With plenty of slapstick, gags, puns, and a number of jokes that were clearly lost in translation, Mystical Ninja impresses with its humor and charm as well as its great music, presentation overall, and very straightforward gameplay. Not sure why you’re riding a tiger on the box front, though. Seriously, that’s totally fucking misleading.
Available For: SNES
Release Date: 1992
Archetype: Action, Adventure, Platformer
When Edo is under threat by alien and/or supernatural and/or bestial and/or just plain annoying forces, who ya gonna call? GOEMON (renamed Kid Ying)! And Ebisumaru (renamed Dr. Yang), I guess. Mystical Ninja is effectively part brawler, hack n slash, action, adventure, RPG, party game, horse racing gambler, maze, and much more all rolled into one.
Mystical Ninja also features lush and varied environments, complete with all the SNES trimmings you would expect including mode 7 effects, variable foreground and background effects, lots of transparency work, vibrant 16-bit graphics, and so on. Effectively the game is about journeying across ancient Japan beating the hell out of anyone that gets in your path…and I mean everyone.
Initially you almost seem like a bad guy because it’s as though the entire town wants to kill you. With the exception of a few innocent bystanders, you’ll have the paperboy throwing papers at you, crotchety old samurai bumping into you just because they can, a fisherman slamming into you (and if you take him out then his fish proceeds to flop around in your shit), and much more…and that’s just the first part of the first area.
As far as the RPG aspects, well, they’re very light, so I didn’t feel the need to mention them in the archetypes section. See, if you search around you can find different powerups that permanently raise your max health as well as buy stuff that will enhance your defense, jumping ability, etc., but only until you get smacked around.
Really, since it’s meant to play more like an arcade game, it doesn’t look, feel, or retain elements standard in RPGs, so saying the RPG elements are “light” is, well…putting it lightly. Gameplay is broken into three phases. The first phase is the town phase. In many areas you have the ability to go around and explore a town or town-like setting where there are shops, NPCs, and so on to discover.
The second phase is the dungeon. Now, I SAY dungeon, but again, it can be anything from a forest to a mountain to a ninja training dojo to whatever. In fact, in many cases, the transition from town to dungeon is wholly transparent as there are plenty of enemies in towns, too. Finally, the third phase is the boss and often there are mini-bosses as well.
In many respects, Konami has stayed traditional to their older NES titles by having a separation of dungeon and boss, but still having bosses for many of the rounds in the game. And in many others, the game is totally new and different, what with the whole town aspect, shops, puzzles, and entirely different level of pacing than most oldschool platformers.
There are also cutscenes between rounds which, when they don’t try for actual written dialogue, are actually pretty hilarious. The slapstick is what wins overall in this title. I really wish the actual written jokes were just as funny, but most of it is simple pun-work with a few rare exceptions. Among the odd shops you come across are also arcades, gambling dens, and all sorts of various diversions.
For example, you can participate in playing Konami’s version of Breakout, Tron, or even an officially licensed Konami title: Gradius 3. There are also hotels where you can recover most or all of your health, though honestly, you typically find enough health pickups and other ways to recover your health (such as the various foods you can purchase) that it’s not necessary, but there are a few slapstick jokes thrown in here as well, so it’s all good.
Honestly, with a game like this it’s hard to come up with more than a paragraph’s worth of content because it’s very straightforward and just damn fun. It plays like so many games at once you almost wonder how it even works and yet it truly…just works. It’s a very fun experience that you definitely don’t want to pass up and hey, you made sure it’s two player!