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Ninja Jajamaru-kun

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Ninja Jajamaru-kun (忍者じゃじゃ丸くん) - Famicom, MSX, Arcade, Mobile, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Windows, Wii, 3DS (1985)

MSX Cover Artwork

Famicom Cover

Ninja Jajamaru-kun borrows several elements from the original Ninja-kun game - as a tiny little shuriken wielding ninja, you need to clear the stage from enemies in order to progress. Once again, Jajamaru can only be killed by projectiles, and can stun enemies by jumping on their heads. Similarly, if you spend enough time in a stage, the kidnapped Princess Sakura will toss cherry blossoms from the top of the screen - if you collect three, you're taken to special stage where you have to dodge bombs thrown by the evil Catfish Pirate, and toss shurikens upward to kill him. Although there are technically only three stages, they continuously loop, each placing harder and harder enemies. Every destroyed foe yields a spirit, which grants bonus points for collecting them. Thankfully, the controls have been fixed from the arcade Ninja-kun, so jumping is much easier.

However, instead of a vertically scrolling screen, the levels in Jajamaru-kun scrolls only horizontally. Each stage is approximately three screens wide and comprised of four floors. In order to progress upward, you need to jump into the brick ceilings, destroying them and leap onto the next floor. Many bricks reveal a power-up when destroyed. These can include extra lives, bonus score coins, little orbs that enhance speed, and a little cart that makes Jajamaru-kun temporarily invincible. If you collect three power-ups, you summon the ultimate weapon - a gigantic frog which Jajamaru then rides and uses to eat up all of the enemies. You can also find bombs hidden in the bricks, which kill the hero when jumping into them. Some of the stupider enemies fall through the holes you've made, allowing you for a quick and easy kill.

There are some charming aspects to Ninja Jajamaru-kun - before each stage, the Catfish Pirate tries to laugh at you, but since apparently Jaleco hadn't mastered the PCM abilities of the Famicom, it sounds very low-tech and silly. The theme music is pretty repetitive, but it's also catchy and memorable. It's not a bad game, but much like the Famicom port of Ninja-kun, the animation is very choppy and the controls aren't as responsive as they should be. It was ported to the MSX home computer not long after the Famicom release, and later published in the arcades as Vs. Jajamaru-kun. This version is almost exactly the same except for some altered enemy sprites. It shows up on the Jaleco Collection Vol. 1 for PlayStation and in emulated form on Jajamaru Jr. Denshouki Jaleco Memorial for the Game Boy Advance, released in 2004. It was also ported to Windows as part of a retro release series, and although it's pretty much just an emulation of the original Famicom game, it uses the same altered sprites as the arcade version.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Jaleco

Publisher:

Jaleco

Genre:

Action: Side-Scrolling

Themes:

Ninjas!


Ninja Jajamaru-kun (Famicom)

Ninja Jajamaru-kun (Famicom)

Ninja Jajamaru-kun (Famicom)



Comparison Screenshots


Jajamaru no Daibōken (じゃじゃ丸の大冒険) - Famicom, Game Boy Advance (1986)

Cover

Much like the second Ninja-kun game, Jajamaru no Daibouken ("Jajamaru's Great Adventure") ditches the vertically oriented levels in favor of more traditional side-scrolling stages. The gameplay remains more or less the same, although the goal is simply to make it to the end of each level rather than killing everything. Certain blocks can be destroyed by jumping into them, which either hide coins (good), bombs (obviously bad), and on rare occasions, your faithful frog, that's it. The lack of power-ups is a bit disappointing.

At the end of each stage, you fight a boss monster in the forest, which is similar to the bonus stages in the original Jajamaru-kun game. Although the controls are better and it feels less sloppy than the first game, it loses some of its appeal, considering you can just run past most enemies to get to the end. Like its predecessor, it also shows up in emulated form on the Jajamaru Jr. Denshouki Jaleco Memorial for the Game Boy Advance.

Jajamaru no Daibōken (Famicom)

Quick Info:

Developer:

Jaleco

Publisher:

Jaleco

Genre:

Action: Side-Scrolling

Themes:

Damsel in Distress
Ninjas!


Jajamaru no Daibōken (Famicom)

Jajamaru no Daibōken (Famicom)



Jajamaru Ninpō Chō (じゃじゃ丸忍法帳) / Taro's Quest - Famicom (1989)

Cover

Eager to hop on the RPG gravy train, the third Jajamaru-kun title (translated as "The Ninja Magic Scroll") is a Dragon Quest clone. This time, Jajamaru ditches his ninja outfit, but the game still maintains the cutesy demeanor of the earlier titles. Most of the enemies look pretty goofy, and some of the graphics - especially the wavy battle transitions - are fairly decent. The game itself is relatively simple, featuring the slow, kludgy interface that Dragon Quest is known for.

There are only two playable characters - Jajamaru and Princess Sakura - and you can only fight one enemy at a time. Interestingly enough, whenever you level up, you're taught a new skill by Buddha himself. There are three different chapters that you can choose at the beginning game, at least. At any rate, there are certainly worse RPGs on the Famicom.

Jaleco had apparently planned to release this in America under the title Taro's Quest. A beta ROM released on the internet shows a good 2/3 of the game fully translated. However, much of the game was to be redesigned for American audiences. Nearly all of the graphics have been redrawn to look less anime-ish, and most of the sillier monsters have been ditched in favor of serious-looking foes. The heroes have also been renamed "Taro" and "Hanna".

Quick Info:

Developer:

Jaleco

Publisher:

Jaleco

Genre:

RPG: Japanese Style

Themes:

Ninjas!
Player Character: Woman


Jajamaru Ninpō Chō (Famicom)

Jajamaru Ninpō Chō (Famicom)

Jajamaru Ninpō Chō (Famicom)



Comparison Screenshots


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Ninja-kun Games

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Jajamaru 1-3

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Jajamaru 4-5

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Jajamaru Portable

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