Ganbare Goemon Kirakira Dōchū: Boku ga Dancer ni Natta Wake, Super Nintendo

Also known (in English) as: “Go for it! Goemon: The Twinkling Journey – The Reason I Became a Dancer“, this fourth instalment of the much-loved Goemon [Super Nintendo] series is about as crazy, challenging and fun as a video game can be.

Many feel that this final Goemon game on the Super Nintendo is the best in the series, so it’s great that it’s finally been given an (unofficial) English translation. The game follows the same pattern as previously, with isometric exploration sections, interspersed with side-scrolling platform/action sections.

The story sees the four main characters (Goemon, Ebisumaru, Sasuke, and Yae) on a mission to help free the planet Impact from the “evil athlete” Seppukumaru. When they arrive they discover that Seppukumaru has erected an impenetrable barrier over the planet that is being generated from four orbiting moons, so they decide to split up and take on each of these worlds separately. What this does – for the first part of the game – is provide each of the individual characters with a separate set of levels to take on, and these can be attempted in any order you like. So, if you’re having trouble with the levels on one world, you can switch characters and try something on another. Which is good because some of the levels are downright headbangers, in terms of difficulty.

Each of the individual characters have their own different move styles and weapons. Goemon has his usual pipe for bashing enemies and can throw coins as projectiles, and he also acquires a chain pipe for Bionic Commando-like swinging early in the game. Ebisumaru throws shurikens and has a streamer on a stick; Sasuke has a pair of knives for close-up attacks and can also throw bombs, and Yae has a sword, and a bazooka. Also: each character can supplement their abilities by completing a certain task in their respective worlds. Goemon can charge up his coin attacks so that he throws multiple coins at once; Ebisumaru can drill into the ground using a hilarious ballerina twirl; Sasuke gains wall knives that allow him to climb vertical walls; and Yae can transform into a mermaid and swim underwater (try transforming on dry land if you want a laugh).

In terms of graphics and sound: pretty much every single aspect of this game is beautifully presented, with superbly drawn and animated sprites and lush, colourful backgrounds. The music is a mix of jolly and atmospheric tunes, and the sound effects are excellent. There’s little to fault with this game in terms of presentation.

Gameplay-wise: this is arguably the toughest of the four Goemon SNES games. Holding down the Y button makes each character run slightly faster than normal, and this is vital for making it past certain areas. Some of the jumps you’ve got to make are literally insane, but a lot of it is down to skill and timing. Also: some of the chain-swinging sections are extremely frustrating, until you master the timing of it. And another key to success in this game is quickly switching between weapons. Knowing which weapons to use, and when, is part and parcel of a successful run. I was watching one guy play this on YouTube, and he makes it look easy! I have to admit that I struggled with it at times, having to resort to quicksaves to make it through certain levels. I’m thinking in particular of the chase sequence on Planet Qubasa – a level on Goemon‘s planet – in which time really is of the essence. If you’re not quick enough: you won’t make it through. And that wasn’t the only level I had trouble with. Parts of this game are really very difficult…

That said: Goemon: The Twinkling Journey is such a great game, full of humour and wonderful little touches, that it’s worth tearing your hair out for.

As a final note: I just want to give credit to DDSTranslation for their English translation of this game. They did an exceptional job. It must’ve been a huge amount of work, not only in creating the English text for the game, but also changing all the relevant graphics. The fact that there are people out there who do this as a hobby, so that non Japanese speakers can enjoy the game, is worthy of serious praise. So thank you to them for their efforts.

See also: Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Ganbare Goemon 2 and Ganbare Goemon 3.

More: Goemon series on Wikipedia

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