The Legend of the Mystical Ninja
Original North American Release Date: June 30th, 1992
The Goemon franchise is somewhat of an oddity for Konami. The series has seen several game releases going back to 1986, but The Legend of the Mystical Ninja was the first one to get an official North American release in 1992. Three other Goemon titles, as well as a puzzle game spin-off, were developed after The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, but those games remained exclusive to the Super Famicom in Japan.
It’s a real shame, because The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is an incredible action-adventure game that features some colorful character artwork, memorable music, well-designed levels, and most importantly of all, a lot of very addictive gameplay. In addition to traveling to different locations, fighting plenty of bad guys along the way, there are all kinds of activities that can easily sidetrack players, including the ability to bet on horse races or playing a condensed version of the 2D horizontal shooter Gradius!
The SNES has some great two-player games, and The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is certainly no exception. Although The Legend of the Mystical Ninja was critically acclaimed and commercially successful upon its North American release, the heavy costs of localization along with the heavy Japanese themes likely contributed to Konami’s decision to forego releasing the follow-ups in the West. Sadly, gamers had to wait about five years for the next Goemon game to get a North American release. Konami released Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo 64 in 1997, but the series probably lost any momentum that it originally had back in 1992. The Goemon titles definitely have a place in North America, but The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is likely the best that we can hope for at this point, especially given Konami’s large absence in the console market lately.