The charm and tight controls let this game hold up to this day
I was reminded the other day just how good this game was when it was released. Made me want to revisit it so I decided to play through it again and see if it still holds up. As the title of the game implies it follows the exploits of Goemon who happens be a unsung hero of a wacky version of Japan. This time a pair of stage performers have gotten their hands on a instant stage beam and plan on turning all of Japan into their very own stage. Seeing their dastardly handiwork first hand he decides to head out with his best friend Ebisumaru to stop their evil plans.
At this point I was thinking about bringing up how different this is compared to the rest of the series. Yet the only new thing is that it is a 3D platformer. With the bizarre plot and the usual cast of characters this follows closely how the previous games worked. It does feel like it has a bit more of a focus on exploration thanks to how the health system works. Collecting 4 lucky cats would give our heroes a extra hit point. Which does give the player a reason to explore a bit more. Still most of the areas are fairly linear. That isn’t a bad thing in my book since it keeps the action going at a quick pace.
The action itself is simple. Running around smacking things with a pipe or hammer is the main focus. Every battle comes down to timing the strike correctly so the enemy doesn’t hit you. Getting into a dungeon changes things up a bit with it being very Zelda like. Going around collecting keys to get into a new area is the gist of this section. Of course a boss waits at the end of each yet they are never much of a challenge. Just to make sure things weren’t to samey the rare but cool giant robot Impact sections are always a highlight. These parts switch to a first person view point and require the player to time punches or yen shots to interrupt the enemy robot. Some extra flashy special moves can also be used to lessen the length of these fights.
Even though Goemon might be in the title a total of 4 characters are playable. Each come with their own unique special items that are gained throughout the 8 hour adventure. Every item must be obtained either in a dungeon or out in the world via a mini quest. For example the first item is a long pipe that lets our heroes get over impossible to jump pits. Thanks to the helpful fortune teller Plasma it is impossible to not know what you need to do next to continue. Unfortunately in a few spots the developers really made it feel like they are trying to pad out the run time a bit. Having to pay for a important item comes up 3 times and if you decided to spend your money on equipment then you’ll have to earn some more. Having to do this certainly fits the silly nature of the game but the inversion of not getting the gem after beating a boss is a bummer.
In conclusion this is just a generally delightful game that holds up quite well. The zanniness of the world of Goemon is just a fun time and it isn’t often that a N64 game has a set of fully voiced musical numbers. All of the controls are spot on too and other than one very bad platform placement it never felt like I was getting annoyed by the game. Therefor this game holds up better than you would think. Certainly worth playing again. Now to see if I can finally beat the sequel to this that is a lot harder.