Ninja JaJaMaru-kun: Japan-Only Romp With Ninja Stuff

Ninja JaJaMaru-kun for the NES
Whoo!

Here’s one of those Japan-only NES games that recently found a new home on the Nintendo Switch retro gaming catalogue.

It’s a weird old game! It launched in 1985 and was by Japanese developer Jaleco. So, let’s have a gander at it all.

The History of Ninja JaJaMaru-kun on the NES

Right, Ninja JaJaMaru-kun is a platform game. Nothing unusual about that, but it’s one of the more innovative from the era.

Its efforts to do something unique have to be noted, even if this wasn’t particularly successful in its execution.

Along with games such as Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom and Master Hu and the Drunkard Chu, this curious number expects more from its players.

Jaleco developed the idea from an arcade game in 1984 called Ninja Kid.

The idea is to take control of your ninja character, with the goal being to save Princess Sakura from a pirate overlord called Namazu Dayuu.

As JaJaMaru, you can run, jump, and throw objects at the baddies, all of whom are adapted from Japanese folklore (indicating why Ninja JaJaMaru-kun didn’t receive a western release).

And you have to scale up and around stages killing eight baddies. Once that’s done, you can move onto the next level. Huzzah!

The game was actually remade for the WonderSwan handheld console from Bandai in 1999. You can see how this went below.

So, yes, the WonderSwan has largely been forgotten since its release. And with a name like that, it’s no big surprise.

About as cool as calling your handheld console The Braying Walrus 64.

It seems the games were a hit in Japan, as a full collection title came out in 2019.

And, blow and behold, during our research we found Ninja JaJaMaru-kun shifted some one million copies in Japan. A hit!

Anyway, we played Ninja JaJaMaru-kun on our Switch for a fair while. It’s obviously aged very badly and isn’t anywhere near the peak of the NES catalogue.

However, for what it is (and being from 1985) you have to consider it on the value of its efforts over 35 years ago.

Jaleco did a good job doing something reasonable innovative and it’s all professionally managed. The graphics are pretty good, the music also decent.

These days the concept is incredibly simplistic, but back then the multi-layered levels would have had a wow factor.

But we feel the game is what it is. A relic of a distant era in gaming when this type of thing would have been pretty cutting edge.

Worth a look on your Switch for the curiosity element, otherwise it’s simply another slightly odd Japan-only game we’re only now catching up on in the west.

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