More Retro Corner for you and this time I’ve got Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, ah the good old days when Konami didn’t suck. Konami were one of my favourite developers back then, perhaps my second favourite 3rd party developer after Capcom. Games such as Contra, ISS, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Silent Hill and Castlevania were some of my most loved games growing up but sadly that Konami is long gone.
The Konami of today is very different to the one we saw in the 90′s, with all due respect you could argue the only good stuff Konami put out are Metal Gear Solid and Pro Evolution Soccer. Metal Gear Solid is too far up it’s own ass and has been since Metal Gear Solid 3 whilst Pro Evolution Soccer looks laughable compared to FIFA in every area. Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 showed some signs of the series getting back on track so maybe there’s hope.
None of that matters however, we’re here to talk about CLASSIC Konami and one of my favourite games of all time, the wonderful Mystical Ninja Staring Goemon for the Nintendo 64. I’m going to come clean here, though there are many games in the series I’ve actually only ever played this one so I’m actually a rubbish fan when you look at it. There’s a SNES game which looks kind of cool and a sequel to Mystical Ninja also for the Nintendo 64 which I’ll get to later.
We should start at exactly where the game itself starts off, the amazing opening intro.
There’s a story in Mystical Ninja but it’s nothing too in depth, let’s just say it’s something only the Japanese could come up with. There’s no voice acting so everything plays out via text boxes but it’s perfectly serviceable and doesn’t hurt the game in anyway. The story never takes itself seriously and for this reason it actually ends up being more memorable than all the crap wannabe hollywood summer blockbuster story telling we get these days.
As the title suggests the main character you play as is Goemon, a somewhat chubby Ninja who dresses like one more than he plays like one. Also by your side is your long time friend Ebisumaru who is fat and lazy by comparison. Eventually you’re joined by Yae who is a female ninja and Sasuke who is actually a robot yet a very nimble one at that, Sasuke is my favourite character in the game. What’s cool about Mystical Ninja is the ability to play as all of these characters and they each have their own abilities making for a varied and diverse game.
Mystical Ninja at the time confused me as to what type of game it was, there were platforming elements yet having control of four different character reminded me of an RPG where you travel with a team. Certain areas were big and vast much like the open playgrounds of Super Mario 64 yet the game also featured “dungeons” much like the ones in The Legend of Zelda complete with a boss at the end. Even in 2012 I struggle to pick what type of genre Mystical Ninja belongs in, it borrows from other games and ties everything together in a neat package.
Okay at this point I’m starting to think the game even has elements from Metroid as it never really tells you what you can and can’t do. You’re thrown into the world of Mystical Ninja and you explore, you’ll gain new abilities and notice an area that you couldn’t reach before is now accessible. Goemon himself gains a hookshot item early on, it’s rather useful yet you can find an upgrade to extend it’s reach. This should all sound familiar to Metroid fans, I’m not sure what type of game Mystical Ninja is but I like it.
So far the game sounds like a clone of other games, a great clone of superb games but that’s not to say Mystical Ninja does not have it’s own ideas. It borrows from other games yes but it’s not often you see them all combined into one game plus you get to kick ass as a giant robot named Impact. One of the more memorable moments of Mystical Ninja to me was playing as Impact, much like the intro I HAVE to link you to his opening.
Playing as Impact is basically like controlling the MegaZord from Power Rangers and it’s handled extremely well. The action is viewed in first person and you have access to punches with a finishing kick, projectiles, a hookshot and even a cut-scene inducing massive beam attack. Seriously the more I write about it the more excited I get, Mystical Ninja was AWESOME. The game had everything, I cannot emphasise it enough when I tell you Mystical Ninja is all your favourite games rolled into one.
The graphics in Mystical Ninja are good, actually they are pretty damn great and have aged gracefully. Way too many Nintendo 64 games were a blurry mess with sloppy framerates but not Mystical Ninja. The game was an extremely clean colourful title that ran as smoothly as it looked, some of the larger areas are obviously rather plain looking but when you’re running around towns or exploring dungeons Mystical Ninja is a fine looking game. Visually it’s basically what the Nintendo 64 was supposed to do in the first place, it’s perfectly playable even by today’s standards.
Even more impressive than the graphics was the music in the game, don’t worry about the sounds effects because those are fine and do their job. It’s the soundtrack that leaves a lasting impression, full of happy catchy melodies this is some of the best music you’ll hear from an Nintendo 64. Only about three tracks actually feature vocals but as you can see in the videos posted the sound quality is not compromised. Much like the visuals it’s all clean crisp and clear which goes to show there’s nothing wrong with keeping it safe rather than push the Nintendo 64 to it’s limits.
What can I say about Mystical Ninja that others have not already? It’s a true classic in the Nintendo 64 library. It’s not the revolution that games like Super Mario 64, Goldeneye and Zelda were but in terms of game quality it absolutely deserves to stand alongside those games. Mystical Ninja isn’t the game that attempts the impossible, everything that it does is done right. There’s no real flaw to Mystical Ninja in general, it’s simply a pleasant experience from start to finish.
It truly does pain me to think that today’s generation of gamers are growing up with games like Call of Duty and won’t have something like a Mystical Ninja to tell future generations about. I would like to thank non suck Konami of the 90′s for Mystical Ninja, the game was one of the highlights of my childhood.
MYSTICAL NINJA IN 2012
I’m starting to hate these “insert retro game here” in 2012 sections, it seems like it always results in pain and suffering. Right so I guess we should just get on with it, pass me the tissue.
Mystical Ninja is dead these days, in fact it’s been dead for a while and the chances of it returning are looking slim. There was a sequel to Mystical Ninja on the Nintendo 64 but I actually never got round to playing that one because it was one of those 2.5D games and at the time that angered me. I loved Mystical Ninja so much that all I wanted was another 3D adventure especially since 3D was all the rage during them days so I missed out. The game does look good and I have it on my Amazon wishlist so I will try it out at some point, bit expensive though for an old title.
Some more games were released since then but nothing in the way of a real adventure type game I was looking for, there was a PS2 Mystical Ninja game released but it didn’t look all that great to be honest. The problem with all these “minor” releases is that the damn things never made it out of Japan so even if I wanted to play them I couldn’t. The two Nintendo 64 games Konami released were basically the last time we ever saw Mystical Ninja outside Japan.
Chances of a 3D sequel to the Nintendo 64 original are zero, Japan will probably get something Mystical Ninja related eventually like some stupid card game though we won’t even get that. If a miracle did happen and a sequel were made it would probably be rubbish, do you actually think Konami is even capable of making a decent game let alone a Mystical Ninja game in this day in age?
At present Mystical Ninja is stuck on the Nintendo 64, the game has never been re-released since and no word on a Virtual Console release. Konami did release a GameBoy Mystical Ninja game from the early 90′s on the 3DS eShop so they are aware the series does exist. Best thing Mystical Ninja fans can hope for is a re-release of the Nintendo 64 games on the Virtual Console, sorry guys.