It’s 2016 folks! 20 years ago, Nintendo graced us with what quickly became (and remains to this day) my favorite console. I know many people dislike the Nintendo 64, but I love it so. My goal with this series is to, just maybe, spark some interest in the quirky cartridges that could. And if you, like me, already love it, perhaps I can jolt some nostalgia for you.
I plan to write an article a month about my favorite N64 games. My list is not as conventional as some (not may Rareware games here!) so maybe you’ll find a hidden gem. I’ll start today with Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon.
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon
Release Date: April 16, 1998 (NA)
I’ll just start off by saying this is my favorite N64 game. Sure, maybe I should’ve saved this for last but eh, I’m coming out of the gate strong. The basic premise is that the Peach Mountain Shoguns have taken over feudal Edo and are trying to turn it into a stage for their musicals. No, the story isn’t deep but that’s what Goemon is all about. Gameplay is pretty standard platforming and hack and slash. Goemon wields a pipe (yes, like for smoking) and uses it to whack enemies. For ranges attacks you can throw money, but it costs you, well, money. Because you’re throwing it. Ahem. Anyway, you also unlock other playable characters as the game goes on. Ebisumaru uses a hammer to hit enemies, Sasuke the clockwork ninja has dual daggers, and Yae the mysterious ninja girl has a katana. None of the characters play particularly differently, but the variety is nice. You can switch between them on the fly.
Each character has their own special ability that they can use temporarily, and these are used to progress through the game. Goemon can effectively go Super Saiyan, granting him extra power. Ebisumaru can shrink into tight spaces. Sasuke has a high jump, and lastly Yae can transform into a mermaid equipped with a bazooka. Yes, I said mermaid with a bazooka. These abilities must be unlocked, not unlike a traditional Zelda game.
Let’s talk about Zelda for a minute. When most people think of the N64, they think of Ocarina of Time, and with good reason (which I’ll go into in a later article.) This game did it first though. Goemon plays like a cross between Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time: 3D platforming while travelling around a huge world, unlocking items and abilities that allow you to access new and more difficult dungeons. There are collectibles as well, mainly the lucky cats that serve as this game’s Pieces of Heart to extend your life bar.
The game gets really crazy between dungeons, however. That’s when, for certain fights, you get to summon the giant smiling robot, Impact! After a sequence where Impact destroys an army and gains fuel and bullets, the game goes inside the cockpit for a first-person duke out with another robot. Here, you can control each of your arms independently like a really versatile Punch-Out game. You can also shoot bullets and do fancy combos, including an ultimate beam attack after you fill a meter by landing attacks.
Have I mentioned the music? The game has an opening theme that is crazy, and each time you summon Impact you get a musical sequence. The standard tunes in the game are great as well, and some of the best on the console. They’re a nice mix of contemporary and traditional Japanese-style music.
Basically, go play this game. I replay it every year. It’s not only my favorite game on the console, but one of my favorites period.
Next time I’ll discuss a rather explosive game for the N64, so be sure to check in next month!