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Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon

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Reviewed by Scott McCall While games like NBA In the Zone '98 make you scratch your head, games like Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon reaffirm Konami's position as an elite company. Even though it contains a lot of weird things that only seem to make sense to the Japanese, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is a great stopgap before the RPG floodgates open. Konami of America should be applauded for having the guts to bring it over. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon has been called an action/adventure/RPG. In reality, though, there aren't very many RPG elements in here because there are neither turn-based battles nor experience points. There are, however, plenty of people to talk to, four characters who will eventually be in your party, many different items and abilities to acquire, and some magic to learn. Basically, if you ever played The Legend of the Mystical Ninja on the Super NES (that was the first and only Goemon game previously brought to the U.S.), Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is just like that, maybe with more emphasis on puzzles and exploration, except in a three-dimensional, Mario 64-like environment. As the story goes, you must take Goemon and his friends on a quest to save feudal Japan from a giant...peach! OK, well, that's what the alien craft looks like. You'll scour through enormous towns, beautiful countryside, and sinister castles as you search for important items, new weapons, helpful people, and power allies. You go through these environments a la Super Mario 64. Also, you take control of a cool giant robot called Impact from time-to-time. Control in the game is like Mario 64, except there aren't as many moves and it doesn't feel as smooth. The A button jumps, the B button attacks, the Z trigger makes you crawl, Bottom C switches between the characters, and more. The camera is programmed to always follow directly behind your character, but sometimes it takes a few seconds for it to swing around, which can be annoying. But you can also change the camera manually. To change the camera angle, you must hold R and press a corresponding C button. There is also a completely different control scheme for the giant robot Impact. For example, you can punch, shoot money, grapple, and more with it. The graphics in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon are bright, crisp, clear, and colorful. The polygon-based graphics aren't overly complex, but there is a lot of variety in the landscapes. Everything runs smoothly, too. There are the occasional clipping, pop-up, and camera problems, but there's nothing to complain that much about. Equally impressive is the sound. Amazingly enough, Konami of America kept the full-blown, full-length songs that are complete with singing in Japanese and just subtitled them. The two songs are nearly CD-quality and are impressive to say the least. On the downside, though, there is no way to skip through them if you've seen them before! As you're wondering through towns, you'll also hear occasional voice samples/greetings in Japanese. Some of the character dialogue in the cinemas from the Japanese version had to be removed, though. And music in the game is a great change of pace -- it'll take you back to the music of the SNES days. It's composed very well and is in stereo, too. Even though some may be put off by the cheesy humor and the weird, slightly incomprehensible story line, Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon and its wacky contents are a much-needed change of pace from the usual N64 fare. Chances are you'll have a blast playing this 20- to 25-hour quest. Just make sure you don't take it (or yourself) too seriously.

Graphics: 3.9 out of 5 Sound: 4.3 out of 5 Control: 3.7 out of 5 Gameplay: 4.4 out of 5 Lastability: 3.0 out of 5 Overall: 4.1 out of 5

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