Never a household name here in the States, the games in the Goemon series have always been full of top-notch graphics, excellent play mechanics, and weird, Japanese-style humor. The last time out, our blue-haired hero starred in a 3D adventure, that while great fun, had a few minor control issues inherent in most 3D games these days. Goemon's Great Adventure, the new N64 title, goes back to the "old days" of Legend of the Mystical Ninja on the SNES (a great, underrated 2-player gem- go track down a copy!), and spices things up with simple, yet challenging gameplay, huge, detailed levels, and perhaps the weirdest story i've ever heard!
How weird? The Wiseman of Iga has created a "super gorgeous ghost machine" to revive dead celebrities, like Marilyn Monroe, or James Dean (!). He sends out an urgent message to Goemon and his friend Ebisumaru, who rush over to his place- only to see the machine get swiped by Bisumaru, a lovestruck "evil nun", who uses the machine to revive Dochuki, Boss of the Underworld, instead! To add to that, the machine also spits out a horde of evil(but cute) spirits all over the place, and that means Goemon and company have but one choice: get the machine back, send Dochuki back downstairs for good, and stop Bisumaru from doing any more damage! Weird enough for you? The funny thing is, a few notches in the other direction, and you have the makings of a "serious" horror adventure on your hands, like a Castlevania, or a Silent Hill. Goemon's Great Adventure plays it all for laughs, and it more than succeeds!
The game's five huge levels are divided into five sections each. There's the action stages, where you battle enemies, collecting coins as you go, the town stages, where you talk to villagers, spend the coins you collected on food and items, switch characters and look for entry passes to the gate and castle stages.The castles are full of deathtraps, and have cool boss battles, but the Impact stages, where you control a huge mech called Goemon Impact, and have Miss Impact assisting you are the best(more on this later)! Some of the people you speak to in the towns will ask you to do certain things- if you accept, you get sent on a short mission, which usually involves acquiring an item or group of items in a set period of time. I got a kick out of D.J. Beatmania's cameo and the errand he sent me on, as well as the music straight from that particular game! The mushroom hunt is loads of fun, and challenging, as well.
As you make your way through the game, you'll find tons of little details, such as authentic- looking Japanese scenery and buildings, the excellent music (has Konami even done a bad soundtrack yet?), and smooth multi-scrolling action, complete with pinpoint control. This doesn't mean that the game is a cakewalk, though. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Castlevania (no, not the N64 version!), and there's even a level later in the game that sort of pays homage to those vampire smashing Belmonts. The game is a bit different, depending on the character you play with, as each has a different way going through the game and dealing with enemies. Goemon uses a pipe to smack enemies, and has a flaming coin attack, Ebisumaru tosses shuriken, butt bounces, and uses (ahem) "poison mist" from his rear! The two additional characters Yae, a female ninja and the clockwork ninja", Sasuke have their own attacks, and become playable once you find them (not hard at all!)...Then there are those Impacts! As I said earlier, the Goemon Impact boss battles are the highlight of the game, not only because they look and play so well, but because of the strategy involved in using two giant robots against a single enemy!
In the one-player game, you have to toss a baton over to Miss Impact while in battle, and take over her movements as she "tags in". The two-player game has each player controlling a mech, and they can both attack at the same time- if P1 tosses the baton to P2, the view switches to P2's viewpoint, and P1 is in the background still attacking! This would make a great game in itself, and i hope that Konami considers creating something like this as a stand alone game in the future! Speaking of two-player modes, GGA's is pure fun, with the ability to piggyback through the action scenes, with one player controlling the running and jumping, while another attacks! this is what co-op playing should be like, as any error on the person doing the moving will send both players to their doom, and the person attacking has to be on the ball, else... The Game Over screen is worth seeing a couple of times, with it's dancing, hula-hooping, musclebound, Speedo-clad devils (don't ask- just see for yourself!)!
So, chalk yet another winner up for Konami! If you want something else to do besides whine about the lack of quality software on the N64, you'd be doing yourself a BIG disservice by not picking up Goemon's Great Adventure. Not only is it one of the best and most original games on the system, It's incredibly fun and challenging, and one of those games you'll go back to again and again, even after you discover all its secrets!
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