Legend of the Mystical Ninja

Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyūshutsu Emaki (がんばれゴエモンゆき姫救出絵巻) / Legend of the Mystical Ninja - SNES, Wii, WiiU (1991)

The first 16-bit Goemon title was also the first to be released in America and Europe. As the game begins, ghosts are invading Edo. But that’s only a small part of the problem: the princess Yuki has been kidnapped, and you have to ally with a band of ninja cats to help save the day. The Japanese subtitle translates to “The Picture Scroll of Princess Yuki’s Rescue”.

Each stage is divided into two parts: the first half plays out like the Famicom Goemon games, where you run around towns, gather money, and buy items. The second half is a straight-up side scrolling platformer. Other than one level late in the game, you never need to worry about finding passes or fumbling around for hidden stuff.  There are even more things to do in the towns, like playing carnival games, trivia games, or betting on race horses. One of these mini-games is the first level of Gradius, introduced by Konami Lady. There are also new “jutsu” (techniques), which are super moves powered by scrolls, though you need to visit dojos to learn them.

There are passwords to keep track of your progress, but they’re very long. These keep track of all of your items, though if you lose all of your lives, you restart the stage completely bare. You can visit certain houses to get a password, which creates a snapshot of your money, items, and lives at that point. When you get a game over, you can restore from that point, although this doesn’t replenish your stock of lives. While the game technically isn’t all that difficult, it can be punishing. Plus, getting hit deplete your shoe stock and will degrade your speed, slowing down your character tremendously. This is why it’s important to stock up on defensive and curative items.

Otherwise, it’s an excellent game, with decent graphics and an infectious score filled with traditional Japanese instruments. It shows off the SNES’ power with numerous elements similar to Super Castlevania IV, including a boss (a gigantic mask) that expands to fill the screen. The humor is even sillier – in the first stage you visit a travel agency and choose a package to get to the next level, the cheapest being a barrel and an oar, the most expensive being a cruise liner. There’s a variety of silly enemies, too, like the house full of tiny robots, including clumsy ninja, who trip and spill their soup. Yae makes an appearance, and The Wise Old Man, Sasuke, and Kurobei (a ninja cat) are introduced.

It’s surprising that most of this game made it intact when it was localized. Goemon and Ebisumaru were named Kid Yang and Dr. Ying, oddly giving Chinese names to Japanese characters. Most of the food is the same, except the rice balls were turned into pizza. A few scenes, one involving a fart joke and another a strip tease, were removed. Otherwise, even the signs were left untranslated.

Japanese Screenshots


Series NavigationGanbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shogun Magginesu >>