Goemon’s Great Adventure Review – Definitive 50 N64 Game #42

The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games

By the time of the N64, the Goemon series had received numerous entries in Japan dating back to the Famicom, but western gamers had seen little of it besides the SNES’s The Legend of the Mystical Ninja.

The series had something of a western revival on the N64 with Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and Goemon’s Great Adventure… before disappearing back to Japan, seemingly forever.

While Mystical Ninja took the Goemon series to the third dimension – with mixed results, thanks largely to camera issues – Great Adventure (mostly) returns the series to its traditional 2D roots, choosing to put the player on a largely linear path of fast-paced action rather than allowing him or her to meander an open world.

The story here is truly baffling, and you really have to play to believe the sheer wacky-ness of this very Japanese tale. Goemon and his, umm, special partner Ebisumaru are brought to Wiseman’s house to witness the unveiling of an incredible invention, a device which can return the dead back to life. Of course, everything goes wrong, and a prince of the underworld is revived. Goemon and company soon find themselves on the road, fighting their way through ancient Japan.

Along the way, the hot-blooded Goemon and the Ninja of Justice Ebisumaru are joined by robotic Clockwork Ninja Sasuke and Secret Investigational Ninja Yae. When playing on your own, you’re able to swap between the characters, but a second player can also join in and play as one of them.

Each character has his or her choice of weapons. Goemon prefers an oversized smoking pipe, but he can also throw coins as projectiles. Goemon’s allies, meanwhile, utilize everything from katanas to bombs. Of course, the team will need all of it to get through the ghosts and other baddies on their surreal quest.

The game’s enemies come at you fast and furious. On top of that, there’s precision platforming to manage. You’ve got to be quick to survive. The minimal health guages and few power-ups mean even the slightest mistake could be a disaster.

An ever-moving sundial also keeps play fresh – every few minutes, levels will change from day to night (or back). Playing at night means tougher enemies – but more coins to collect.

Great Adventure does slow occasionally and let you take a breather – players can travel to towns to stock up on items and pick up side quests. I recommend fighting past the frustration of trying to talk NPCs with the same button used for jumping just to hear all the crazy, non-nonsensical and oddly-translated things they have to say.

All together, Goemon’s Great Adventure makes for an incredibly challenging and bizarre game, but with one RATHER ALLURING game over screen, it’s hard to stop going back for more.

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Check back next week for entry #41 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.