MR. GOEMON / Konami / Arcade
 
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Konami's Goemon character would eventually evolve into a semi-modern "punk kid" archetype surrounded by a cast of weirdos, but in this very first entry they seem to be paying tribute to the historical figure, a Robin Hood-like thief who robs from the other robbers and gives to the poor by hucking those huge coins at their houses at like 3 A.M. Also fights pot-bellied demons who throw lightning on occasion.
 


So this is a platformer, but it's mechanically an oddball one. Players of the later Mystical Ninja-era games won't be surprised to see that Goemon whacks enemies with an oversized tobacco pipe, but the swing timing here is somewhat finicky. Combine that with nimble enemies who rush in suddenly, like to jump over your head, and will back off quickly only to rush you again. The really sure way to put them down is to grab various loose objects -- stuff that would go on to be staple items of the later games like the cat statutes -- and throw them. You can also hop on their heads to eliminate them, though that's easier said than done.
 


A sudden difficulty spike in the second level is a major barrier to enjoyment here, combined with the "no continues whatsoever" old-school design. Lose your three lives and it's all the way back to level one, which starts out seeming overly easy as enemies can't kill you unless you fail to wiggle them off when they grab hold of you. It jags hard in the second level, though, when they get projectiles and throw them quite liberally.
 


Certainly has some charm, particularly if you're into the kabuki / noh style it's referencing, but it's really kind of a pain in the butt to actually play.
 
 
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