Last Updated on October 8, 2023
ININ Games have finally localised some of Jaleco’s beloved JRPGs for western audiences. Ninja JaJaMaru: The Lost RPGs includes the two classic NES titles Ninja JajaMaru: The Ninja Skill Book (1989) and Ninja JajaMaru: The Legend of the Golden Castle (1990) now translated into English.
The collection which released on 21st February 2023 introduces two games from the hit Jaleco series that were never playable in the west until now. In both games you play as the ninja JaJaMaru who is tasked with saving the land and fighting many different foes on his journey.
Ninja JaJaMaru: The Ninja Skill Book
This RPG relies on a turn-based combat system. As you traverse around the overworld in top-down perspective you encounter Yokai such as Leeches, Bewitchers and surprisingly Stupid Dogs. There’s also more difficult foes which require higher experience, stats, and more resources to defeat. Frequent ambushes allow you to level up faster to prepare you to take on stronger enemies.
There are rest stops like inns and villages that allow you to save, rest, recover and purchase more supplies. It’s nice to have the option to sell items as well which is something I have not yet experienced myself in a retro RPG.
The quest becomes more interesting with the introduction of Sakura to the team. Both characters are able to fight and use Jutsu, however Sakura’s ability to “Love” allows stats to increase during battle. Despite this, any move made by the player or foe is based on chance. This made encounters feel more dynamic as you really don’t know if you’re attack will land as planned.
One amazing aspect in both games is the ability to use blessings from the game’s main menu which grant you limited HP, JP, Coins and other resources that are not always easy to obtain in-game. This title is certainly enjoyable for those who thrive from levelling up characters and managing combat strategies.
Ninja JaJaMaru: The Legend of the Golden Castle
With only a year’s difference of release from The Ninja Skill Book, The Legend of the Golden Castle boasts a whole new style of gameplay.
Still with a top-down perspective and the use of HP and JP, combat takes a more NES The Legend of Zelda path, where the enemies are visible in the overworld as opposed to transitioning into individual battle interfaces. Artwork in the beginning cutscene is much more detailed and provides some story and world-building. There are also various ‘dungeons’ to work through to obtain treasures and save endangered NPCs.
With the absence of experience or stats to level up, you’re only means of getting stronger is by obtaining more Jutsu spells, increasing HP and JP as well as a collating a selection of weapons like Shuriken and Bombs. There’s no time to think like the previous game, combat is face-to-face, with enemies charging at you, and bosses to work out weaknesses of during battle.
A new Jutsu is acquired after defeating a boss. My personal favourite one allows you to travel underground temporarily to avoid attacks and damage. You can purchase potions, elixirs and oil lamps from villages to help across your journey.
However, with the help of the trusty ‘Blessings’ option, there was no need to constantly backtrack. Call me a cheat, but it makes the experience of challenging retro RPGs a lot less frustrating! Players who love the gameplay of The Legend of Zelda or similar should definitely give this one a go.
In conclusion, Ninja JaJaMaru: The Lost RPGs for Nintendo Switch provides the adventure and RPG fix for retro gamers, with added bonuses to make play-throughs accessible to hardcore and casual gamers alike.
You can find Ninja JaJaMaru: The Lost RPGs Review (Nintendo Switch) as part of the Ninja JaJaMaru Collection, available in the ININ online store!
- Publisher: ININ Games
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam
- Platformed Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
- Released: 21/02/2023
Ninja JaJaMaru: The Lost RPGs Review: Ninja JaJaMaru: The Lost RPGs for Nintendo Switch provides the adventure and RPG fix for retro gamers, with added bonuses to make play-throughs accessible to hardcore and casual gamers alike. – bhavdeepksoor
I am a media and pop culture enthusiast and love Nintendo and indie games, particularly Zelda and Stardew Valley. When I’m not gaming you’ll find me writing, creating fanart, and playing music covers of my favourite games!