Although few in the West are aware of it, Ninja Jajamaru-kun
was one of Jaleco's most prolific franchises. The little Ninja was Jaleco's mascot and like Sega's Alex Kidd
, would star in so many different game styles that there is barely any consistency among them. Today we will be taking a look at Ninja Jajamaru: Ginga Daisakusen
. It is the fifth and final Ninja Jajamaru-kun
game for the Famicom. Released in 1991, Ninja Jajamaru: Ginga Daisakusen
(Epic Galactic Battle) sees Jajamaru & friends leave the confines of cartoonish Japan for an adventure in space. A group of vegetable themed planets have come under attack and it's up to Jajamaru and Princess Sakura to save them. The game is clearly a love letter to Super Mario Bros 3
as it tries to clone the same gameplay and art style. The status bar looks almost identical to the one found in Nintendo's classic. A hack of Ginga Daisakusen
was released in 2014 by Bishop Bros with Jajamaru replaced with Reggie from the YouTube channel Metal Jesus Rocks. A NES release was planned under the name Squashed
, but development was stopped in the prototyping stage.
Climbing these walls is one of the most frustrating parts of the game.
The gameplay mimics Super Mario Bros 3
as our heroes can defeat enemies by jumping on their heads or by using one of the many power-ups found in blocks. Power-ups include a star that bounces across the ground when thrown, a spacesuit that will allow you take an extra hit, and the ability to transform into a giant mechanical frog. If three of the same letters are collected the helper character in the bottom right of the screen will be activated during the boss battle. The helper character randomly fires projectiles towards the boss and rarely hits so it's best to avoid this feature. By holding down the B button our heroes will begin somersaulting. This makes you temporary invulnerable and allows you to jump higher than normal. If the B button is held down for too long our heroes will tire out and will be vulnerable for a second. There are a couple places in the game where climbing a wall is required. The controls here will frustrate most players as they must continuously press A to climb while holding the D-pad in the direction of the wall. Players must be in the process of climbing up a wall before they try jumping to another climbing wall or they will drop like a stone. At the end of a stage there will be a warp bubble. In order to progress to the next stage the player must jump up to the warp bubble and press up on the D-pad. Players should be prepared to beat the game in one sitting as the only way to pause the game is by holding down the start button. Otherwise the timer is always ticking.
Defeated bosses explode into happy faces
The graphics play to the Famicom's strengths with a bright and colorful cartoonish style. The sprites are large and animated well. Each of the seven levels has a distinctive theme. The Hot Pepper planet in particular (fire planet) has animated steam tiles that help give the impression of immense heat. Stage six, the Space Crypt (ice planet) is another standout that feels foreboding as it is filled with ghosts and broken down ships covered in ice. The enemies are diverse so you're not going to see the same set of enemies with a palette swap. The bosses in particular are large and in keeping with the cartoonish theme explode in to happy faces when defeated.
The steam or sweat tiles are a nice touch on the fire/hot pepper planet.
Sound is the weakest part of this game. The sound effects are decent and used effectively but the music is sub par. The frantic nature and high pitch of the outdoor tracks assault the ear and will have you reaching for the mute button. It's slightly better than the Back to the Future
(NES) Stage Theme. The music thankfully changes to a more subdued tempo when the player enters an enemy base, or boss fight. I only wish that the rest of the game music followed suit.
The space station has a couple sections where you can switch gravity. Ninja Jajamaru: Ginga Daisakusen
(Epic Galactic Battle) is a decent platformer that doesn't quite reach the same heights are the game it clones. It has issues with finicky controls such as climbing walls and the music will quickly have you reaching for the mute button. Despite it's flaws I recommend anyone who has an interested in platformers and can play Famicom games grab this game. It's also cheap as a cart only copy can usually be found for under $20.