Ganbare Goemon 2 is where the series starts getting weird


Ganbare Goemon 2 is where the series starts to get weird

Ganbare Goemon 2 with Taco Hog


It is an absolute crime that we have obtained so few titles from the Ganbare Goemon series in the West. Not that they were all great, but they almost always tried new things and were generally pleasant. We didn’t see our first game until the third (fourth? fifth? it’s complicated) of the series, localized in 1992 Legend of the mystical ninja on SNES.

While the original Ganbare Goemon on Famicom started the series well, it would be 1989 Ganbare Goemon 2 this would establish one of the defining characteristics of the franchise: simultaneous cooperation.

Ganbare Goemon 2 Gameplay

As the story goes, Goemon is in prison, where he meets his future best friend Ebisumaru. Ebisu-chan talks about a mystical treasure. Tired of life in prison, the duo decides to leave and cross Japan in search of this treasure.

Much has been borrowed and much changed since the first Ganbare Goemon. The original title had a fairly strict gameplay loop of finding three passes in each level to continue. Although it does return for some stages, Ganbare Goemon 2 shake things up by ending others with bosses and cutscenes. Less emphasis is placed on finding holes in the ground by jumping over them. It also doubles down on mini-games and anachronism jokes.

the Seaweed The series has never been totally deadpan, but there’s an obvious decline in craziness across the titles. Ganbare Goemon 2 for example, strip shows interrupted by yokai, the ability to run in the women’s bath, and a store that sells Konami game cartridges that turn enemies into popular characters from other games. Although there are no giant roller-skating robots yet, the weirdness Seaweed is known to be in full swing.

Ganbare Goemon's Dialog 2

This is also where Goemon really begins his journey through Japan. Most games in the series involve him traveling to his home country, but the original Ganbare Goemon glued to a prefecture. Here you travel from Kyushu to Hokkaido, one level at a time. Feudal Japan may not be as glorious as it would be on the SNES, but it gives the Ganbare Goemon 2 a decent sense of variety and a tangible sense of progression.

It can be a hassle, though. Most of the levels subscribe to the rule of two underground passages and one of them in a “3D” maze. However, you can also buy passes in stores, which can be expensive. There’s no indication of where the underground passages are hidden, so you jump into slightly visible spots to find them. You might end up buying the passes to avoid the hazard of jumping through levels.

But one step doesn’t even give you the option. You must purchase all three passes. The only ways to get money is to smash enemies and play, so if you haven’t managed to rack up all the necessary scratch by the time you reach that level, all you have to do is take care of the rest. It’s painful, especially in co-op.

Ganbare Goemon 2 Boss

It might not be the best game out there. Seaweed series, but it’s a formative title, cementing the standards that would be maintained throughout the series. One thing to note is that while the Ganbare Goemon the series is always pleasant, it is very rarely brilliant. Most titles have little issues that hold them back, and the formula they contain changes so much from game to game that it never quite falls into place.

Ganbare Goemon 2 the bigger setbacks come down to the difficulty and need to grind. Money can take you far. Items will allow you to take extra hits, you can heal yourself in many shops and inns around the stages, and you can even buy more lives. It makes a big difference when it comes to getting through the most difficult areas, of which there are quite a few. It’s not impossible, and I’ve succeeded more than once with a co-op partner; it can just make things much more awkward.

Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had in co-op, as long as someone doesn’t mind being the weird Ebisumaru. While the first Famicom title may have arrived too soon to feel the full effects of The Legend of Zelda and by Metroid impact on console games, Ganbare Goemon 2 ditched all the old arcade remnants and is a much more enjoyable experience than the first game. It’s a pretty solid title for the Famicom as a whole.

Can you get through Ganbare Goemon 2 without knowing Japanese? It’s hard. I’ve done it many times knowing minimal Japanese, but that’s enough to let me know what each building does. However, the basics of the gameplay are quite easy to understand without it. Luckily, if you can’t navigate the language, there are fan translations that can greatly demystify things.

It was ported to the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles, but only in Japan. I still hold out hope that Konami will bring us a Seaweed collection, but given that they had an M2 port Getsu Fuuma’s Lair to modern consoles and didn’t bother to translate it; excuse me if I have a doubt.

Check out previous Famicom Fridays here.

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