On a platform dominated by Mario, Zelda, and a ton of great Rare platformers, Mystical Ninja was not a game that got a lot of press, but it was a great parody of Japanese action stories. A action-adventure game set in ancient Japan, Mystical Ninja starts off with a UFO crashing in the town of Edo. You start off the game playing as Goemon: a blue-haired ninja that wields a pipe. At any time you can switch to his best friend Ebisumaru, who is also a ninja, albeit a little on the overweight side. The self-titled Ninja of Justice wields hammers that are very useful for dispatching the game's various enemies. They begin their adventure exploring the crash site at [Oedo] Castle, only to find it full of monsters and villains. There, they meet a character called the "Baron", who planned to turn the castle into a "beautiful stage". From there, the game takes you all over Japan in an effort to stop "The Gang of Four". On the way, you meet Goemon's friends Sasuke and Yae, both ninjas with their own awesome moves and abilities.
From the moment you first turn on the game, you'll realize that this game is incredibly Japanese. Most of the references and jokes within the game reference Japanese culture, but the translation makes it just seem outright wacky. Thankfully, this fits the game just fine. However, if you're looking for an anime game, you're better off looking for another game to play. Of course, if you like strange humor, fun platforming segments and stellar soundtracks, track down a copy of this game as soon as possible. Any game that let's you control a roller-skating robot through a town filled with exploding trees is worth checking out. The world of Mystical Ninjaa definitely delivers a wacky experience.
The gameplay itself is great, but not without it's flaws. It's filled with platforming segments that are fun, but the camera does not always want to cooperate. This rarely gets in the way of the gameplay, but it can lead to a few frustrating moments. Throughout the game you will earn new abilities such as turning Yae into a mermaid, or lettin Goemon go full-on super saiyan. These abilities allow you to access new areas in the game's vast play spaces, and make combat very intersting. Being able to switch characters at any time means that you'll almost always get to play as your favorite character, which is a definite bonus. The characters are by no means segegrated in cutscenes, either. They often converse with each other, leading to some hilarious encounters.
The soundtrack is bananas. It starts off very safe, with soothing songs to accompany a stroll through the town, with some decent action music for your first castle. The gameplay really shines early on with the soundtrack taking a backseat for a short time. Then almost out of nowhere, your first few steps onto [Kai] Highway are accompanied by this showstopping number! From there, the soundtrack almost makes the game, especially the first time you summon Impact.
Mystical Ninja is certainly one of the wackier games to grace the Nintendo 64, but it's certainly one of the best. It got a few sequels, one of which was a 2D platformer on the same console. It's definitely worth playing, even if only for the wacky story that could have been pulled straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. If you're a fan of wacky stories, funny parodies, and grand adventures, you'll have a mystical time with your friend Goemon.