Ninjas? Dracula? Wolfman? Medusa? All in one game???

- Maru's Mission [Action Game] -

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U.S. Game Box Front

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Oira Jajamaru! Sekai Daibouken... The Japanese Version Of Maru's Mission.

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This Is A Japanese Jajamaru Game For The NES. While Some May Think So, It Isn't The Same As "Ninja Kun" Which Is Also From Jaleco.

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This is A 3D Jajamaru Game For Sega Saturn (And Playstation) By The Name Of "Kin Ninja Jajamaru Kun ~Onigiri Ninpou Chou~". The Game Is Said To Be Very Rare.

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Jajamaru's Look For His DS Debut.

-General Information-
Region(s): U.S.Japan
Year: 1991 (U.S.), 1990 (JPN)
Publisher: Jaleco
Developer(s) and Others: Jaleco
# of Players: 1
# of Saves: none
Fan Translated: No
Other Info: Also known as "Oira Jajamaru! Sekai Daibouken" or "Hey Jajamaru! Worldwide Adventure". There are a number of Jajamaru games, but this is the only one that was released in North America. 3D Sega Saturn Jajamaru image is found at Satakore in the link here. Maru's Mission has no credits.
Quick Game Overview: Available HERE.

Sometime ago, Bel Cain The Eternal discussed a Super Famicom title by the name of "Super Ninja Kun". The game was published and developed by Jaleco and it starred a ninja (obviously) that ran around to save a princess named Momoko. In actuality, Jaleco loves ninjas more than most realize. There existed another series of games that starred a ninja and it was known as "Ninja Jajamaru Kun". Ninja Kun and Ninja Jajamaru Kun are different games, though both share a couple of ideas. While Ninja Kun was a fairly popular game, Ninja Jajamaru Kun is clearly the more popular game. Both series were released on numerous platforms.

Even in more recent times, the game manages to find its way to the Nintendo DS and the game is a classic in Japan. What does any of this have to do with Maru's Mission? Well..."Maru" is actually the shortened name of "Jajamaru" and Maru's Mission is actually a Jajamaru title in disguise! The story is very lame and somewhat generic, but it deals with a ninja named Maru who must rescue his girlfriend, Cori, from the clutches of the evil Muramasa. The story isn't really explained in any depth, but there you have it.

The game looks very reminiscent of old Game Boy games. Maru is a little super deformed ninja who battles a bunch of tiny super deformed demons. The backdrops are decent enough, but the animation isn't that good. Speaking of backdrops, the game reuses backgrounds and the game itself isn't even long! There are underwater levels that look the same which is a bit understandable (though still not good). Most bosses just float around the screen with little to no animation whatsoever trying to touch you and they may release some generic attack every now and then. The enemies themselves look okay, though they aren't anything you haven't seen before. As a whole, the game looks pretty average and nothing should seem out of the norm. The sound fails to impress as well. The tunes are redundant and can get old pretty fast. The variety is weak and the style is unimpressive as far as Jaleco is concerned. The sound effects only get by and don't do much to make the game more enjoyable.

The game didn't grab me with its sights and sounds, and to my dismay, the action was dry as well. You will travel across America, Romania, Greece, Egypt, Brazil, and Japan...each area has two stages plus the occasional underwater levels which adds up to 15. Your hero has access to a number of power-ups which includes bombs, a homing shot, an attack consisting of several images of Maru, invincibility, a full screen shockwave, a wave of fireballs, speed up, a warp power, and such things. Maru also has the ability to walk on the ceiling in a few stages (Metal Storm anyone?).

After beating certain mini-bosses, you will be given a plot related item that you need to defeat the main boss and the item can be used with the select button. You shoot a harpoon gun when you are underwater and must kill sharks to return to the land stages. The game only gives you one life, and if you fall in a pit too many times, you will get game over. It doesn't matter how much life you have either. The game gives you no continues and if you didn't know any better, you would think the game is difficult based on the things I just told you...well, you'd be surprised to say the least.

The problem with Maru's Mission is that it is so generic and ridiculously easy. Just about any enemy you defeat rewards you with life or some special power. There is a number on the bottom right of the screen that shows how much life you have and you gain five hit points for each "soul" you collect. Souls fly out of defeated enemies and you must jump and collect them before they float away. Most enemy attacks are way too weak and you can easily fill your hit points up to 999 and just fire away at bosses until they die within ten seconds. If you fire from a distance, you won't be able to hit them as much, but if you stay close to them, you can fire off shots rapidly. Kill, grab soul, kill, grab soul...*yawn*...

The game doesn't even try to challenge you either. You will meet a Sphinx as the mini-boss of one of the stages and you will be challenged to answer a question. If you answer it wrong, you are not punished in ANY way. As a test, I purposely got the question wrong more than ten times...which is impossible since there are four choices and you will only be wrong three times if you are using the process of elimination. Falling in a pit is also pretty difficult unless you are asking to lose and you still don't lose automatically if you fall in. The power-ups are actually pretty cool, but the game becomes even easier than it already is if you use them. It's kinda cool that you get a mirror to fight Medusa and reflect her attacks back at her, but the other boss weapons aren't really cool or unique. Basically, you just go from stage to stage killing stuff and becoming immortal and while Maru definitely has numerous skills, they would have probably been nice in one of his other games. Why play a game if you can't die unless you do it on purpose?

In conclusion, Maru's Mission is just plain average and the fun factor takes a hit due to how ridiculously easy the game is. Jaleco didn't do a very good job at showing me how cool the Jajamaru games are and it's no wonder the game did so poorly in North America. Like several times in the past and in the present, Maru's Mission is an example of U.S. gamers receiving some of the worst games that Japan might have for an otherwise decent series. I love ninjas and I know many people do...let's just face it; Ninjas are cool. Therefore, they should have at least made the main character a ninja on the box and cart. Maru (or Jajamaru) IS a ninja, so why such lousy packaging? I'll never understand why some companies do what they do...Ah well, too late now. While Jaleco thrives off of the huge success of their Suchi-Pai games (see this site here to see just HOW warned that some things are for ages 18 or older), they still do like their little ninja friend. Maru's Mission is relatively uncommon as far as Game Boy titles go, so if you are a collector, you might want to look into MM. Otherwise, You are better off playing other action titles for the Game Boy.

- Written by Vyse the determined -

Game Screenshots

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