|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.