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Recommended by FallenGrace as part of this list.
I may never gain the ability to be even halfway decent at shooters, but I think I can recognize a good one when I see one. Immediately, this game does something I found interesting in that you can do the first four levels in whatever order you feel like, similar to Mega Man in a way. I started with level three, which I actually found the hardest of the first four levels. Don't get it twisted though, just because I found this the hardest of the initial levels doesn't mean the others are a cakewalk. This game is quite challenging and some of the later levels felt like an endurance test.
I don't know if this is a common feature in a lot of other shooters, but unlike most of the ones I've played, picking up a powerup doesn't replace the one you're currently using, instead with the press of the C button you can switch between all your collected weapons, five in total! Although dying will result in you losing your currently equipped weapon, but don't fret, as it seemed like powerups were quite plentiful, at least for me. I don't know what I'd do without my beloved blade and hunter shots. You can press the A button to adjust your ship's speed by a multiple of 25 up to 100 speed and by holding the A button you can adjust it to a specific number of your liking (I mostly kept it at 80 speed).
Upon starting a level, you might notice that the screen can scroll vertically down. Most levels are like this and it's great as it gives you more of a chance to avoid oncoming projectiles. By the way, this game is gorgeous! That parallax scrolling used on the ocean in the first level looks so good! I do have to mention this though, the game suffers from quite a bit of slowdown, but this might be a blessing in disguise. The Saturn and the Sega Ages rerelease of the game remove most, if not all, of the slowdown, but in return, might make the game even more difficult for you. Lastly, before I close this off, I gotta mention the soundtrack; it rocks just like the rest of the game!
Recommended by Shinkiro as part of this list.
My only experience with the Goemon games before playing this were the N64 titles, so I have no idea if this game's story pickups immediately after its predecessor. Here's the story; a weeb general of an unspecified nationality wants to westernize Japan with his army of bunny men. Go to his castle and put a stop to his antics.
The game is an action sidescroller and my initial thoughts were that it felt great to play. Your attacks are quick and snappy. You can select from three different characters. They all have a standard melee attack which can be upgraded and a projectile attack. Goemon is your all-rounder. He swings around a pipe and tosses coins. Ebisumaru is the slowest of the group but hits the hardest and throws shurikens. Sasuke, as you can probably predict, is the most agile of the three but is also the weakest and has a bomb projectile. I honestly stuck with Goemon for my playthrough. It's not like I didn't want to try out the others, but you can only switch characters by saving your game, resetting, selecting your file and then you can choose another character. The other characters are not upgraded and have no money at all, you have to start from scratch, so I just stuck with Goemon.
In a few stages you'll find rideable mechs and, honestly, they're fine! I feel like they slow the pace of the game down but never to a point that they harm my overall enjoyment. At least they were optional for the most part and few and far between. Some levels have alternate exits but I'm not sure if I found any of them. I do know there is a secret boss fight with Dracula I didn't find. In-between a few of the platforming stages, you'll arrive in towns where you can save your game, heal up, buy temporary upgrades, play mini games to earn money or encounter one of the many references to other Konami games. The game is split up into 6 worlds and at the end of every world you get your tried and true boss fight, but every other boss fight you get an Impact boss fight. This is Impact's first appearance and is clearly inspired by Tokusatsu shows and films. In a later game, it even gets its own theme song! These fights are played in first person. You have a fast jab, a straight punch, a projectile attack, you can block with the L and R buttons and a literal pipe bomb with limited uses. During these fights you have an energy meter that's constantly going down, but before every Impact fight you get an auto scrolling destruction sequence. This is where you'll get energy for the boss fights. The energy you get for these boss fights is fully dependent on how much havoc you cause during these sequences, so don't be afraid to go ape shit! Causing enough destruction is also how you get pipe bombs.
There's not much else to say. It's just a very solid action platformer that doesn't overstay its welcome. You can finish this in about 2 hours and it's not too difficult. This and the rest of the Goemon games on Super Famicom got English fan translations in 2020. Even "The Legend of the Mystical Ninja" got a retranslation! I should probably play that before jumping into the other two, huh?
I played the original River City Girls around it's launch date, and while I know it's not a great game, I still found that some enjoyment could be wrung from it (playing with a friend most definitely helped). Everything is better with a friend. The sprite work is gorgeous and I liked a few bits of the soundtrack. The combat felt fine! Not bad, not great, just fine! This is due to enemies being complete damage sponges. That's about it, though. I remember a few things about the game, but its mostly faded from my puny monkey brain. Now onto River City Girls 2.
It's pretty much the same thing, huh? No, really, I have the same exact praises as I did for the first game. Except now that this is still somewhat fresh in my mind, I can mention a few things I didn't like! The writing is groan-worthy. I hope I'm not alone with wanting to roll my eyes when I hear a character in a game utter the word doggo or the phrase "bye Felicia".
Do you like going across the map to collect a macguffin then slowly bring it back to its destination, all the while tanky enemies bum-rush you from both sides? Do you like repeating this process for six to nine hours? Despite reaching the max level and nearly maxing out my attack stat (two points off) enemies still felt like they took a bit too much damage to fully take down. If my fading memory serves me right, a lot of the enemies that are present here are completely carried over from the first game. Even the map mostly feels the same!
I dunno, I think the game is just fine. I played this with the same friend that played RCG1 with me and we both agreed that it felt very samey. I can't help but think this games existence feels unnecessary. Like, sure, this game might be an overall better experience than the first game, but I don't care! Why was this made (aside from the obvious)? It felt like the same exact shit just longer. Besides the pixel art, I don't think it does anything inherently good or bad. It just kind of exists. Going forward, this might be my go-to example of a 5/10 game. Truly the worst fate any piece of art could succumb to, being completely forgettable.