Developed By: Ratalaika Games Published By: ININ Games Categories: RPG Release Date: 02.21.23
Jaleco must have had a hit on their hands with JajaMaru-Kun. There’s even RPG spinoffs! Too bad they never came to the west…that is until now! We finally have The Ninja Skill Book and The Legend of the Golden Castle, now in English. Are these Lost RPGs hidden gems? Or better off lost? Sure.
Starting with The Ninja Skill Book. I’m kind of left mixed on this one. I absolutely love the look of the game. Cute or funny art for everything. I adore the monster sprites in fights. Unfortunately, everything else is standard. Bog standard. You’ve played Dragon Quest, right? Scratch that, you’ve played Dragon Quest 1, right? There we go, that’s more apt. This is the kind of “you need to select an option on the menu for every thing you do” game. Something RPGs have very much, even if turn based moved past. Then there’s the issue with random battles, something that is once again better left in the past. I don’t necessarily mind these, but they can get particularly egregious in older games such as this. It can almost feel overwhelming.
Not to mention, the battle music is soooooo bad. You’ll hear it a lot and it’s awful. It’s so twangy and shrill. I like a lot of music in the series too, so consider me disappointed. But at the very least, like I said, this game looks great. Love them late 80’s NES games and their sprites. That all said though, I’m not going to play this game much, at least without some help. At least you can play as Sakura again and choose which story to play.
The Legend of Golden Castle however. Hooo boy do I like this one. We have bit of a Zelda-like overhead action RPG. This is my kind of game. Ironically, everything I loved about the first game isn’t here. It looks “realistic” in cutscenes. But otherwise, I felt more at home with this.
Learn the chaotic patterns enemies have, make money, buy healing items Shuriken, or items like armor or lamps for light. There’s a bit of a flow to it. If you kill enough you’ll heal a little bit too. Once you get to and defeat one of the bosses, of which I think are a highlight, you’ll get a health increase as well as a Jutsu move and increase to that bar. Some defensive like a move to burrow you down, some offensive like a fireball.
All is not too well though. While I do prefer how this plays, levels all feel incredibly samey and maze like. The biggest difference is new enemies and background color.
So what’s new here? Well, the standard Ratalaika fixings. No concept art here unfortunately, go check out TGYB for that. There are cheats, like the occasional Ratalaika joint, but now we have Blessings! It’s just little pick me ups with heals, item refills, money, etc…it can very much streamline the experience. And depending on how you play these games, this is needed. I welcome this.
I wish these were just included with the other games period, but alas, that isn’t the case. I like half of this set, and I find it hard to recommend this on that. But if you’re a JajaMaru fan, you should try these. But that’s the case, just buy the physical edition.
Buy Now: $12.99 (also a part of a retail, physical edition from ININ games that includes The Great Yokai Battle +Hell)
*Game Download Code graciously provided for the purpose of review