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  1. I ran into a similar problem trying to play the Famicom Mini / NES Classics GBA re-releases, where the games wouldn’t even load. An anti-piracy/anti-emulation solution from Nintendo, which worked in this case, I suppose. No patches or solutions are available because no-one cared enough.
  2. Arguably, it translates more as "Investigative Action," but even then it's debatable whether the term is as widespread as Metroidvania. Metroid games are described as "side-scrolling action games” and SOTN and subsequent games, "action RPGs”.
  3. According to the Game Catalog Wiki (in Japanese), there are actually four places that had serious bugs where you could get stuck. To be fair, two of them are apparently ones where you need to know what you're doing, and the other two were fixed in later pressings/re-releases. As far as to how it could be possible to have a situation where a retail game could have these game-ending bugs? Well, as far as I have been able to piece together, the Ganbare Goemon series sold really well, but it seems that Konami either didn't have faith in the team (which had to borrow time to make SFC Goemon 2 and 4) or placed too much pressure on them (as it happened with SFC Goemon 3). In fact, a lot of Goemon games are full of bugs. Goemon Gaiden 1 in particular has a critical cart save bug, and that's a 15-hour RPG.
  4. Yeah, you're right, and I was aware of that. Arguably, there was nothing subtle about Konami arcade games in the eighties and early nineties: they were designed to steal your money. The thing about Mr. Goemon, however, is that the general consensus of people who played the game when it was released is that it was relatively easy even back in the day--which is why it turned out to be a commercial failure. All of the Famicom and MSX Goemon games have been fully fan-translated--including two translations for 1 & 2 released last month. I can't vouch for the translations, but I would really recommend playing Ganbare Goemon 2, at the very least. It has a unique character and a fantastic Michiru Yamane soundtrack.
  5. Ultimately, the fact that Mr. Goemon is an arcade game is the game’s weakness and strength. It is one of those arcade games that was nice to play, but a breezy, lighthearted experience that didn’t last very long, and also an experience that didn’t linger very much in your memory. Playing the game in 2020, Mr. Goemon feels like it should be one of the progenitors of the endless runner genre that really developed into its own genre with the rise of smartphone games. There is a time limit in the game, but it’s fairly forgiving, and the game rewards you for patient play... up to a point. There are points in every level that become bottlenecks, where you have to get rid of enemies quickly and efficiently, but I am never good enough for the challenge. For me, it proved to be a very difficult game—although it’s frustrating to read that Mr. Goemon is not known as a difficult game, and Goemon fans in general don’t hold this title in high esteem because it doesn’t have a lot of content and it can be completed quickly. This runs completely against my experience, but either that is because of my fading reflexes, and/or the ROM of the game is set at a harder difficulty, or not quite emulated correctly. (I don’t own a Switch or a PS4, so I’m playing this via MAME. It’s not the best way to start this project, I’ll admit.). No matter how long I play, I can’t quite get a grasp of what should be a relatively simple game, and it doesn’t help that, like a lot of early Konami games, this is one of those games where you have to press up on the controller to jump. In any case, after repeatedly failing to get past the third stage (Nagoya?), I gave up. But I will return to the game as I play other titles in the series. Next up: Ganbare Goemon: Karakuri Dochu on the Famicom. (On a side-note: This has become a bigger project than I'd intended, actually--but in a good way. There is a surprising amount of things tied to the Goemon games, and I'm not sure what to do with all of it, but in the meantime I'll keep posting regularly about my gameplay experiences.)
  6. I can't believe I've let this thread remain dormant for such a long time. I'll be posting more regularly now that I have a better grasp of what the series is about, and what the creators wanted to make. Yes, absolutely. The game would lose most of its appeal if you were to take away those details, and at least for me those first few bars of the first period are what kept me replaying the game, despite some demoralizing deaths in the third stage. Being able to jump on top of the mountain in the second level, the weaponized wigs, the various characters waiting inside doorways... Of all the Goemon games, this strikes me as the most well-researched--although I suppose it helps that Mr. Goemon is smaller in scale than what you'd get on consoles. I'm not sure about the enemies having a wank after they get you, though... Most enemies will launch into an exaggerated kyogen-like laughter if you die. This is the shortest video I was able to find about the technique: Are you sure you're not talking about the bootleg copy that was released about a month later titled "Mr. Spank-e-mon(key)?
  7. IIRC you have to collect scrolls to use special abilities, and you learn those abilities at the dojos found somewhere in the town stages. The manual is very 90s, but it’s worth a look. Edit: Please tell me that you’re playing the game with a keyboard.
  8. Another genre that was severely hampered by the hardware, so you didn’t see really good examples on the platform. I would say Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing, Motocross Maniacs, Fastest Lap, Dead Heat Scramble, Kamen Rider SD Hashire! Mighty Racers, and Street Racer are worth a look.
  9. I'm one game away from starting this game, but I wanted to write a few words about this game, as it's one of my favorite games on the SNES. (Spoilered for length.) I haven't played the game in the last 10 years or so, so I expect it has not aged as well in some areas, but what I remember the most is the sense of humor and the sheer playfulness at every level. Carnival games, trivia games, gambling on dice, mazes, betting on horse races, the first level of Gradius, the "gym," the part-time jobs you did to get money... It's amazing how much they stuffed into this game. Konami changed a few things when they localized the game, eliminating the strip joints and changing onigiri to pizza (although you had fast-food restaurants in Gaiden), for example--but not as much as you'd expect. Lastly, I can't talk about this game without mentioning the incredible soundtrack by Harumi Ueko (AKA Jimmy Weckl, who would later be heavily involved in Konami's Bemani games) and Kazuhiko Uehara, who would become the sound director of the Goemon series, and is also responsible for most of my favorite SNES soundtracks. They took advantage of the sampling capabilities of the SNES sound chip to simulate Japanese instruments, and it works really well, adding a unique personality to each level. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is available on several platforms, and probably remains the most popular Goemon game--to some degree aided by the simultaneous 2-player feature, which eventually breaks down into a "yell at your partner"-type of experience. One thing to note about the emulated versions is that they eliminate the need to write down and re-input the passwords for your progress. (As with most Goemon games, the game doesn't have battery save.) The game is available as a SFC/SNES cart, as well as on the Wii, Wii U, and New 3DS Virtual Consoles. It's also part of a compilation cart on the GBA, alongside SFC Goemon 2, although I would only recommend it if you don't mind the characteristically hissy GBA sound and you want to use it to unlock the missing features of the DS game. Due to underwhelming sales, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja ended up being the first and last SNES Goemon game sold outside Japan, but if you're interested, some translation groups have released translation patches (including a retranslation of the original SFC game).
  10. Inspired choice, @Qazimod. The Rayforce series also has great ports on mobile devices. Playing all three games on my iPad earlier this year was quite an experience. I'll nominate Mole Mania on the original Game Boy.
  11. Sound-wise, I have mixed feelings. The game has a really strong sound design: the instruments, pacing, tempo, etc are really well thought-out, and the music is really catchy. As far as I’m aware, they are all original compositions, but they sound authentic to the kabuki motif, and they adhere quite strictly to the standard folk style in Japanese music, with one percussion instrument and one melodic instrument, plus one or two instruments that might be called for at certain times. In Mr. Goemon’s case, this means music performed via a taiko drum and a flute... But the flute sounds very tinny, and somehow it doesn’t resonate with me, despite some impressive arpeggio work:
  12. Mr. Goemon is really impressive, graphically speaking. It’s not the show-stopper that was OutRun, and similar games such as Rolling Thunder and Rygar are more impressive. Konami had a lot of things going on at the time, and it’s quite possible that they couldn’t afford to develop those kinds of games, time-wise and budget-wise. However, you get the feeling that they made up for it by focusing on the gameplay and also making games really, really hard. Art design was obviously another area where they could shine, and Mr. Goemon does not disappoint. There is a lot of detail given to everything in the game. Mr. Goemon has really sold, chunky sprites with a lot of personality and life. Every level is different in terms of level design and regional differences. There is a huge amount of level decorations and designs taken from kabuki, and on top of that the developers incorporated a bunch of ukiyo-e designs (mainly Hokusai and Hiroshige works) in the levels. If you lose a life, all the enemies onscreen break into a very stage-like kabuki laugh, with their heads held high as everyone shares a hearty guffaw about your blunder. There is a map at each mid-point in the level, and Goemon uses the time to puff some smoke from his pipe. It has a lot of great little touches, and what’s even better, the game also runs at a smooth 60 fps, which really adds to the game. Every stage is set at night. It makes sense, as a “noble bandit” such as Goemon would probably only act at night—although I suspect that the developers went this route because of all the sprites on the screen. It’s really well-thought-out, though: the night setting brings with it a very surreal atmosphere. Konami would rethink the concept for future Goemon games, but the almost dream-like quality of the game, with a lot of images and patterns shamelessly swiped from kabuki and ukiyo-e, works in its favor here. Everything works together really well that it feels like an episode of a cartoon or comedy TV show or from the 1970s/early 1980s.
  13. It’s an intriguing introduction to the game. You insert a coin and press the start button, and Goemon enters stage right, as the kabuki clapper sounds the beginning of play. Without the arcade flyers, it’s a little difficult to discern exactly what you’re supposed to do, but Mr. Goemon is not a complex game—eventually you get the hang of it. It’s very much a run-and-gun game, although in this case you attack enemies with your kiseru pipe or projectile items you find in the stage. You can also jump on enemies, but this doesn’t kill them—it merely drops them down a level, unless you did so at the ground level, where they do fall out of the screen. In contrast to other games of this ilk, the enemies themselves don’t kill you if they touch you. They grab you, and you have to waggle the joystick to break free; if you don’t, you lose a life. Enemy projectiles, however, do kill you. The game itself is comprised of 5 levels, going along the Tokaido from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto, and those levels are in turn divided into 2 stages each: first, the town stage, as Goemon traverses through a town and the townsfolk try to stop you. At the end of the first stage, a pile of gold is waiting for you, and you are given pause to breathe before the second half of the level, which starts with a whistle as the police start chasing you. You encounter a boss at the end of the second half of the level, and after escaping or defeating the boss, Goemon throws the money he stole around the town. At the end of the final stage, Goemon climbs to the top of the castle to seize a golden figure as the castle lord looks in distraught. Then the game loops over.
  14. Let’s start our journey as we whistle along. Mr. Goemon (1986, Arcade) Developed by Konami (Arcade Division?) Ports: Game Room (Xbox360), Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch Played via MAME. In truth, a chronological retrospective of the Goemon series doesn’t need to start with this game. Mr. Goemon is a little too different to subsequent games, and yet it must be mentioned as it introduces a lot of elements that you’d see in the console games. Before I started this project, I was vaguely aware that this game existed, but I had something very different in mind—like a medieval Japan version of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. However, although Mr. Goemon is a side-scrolling action game, it plays like other Konami action games of the time, like Rush’n Attack/Green Beret. There are several articles out there (the Wikipedia entry stands out in particular) that suggest that this game was called Mr. Kabuki, maybe unofficially. And, despite the slight inaccuracy, the alternative title gives a better idea of what the game looks like and what it’s about. The game launches straight into the title screen, with the characteristic colors of kabuki theater, and after a minute or so launches into a somewhat mysterious attract screen with a blue-ish-haired man facing a green goblin-like floating creature in front of a screen with a bamboo design. The green goblin-like creature is Raijin, the thunder god, of course, and even if you didn’t know anything about Japanese culture, you would be able to infer that the man is (Mr.) Goemon. Raijin makes a threatening kabuki-like dance, Goemon looks indignant, his mouth agape... And then you are back at the title screen.
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