September 28, 2020

Ganbare Goemon Gaiden - Ranking

Story & World

I found the story to be lackadaisical and disjointed; I rarely had any idea what I was suppose to be doing outside of completing a nearby quest for whatever town I happened to be near.  Stuff just kinda happens on the straightforward journey through the game, or at least that's what it seemed like to me.  Perhaps this is all canon to the series, I have no idea.  The only driving force I had to get me through the game was just wanting to get to the end of the game.  Not good.  However, the odd and whimsical world goes to great lengths to charm and distract the player, so it's not entirely bad.  Ebisumaru was a hoot and there were plenty of other quirky little scenes that sometimes even managed to get a hearty guffaw from this surly old curmudgeon.

Character Development

Four stat system (Atk, Def, Agi, Luk) with static increases each level, with boosts from equipment accounting for about half of the total power (though usually just attack and defence).  Three of the four party members had access to jutsu techniques, each having a decent amount of uniques while still sharing the crucial healing spells.  And one will be able to utilize a lot of them because: a) most of them are cheap, and b) they work on bosses.  Consumables mostly replicate jutsu effects but I always kept a few of each type around just in case of character death.  There was also one piece of equipment called Clay which was pretty cool because it could be put into any weapon or armour slot and it'd just work.  Of course, since the UI doesn't show any stat changes, it was a real pain in the ass to have to equip and de-equip through all the slots in order to figure out its stats.
I liked the initial progression of starting with two members and then picking up the others a bit down the corridor.  I almost thought this was going to be a party-swappable game when Yae and Lin were introduced, but it turned out Lin was just a temporary Yae replacement.

Combat & Monsters

Standard JRPG structure with turns being missed if an enemy dies before a character's action.  There's not a lot of damage jutsu in the game, so most battles are pure melee.  The only status ailment monsters can inflict is the easily curable poison and it's rare the creature that can use any group-damaging jutsu.  So while the combat system might have that classic blandness, the monsters themselves are an impressively diverse assemble.  Monster design inspiration had no holds barred and paid no heed to era, culture, or reason.  One could find themselves battling orcs and samurai one minute only to be fighting dinosaurs and appliances the next.  Unfortunately, this random assortment of everything completely destroys any kind of world cohesion and even my positronic imagination couldn't manage to weave all the parts together into something comprehendible.

Graphics & Sound

Above average graphics with lots of background variety in each of the areas.  Lots of monster sprites, mostly all of which are fairly well done, but, most impressively, there was no palette swapping that I can recall.  Every monster had a "getting sacked" sprite, including all the bosses, and I really appreciated that even the character's portraits were given the same treatment.  Music was average and was serviceable, just like much of the rest of the game.


By midgame, Goemon and the gang had more than enough cash to handle any new town purchasing, except for one piece of armour that showed up in a few shops selling for 65,000 golds, well out of the reach of party funds.  I could have ground me up some extra cash to buy it, but GGG was already easy enough without acquiring some uber-equipment.  The game is predictably quite short and feels a lot like a bunch of side quests that are lined up one right after the other, rather than anything epic.  The goofiness throughout the game should be more than enough to keep one's interests somewhat piqued whilst slogging through the serviceable gameplay.