november 24, 2013

Ganbare Goemon on famicom

The Ganbare Goemon series (aka "Mystical Ninja") has a few supporters in the west, but not many. The series was never hugely popular and most games were only released in Japan. The first game in the series was on the famicom ("NES") in Japan. It sold in 1.2 million copies and was around the 20th most sold famicom game in my calculations and sources...

For comparisment, Gradius sold 1 million, Excitebike 1.4, and Super Mario Bros 3 sold 3,9. I don't think the source ( is 100% trustworthy because there is no way Jackie Chan sold that much, but okay, Ganbare Goemon still sold a lot. I have had the game many times.

Personally I enjoy simpler games so I appreciate the famicom Goemon. I also enjoyed playing through one of the Game Boy exclusive versions. This one that was only released in Japan, until a later Konami GB collection.

There were also 4 games on the Super Famicom. Ganbare Goemon 1,2,3 and a fourth I can't remember the name of.
The games can be confusing until you know how to play. The purpose in each level is, I think, to take three "house" items and then you can progress to the next level. You can either find the house item laying around, or you can buy them in a shop for money. You can easily collect money by jumping over stuff, so it is a matter of how you spend your time.

I enjoy the freedom of the games in how you can walk around freely to discover things. The levels have hidden undergrounds and secrets that can be discovered and it is nice to see a game that feels big on such as small system. It could be mentioned that Goemon was the first famicom game that was 256kB big, when it was released in July 1986.

A game like Super Mario Bros was only 40 kb, while The Legend of Zelda was the largest famicom game at 128 kb just six months earlier on the disk system.

I made a video of the first game. Not great quality but okay. I had found all houses by 04:45 but couldn't find the exit until 09:10, maybe you want to skip those minutes.

When you die you are game over, but the game is fair in that you can easily get more gold and buy health when you run low. It just takes some time. 

A month later I tried out Goemon 2 also on famicom. This game is more uncommon than the first game.

Here you can see me just collecting money for a minute... I don't mind, I think non-linear games are more interesting.
The games have the typical nice looking Konami graphics and music, and gameplay is  excellent. There is quite a lot of Japanese text but you may be surprised to know that you can still play it with no problem. I don't even know what all items do, so I bought them all. There are probably guides for what the items do.

If you like more advanced gameplay and nicer graphics, the Super Famicom had several interesting goemon games. Those games also have a platforming mode in combination with the top-down perspective. I am not that big of a SFC player so I haven't played them much, but I know there are several goemon fans in the world.

Later, the N64 had two games, I think. They are in 3D. I have not tried them either. N64 is probably my least favorite console. In addition to these action games, there were several spin off games in various genres and on different consoles. More info at:

If you don't have a famicom console and want to try the original goemon game you could also get the Famicom Mini re-release for GBA. GBA is region free.
I sold this a while ago for 149 SEK (25$ ?). Famicom mini games are very pretty.

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