Many SPOILERS are contained throughout these posts. You have been warned!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu (NES) playthrough log

Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu screenshot Here's the first "true" Goemon game that started the gameplay formula that the series is known for. Although at this point it still hasn't found its wacky, comedic flavor yet (these early games still use the frowning, serious Goemon), the gameplay got its roots here.

The stages are open-ended towns, that you explore in 3/4 overhead view (like in Double Dragon, so you can move in 8 directions but still jump over stuff like a sidescroller).. You get money by jumping over chests and pots, and also sometimes get lucky cats that increase your attack power, and sandals that increase your speed. There are various shops that sell defensive equipment, health, etc.. some houses are enter-able but have no purpose except for a line of dialog. Also there are hidden passages that you can only find by jumping over a specific unmarked part of the ground (or if you buy the candle item which lets you see hidden passages for a while).

Also in every town, one of the enter-able shops contains an entrance to a 3D first-person maze section. There's nothing that can kill you in these sections, and the timer is frozen, so there's literally no possible way to die here.. I don't really get the point of it. But each town has one of them, and 1 of the 3 passes you need to get is always in this section, it's a completely weird and pointless detour from the rest of the gameplay... but that's kind of what this series is known for, a mish-mash of various different gameplay elements mixed in with adventure/rpg/platforming.

This first game is kind of flawed.. although it tries some new things, it does get repetitive very quickly. Once I got going, I got into the flow of completing every stage:
- find the shop containing the 3D maze, and complete it
- find the shop that sells a candle
- use the candle to find all the hidden passages until you have all 3 passes
- find the exit

After about 4 stages I felt like I've already experienced the whole game, and now was just going through the exact same motions over and over. I had to stop after about 6 stages and leave a save state for later, in order to not die of boredom. The game even keeps going after you finish stage 13, with harder versions of those same 13 stages... and it keeps cycling through until you've beaten those 13 stages 8 times in a row before you finally get a screen saying "The End"... lol fuck that

Also I don't like how this 3/4 perspective doesn't lend itself well to platforming. You have to be very slow and careful when jumping over gaps and when there are no walls on the sides of the area (especially when you have to jump around looking for hidden passages). There's not much else for challenge besides the falling hazards, I'm usually fully powered up with all the equipment and tons of money so none of the other hazards pose much of a threat.. I suppose if I got game over, and had to restart the level with no upgrades and no money, then it would get hard. that never happened though... The later games have proper 2D platforming sections that are separate from the exploration sections, which would fix a lot of the issues with these early games.

Finished the rest of this game.. the last few stages were actually a bit different... they get more complex in the latter half for sure, and if I didn't decide to use a walkthrough map here, I would've just resorted to making my own map...

There was a huge mansion maze, with tiny 2 pixel pathways that lead to some of the hidden passages.. The 2nd last stage didn't have shops or passes or a maze, it was just a straight "find the exit" stage. from here on all of the hidden passages are merely rest areas where you might find healing items. money is worthless now...

The last stage does have shops and a maze, but no passes, and the maze is completely optional. I died on accident here because of the shitty graphics for the water.. and that made this last stage very difficult. The enemies are incredibly fierce in this stage. I found the best way to deal with them is to kill them as soon as they spawn, rather than letting them pile up... I admit, without a guide here this probably would've taken me a few tries. I pretty much had to just take the fastest path to the maze (this maze was of course the biggest and most confusing one yet), and then it was just a short path to the exit... however, the exit isn't clearly distinguishable like it is in all the other levels. There are a bunch of wooden windows all in a row and you have to walk directly in between two specific ones to reach the exit.. the enemies don't let up at all here either.

Finally, beat the game and saw the ending cutscene. I suppose the only difference if you beat all 8 difficulties is you get a black screen with text saying "The End" or something...

Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu screenshot Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu screenshot

A bit later I tried out the MSX2 port of this game just to see how it's different... it is SO excruciatingly slow. Goemon's max walking speed is almost like the min walking speed on the Famicom version. Your coin shots go slower too, and you don't jump as high, so you can only cover about half the screen when taking out enemies...

As for the improvements... you get money for killing enemies now, but that's made up for by the fact there doesn't seem to be as many hidden passages with chests, and killing the ladies takes some money away from you.. also the 3D mazes seem to cost a lot more in this one.. and since your walking speed is slower the candle doesn't cover as much ground. there's so many bad things about this I can't even focus on the advantages. this first stage alone is taking me forever to beat. I think I'll probably give up on this version.

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