Konami’s second Ganbare Goemon game for the Nintendo 64 reverts to the 2D side-scrolling style of older titles in the series.

While you could be forgiven for thinking of this as Konami taking a step back, Goemon’s Great Adventure (or Mystical Ninja 2 Starring Goemon, as it’s known in Europe) is, in fact, the more polished and entertaining of the two main Ganbare Goemon games on N64, especially when it comes to the localisation. This title also features a two-player co-operative mode, a feature that makes a welcome return after it was sadly cut from Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon due to development difficulties.

Instead of the open 3D environments found in the previous N64 Ganbare Goemon game, Goemon’s Great Adventure features five maps, each with their own self-contained 2D side-scrolling stages. The game does, however, incorporate a similar aesthetic design to its predecessor, and uses 3D visuals and camera angles to create a 2.5D effect that at times gives the impression of 3D movement. You can move in full 3D in each region’s town stage, although these environments are relatively confined.

Goemon’s Great Adventure’s premise – as per virtually all other Ganbare Goemon games – is inherently Japanese to say the least. The game is set in an anachronistic Feudal Japan, where giant robots and telephones are the norm, and every aspect of Japanese folklore is reality.

You play as Goemon, a blue-spiky-haired hero (who is based loosely on the semi-legendary thief, Ishikawa Goemon) and his three friends: Ebisumaru,a portly, self-titled ninja of justice; Sasuke, a clockwork-robot ninja; and Yae, a katana-wielding Kunoichi.

These four characters must travel through each of the game’s regions, collecting entry passes (that enable you to progress through the game) and defeating bosses along the way in order to stop an evil crazy nun from reviving the prince of the underworld. Don’t worry if you’re lost at this point; just play the game and everything will make sense…sort of!

Using Goemon and Co., you must jump and fight your way through each stage, as well as use each character’s unique abilities to overcome certain obstacles. Some of the stages feature multiple entry passes, which you achieve by completing sub-objectives or finding alternate paths. On top of this, there are a number of non-playable characters in each region’s town, from whom you can take on additional missions.

At the end of each game world, you must take control of Impact and Miss Impact, two giant mechanical, semi-autonomous robots, to battle enemy robots or beings. You participate in these battles from a first-person perspective (although if playing co-operatively, the second player will control one of the robots in the background, albeit with limited functions). Switching between the two robots (and knowing when to do so) is key to beating these segments.

Goemon’s Great Adventure sold over 160,000 copies worldwide, and was the last Ganbare Goemon game to be released outside Japan. A board-game spin-off known as Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku was released exclusively in Japan in 1999 for the N64, but it is not a direct sequel.

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