Had it not been for this 1001 list, I probably wouldn't have ever come across The Legend of the Mystical Ninja. I don't rate ninja's too highly, and when it comes to SNES titles beginning with 'The Legend of', there tends to only be one name mentioned, and it's not the Mystical Ninja.
Kid Ying and Dr Yang are having a bit of trouble with a ghost lady, and that trouble can only be solved by wandering around town looking for grey cats to turn your measly stick into a much more useful yo-yo, hurling it into the townsfolk until they drop enough coins for you to gamble them away on mini-games to distract you from having to find and deal with a ghost lady.
In other words,
After a short introduction cinematic to (barely) set the scene, we're dropped into the first zone of The Legend of the Mystical Ninja and I'm more or less immediately out of my depth. Discovering the simple controls is easy enough, but how to use them and for what purpose is a little trickier, and by that I mean 'just what is it that I'm meant to be doing here?'.
Zones are split into two sections, a sort of town or hub full of enemies to fight and shops and distractions to occupy yourself with before you commit to a second section that is a straight up side scrolling platformer that leads to boss fights and story progression.
You essentially build yourself up for a few screens, then put all those upgrades to use in the main dungeon, if you will. It sounds simple when you know what you're supposed to be doing, doesn't it?
I was a bit 'headless chicken' in my first few attempts, and I wasn't entirely sure that I'd stick around with it for too long.
But for all my ignorance, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is awesome. The graphics are superb, with animations that look like something out of a cartoon, the character expressions exaggerated and stylised to give the game its own look.
The backgrounds are equally detailed, giving the town sections so much life that you could easily imagine these people going about their daily lives without you. There are enough shops and distractions to satisfy everyone.
You can buy extra weapons and armour, or make tonnes of money in a lottery, only to lose it all through gambling, then sit down to play an entire level of Gradius, all before you even bother getting into the story of this ghost lady.
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is jam-packed with stuff to do, and that stuff looks excellent and is accompanied by one hell of a soundtrack. It's a sight to behold.
Unfortunately, it's a sight I've had to behold on YouTube because I suck at it. Movement is a tiny bit slower than I sometimes expect, and with that comes ill-timed attacks and with that comes enemies getting hits on me. That isn't so bad - you can take a few hits - but one mistake opens you up for another and you get sloppier still and before you know it, you're dead. In town. Before the dangerous part of the zones have even begun.
But it's fantastic. It's bright and cheery and humourous. I can't tell you how many times I've hit a fisherman, only to be slapped in the face by the fish that he dropped, forgetting that it too is an enemy that is dangerous to the touch, and not a weird item that I can make use of.
It requires a fair bit of investment in order to make your way through it, but The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is clearly something to look at, and definitely something to play.
In multiplayer, one player can jump onto the other and can make attacks from their backs. This means one player can worry about platforming and making precise jumps while the other player fends off the enemy.
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, developed by Konami, first released in 1991.
Version played: SNES, 1992, via emulation.
Version watched: SNES, 1992 (NintendoComplete)