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Ninja Jajamaru-kun

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Jajamaru 1-3

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Jajamaru Gekimaden: Maboroshi no Kinmajō (じゃじゃ丸撃魔伝 幻の金魔城) - Famicom (1991)

Cover

Strategy Guide

The fourth Famicom Jajamaru-kun game (the subtitle means something like "Legend of the Demon Attack: The Illusionary Golden Demon Castle") is an action-RPG that borrows heavily from the original Zelda game. Each chapter consists of a small map, which usually contains a few towns and dungeons. It gives a sense of non-linearity, although you still need to tackle all of the events in a specific order.

The levels are all pretty simplistic mazes, and there's really not much in the way of puzzles. All you do is run around and swat at enemies until you stumble upon the stairs to the next level. Although you regain health regularly, the bad guys are very stingy with coughing up cash when they die, which can get really annoying when you're trying to buy something. In addition to your standard chain weapon, you can buy shuriken, and eventually you learn a number of jutsu techniques.

The cartoonish atmosphere of the earlier games has been ditched in favor of a more serious tone. The music is also particularly grating. It's a pretty blase game overall - Ninja Taro on the Game Boy is actually better.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Jaleco

Publisher:

Jaleco

Genre:

Action-RPG

Themes:

Ninjas!


Jajamaru Gekimaden: Maboroshi no Kinmajō (Famicom)

Jajamaru Gekimaden: Maboroshi no Kinmajō (Famicom)



Ninja Jajamaru: Ginga Daisakusen (忍者じゃじゃ丸 銀河大作戦) - Famicom (1991)

Cover

After dallying in RPG land for two episodes, Jajamaru finally returns to the world of side scrolling in the fifth and final Famicom game. A lot has changed since the original games, though. For starters, it looks and feels like a huge Super Mario Bros. 3 clone. The graphic style is extremely similar, and the status bar is almost exactly the same. If that wasn't enough, it plays very much like Nintendo's classic - even though Jajamaru's favorite weapons in the past have been shuriken, here he can only kill enemies by jumping on their heads. Similarly, you can only take a single hit before croaking. By holding down the B button, you begin running in place, allowing you to dash forward and make higher jumps. If you hold it down for a few seconds, you begin somersaulting, which makes you temporarily invulnerable. You can find power-ups by hitting blocks with your head, although you can jump on them too. Some of these powers include a special star that bounces along the ground when thrown - in no way in similar to the Mario's fireballs - an item that makes you temporarily invulnerable, and the ability to transform into a giant mechanical frog, perhaps the only real evidence that this is linked with any of the past Jajamaru-kun games. You can also find a space suit that protects you from one enemy attack.

A space suit? Yes, Jajamaru and friends have left behind the cartoonish world of Ancient Japan for outer space, where a whole bunch of vegetable themed planets have come under attack by evil forces. (The subtitle translates to "Epic Galactic Battle".) It allows for a few interesting levels - the hot pepper planet, for example, is the stereotypical fire stage, and standing in place for too long results in burned feet. You can also play as either Jajamaru or Princess Sakura, although their abilities are essentially identical.

It's pretty clearly a rip-off, but while it lacks both the depth and brilliance of Super Mario Bros. 3, it's still a fairly decent platformer. Jaleco had meant to bring the title to America under the name Squashed, and they littered the dialogue with terrible, terrible vegetable based puns. They also renamed the main characters Maru and Cori, although otherwise it would've stayed mostly identical to the Japanese version. Although the game was canned before released, a prototype resurfaced later.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Jaleco

Publisher:

Jaleco

Genre:

Action: Side-Scrolling

Themes:

Ninjas!
Player Character: Woman


Ninja Jajamaru: Ginga Daisakusen (Famicom)

Ninja Jajamaru: Ginga Daisakusen (Famicom)



Ninja Jajamaru-kun: Onikiri Ninpō Chō (忍者じゃじゃ丸 鬼斬忍法帖) - Saturn, PlayStation (1997)

Saturn Cover

PlayStation Cover

Jajamaru-kun and friends were practically everywhere in the 8-bit era, but other than the lone Super Famicom Ninja-kun game, he was pretty quiet during the 16-bit days. Jaleco then attempted to reimagine him in 3D for the 32-bit era on Saturn and Playstation, with the subtitle "Demon Killer Ninja Magic Scroll". It tries to keep the cute and goofy aesthetic of the old games, although the numerous CG cutscenes are embarrassingly dated, and the designers forgot Jajamaru's most memorable aspect - his huge, distinctive eyes. Although most of the stages are your traditional Japanese-style levels - villages, graveyards, etc. - some of the enemies are a bit weird, particularly the one-eyed basketball playing demons. It actually looks very reminiscent of the N64 Mystical Ninja games.

The game itself is a pretty standard 3D action-platformer - just get to the end of the level while killing bad guys along the way. By default, the camera always faces forward, so Jajamaru automatically strafes when moving left and right, which makes it a lot easier to control than most 3D games. The view automatically rotates at 90 degree angles whenever you hit a turn in a hallway, although you can also adjust the camera with the trigger buttons. Like the old games, Jajamaru's main weapons are his shuriken, although he can also find a number of spells to attack all of the enemies on the screen and such. There are boss encounters every few levels, which are a bit harder to deal with - the camera tries to stay focused on the enemy, so you're constantly circle strafing them. Unfortunately, it tends to get lost or hung up, which makes dodging their fire pretty annoying. The platforming aspects are awkward when they show up, but they're relatively rare.

It's a pretty simple and straightforward game, and surprisingly avoids most of the control faults associated with early 3D action games. However, it's not particularly pretty, and its simplicity also means that it's quite easy. There aren't many levels, so it can be quickly conquered without much time or effort. It's a bit hard to find for either platform, and while it's agreeable, it's not compelling enough to justify searching for. Although the PlayStation and Saturn versions may look identical on the surface - they have the same cover, and the same cutscenes - the level layouts are different in each version. Also, the Saturn version is technically an updated version, as it was released later, denoted by the "kin" after the name, meaning "gold". It has a map screen, where little old school sprites of Jajamaru, Princess Sakura, and the Catfish pirate show up. Every few stages, you'll also get to play a level of the original Ninja Jajamaru-kun game, just to remind you of its heritage.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Jaleco

Publisher:

Jaleco

Genre:

Action: 3rd Person

Themes:

Ninjas!


Ninja Jajamaru-kun: Onikiri Ninpō Chō (Saturn)

Ninja Jajamaru-kun: Onikiri Ninpō Chō (Saturn)

Ninja Jajamaru-kun: Onikiri Ninpō Chō (Saturn)

Ninja Jajamaru-kun: Onikiri Ninpō Chō (Saturn)



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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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