jumping being mapped to A.

Mystical Ninja might sound like a great game, but it falls short of being a quality experience. Walking around and beating up enemies is fun, but it gets old fast, especially because each level feels pretty much identical. You walk around the map, go to another floor, find a particular item, fight the boss and play some absurd mini-game. It honestly feels like you’re playing a remixed version of the previous level, and it doesn’t help that the majority of the game looks the same as well.

There are two types of enemies, ranged attackers and normal enemies. One attacks by shooting projectiles at you, and the other tries to walk into you. Konami makes it seem like there are more enemies by throwing a different sprite at you, but essentially they are identical. Fighting bosses is a little more involved, mainly because their movements are less predictable.

Speaking of bosses, a good number of them challenge you to a ridiculous Track and Field inspired mini-game. These see you pressing the A buttons as fast as you can, but it’s nearly impossible to win. If you lose, it’s Game Over for you. Luckily, Nintendo 3DS owners can activate rapid fire by holding R and A at the same time, so the Virtual Console version is a little easier to beat. Konami probably added this feature to make the game more appealing.

While 3DS users can take advantage of the Restore Point feature, Game Boy players will have to use the password system. You only have one life throughout the game, so the password system is a must. You will probably only use them to continue after losing on the boss mini-games, but the ranged attackers can be pretty tricky to avoid. You can find shops and Inns to recover your energy by spending some of those coins you find. Plus, there are Crystals of Life to find which increase your health gauge. All of these features combined help lessen the pain and make the game playable.

Mystical Ninja is a fine looking Game Boy title. There is some nice detail in the characters and enemies, but the levels themselves could have used a little more creativity. Much like the gameplay design for each level, their appearance is also repetitive. Though, the game still looks good, so this is just a minor complaint. Mystical Ninja also has some great sounding tracks, and combined with the decent artistic approach, there are some redeeming qualities.

2/5 D-Pads: Overall, Mystical Ninja has some good moments, but is mostly a mixed experience. While the gameplay is not awful, it is highly repetitive and becomes bland by the second level. Track and Field moments take away from the game and feel completely out of place, but Mystical Ninja does bring forth good visual and sound design, so not all is bad. I downloaded this game because I was curious, but can’t recommend you do the same. If you’re interested in the series, consider learning more about The Legend of the Mystical Ninja for the Super Nintendo, also available on the Wii Virtual Console.

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