Way back in the mid 80’s Arcades were still the place to be to get your hands on the most advanced video games of the time. One such Arcade cabinet was Konami’s Mr. Goemon, staring a protagonist few foresaw would eventually gain an entire series on home consoles. Since then, it has been emulated over to consoles that dwarf the original arcade machine in technical prowess. It first graced the Xbox 360 within the ‘Game Room’ feature in 2010. Publisher Hamster Corporation have rolled it out under their Arcade Archives collection on the PS4 over the past Year.
The character is based upon a 16th century bandit, Ishikawa Goemon, considered to be the Japanese equivalent of Robin Hood. As such you play as the hero of the poor, wielding a pipe as your primary method of dispatching your pursuers. The game does get creative with this, throwing all kinds of ninjas, samurai and even gurus riding on clouds. The port remains true to the classic with both the sound track and the Ukiyo-e (17th-20th century Japanese art style) inspired visuals. The controls also stay true to the Arcade with the stick for movement and two attack buttons. One for basic melee and the other for throwing projectiles that are scattered for pick up all over the levels.
This side-scrolling platform only consists of four levels each containing two zones each. In true arcade style there are mid and end level boss battles. You have to remember arcade games were designed to look easy and belied how punishingly hard it really was. The more you lost the more pennies would get pumped into the coin slot. Not to worry though, there are options within this port that allow you customize the game to your playing ability. If you open the options menu by pressing the touch pad you will see a list of augments. At the top you will find ‘create interrupt save data’. This will save your progress indefinitely and you can restart from that point simply by closing and re-opening the game. Otherwise if you die the game will start from the beginning. Don’t fret as that save remains and will be available as soon as you close and restart the game. If that wasn’t enough, under ‘game settings’ you can choose between 2 and 7 lives and alter the score you gain extra lives at. You can even play with the enemy difficulty that reduces or increases the amount of enemies on-screen and how fast they attack.
This is valuable information for the uninitiated; did I mention this game is crushingly difficult? You will have lots of enemies attacking you at any one time. If they get close they can grab you in an attempt to subdue, you can shake yourself free by wiggling the analogue stick back and forth. This is time-consuming and leaves you vulnerable to projectiles. Jumping on enemies will force them down a level; this gets rid of them completely if they’re on the bottom platform, though, you will gain no points for this. Bear in mind that if they are above you they essentially block your attempt to get to the higher level. Bouncing on heads can save you from projectiles though you lose any real control and you can’t use them to bounce to a higher platform. Enemies of all varieties have a fondness for throwing objects at you. If you are hit just once you lose a life. There are no continues or restart points outside of the one you can manufacture as described above. To top it all off you have a time limit portrayed by the sun or moon going across the top of the screen.
Sadly emulating something with such precision also brought with it some more archaic movement controls that since then other games have set the standard. Jump in this game is ‘up’ on the analogue staying true to the arcade. Oddly this is the only control that you can’t rebind, considering it’s importance they dropped the ball on this. The problem with it being a permanent fixture to ‘up’ is occasions of jumping awkwardly on the spot. The game also gets confused at times, bouncing on an enemy when you actually wanted to go to the platform above. This is infrequent but frustrating when it happens since every move counts. As history lessons go it highlights the evolution of why jump became a simple and more accurate button press in platformers later on.
Overall this is a faithful translation of the Mr. Goemon Arcade classic that will be a must buy for the retro arcade game enthusiast. It even comes with optional extra features for those that find the challenge a bit too crushing. However, once completed there’s little reason to play this again outside of nostalgia and augmenting a harder challenge to play. I’m not saying what’s there isn’t good; just that it may be a little short-lived for many.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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