Welcome to Super Smash Step-Brothers, Goemonth edition. Today we will be discussing the history, opportunities, and skills of the pipe-wielding Mystical Ninja, Goemon. So enough with the introductions, let us begin!
Goemon is a cartoony rendition of the legendary thief of feudal Japan, Goemon Ishkawa, who premiered in Konami’s arcade game Mr.Goemon. From there, he would develop into his own persona (more like the picture above), as well as his own wacky rendition of ancient Japan. Goemon became well-known in Japan, and was a gaming icon, on par with Mario or Megaman back in the early days of the Famicom and Super Famicom. While his history is known little here in the states, you can read up on some of his gaming history here, as well as in the previous post of Big in Japan: Ganbare Goemon.
As a character, Goemon has seen more change in his portrayal than any of his peers from the early days of gaming. His early depictions were based heavily on the legend and artwork of the period he was from. As more games were made, however, he changed from a common thief, to a more kind-hearted thief, to a misunderstood hero. His appearance changed from a traditional Japanese-style painting, to something a little more Famicom friendly, to eventually the happy, blue-haired punk that would stick with him during the height of his success.
His appearance wasn’t the only thing that changed. Similar to Mario, Goemon was a jack-of-all-trades, being in adventure beat ’em ups, platformers, adventure puzzle-games, turn-based rpgs, and other various game styles. Unlike Mario, most of these are part of his core series, and significant to his development. Even among his American releases, he has dabbled in roleplaying action, and side-scrolling platforming.
As he developed into the misunderstood hero of Edo, Goemon’s demeanor changed. Although not completely above stealing occasionally, he sought out those that wanted to do harm to his home and country — although most of the time his work went unappreciated by the masses. The best illustration of this being in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. In this game, Edo Castle is changed into a theater and sound-stage for the villains to sing, dance, and do with as they please. Princess Yuki implores Goemon to undo the spell on the castle. Goemon gathers his crew and sets out to do just that, only for the people of Edo to turn on him because they were enjoying the villain’s shows.
This also illustrates the kind of mood the games had going for them. The Goemon games never took themselves terribly seriously, and the more mad something could be, the more likely it was to be included. The American releases were full of puns and pop-culture references — things that were likely common in the original language as well. Goemon even had his own giant robot he could summon via a conch-shell, which would then progress into Power Ranger’s style Megazord battles. The series tried hard to keep one hand on the controller, and the other on the player’s funny-bone .
This, in and of itself, is the primary reason Goemon would be a perfect addition to the Smash Brothers roster. Super Smash Brothers has never been a series that took it’s ideas seriously — in a game where a giant monkey fights a bald man with a bunch of plant creature pets who fights a anthropomorphic wolf who fights a swash-bulking army general, it’s hard to argue realism to any degree. Goemon fits this by having a great sense of humor, as well as a crazy setting and cast of supporting characters to include.
Moving to Goemon himself, it could be argued that he does not present much in terms of possible abilities. Despite having more diverse library than most, he actually manages to make do most of the time with his trusty pipe, which he uses to bash enemies upside their heads. However, he also does have the chain pipe — originally an upgraded version of the pipe, it was modified in later games to allow him to latch onto star blocks. He also has an alternate form that changes his hair gold and skin red. While in this form, Goemon deals twice as much damage, but also takes damage faster as well. Another odd ability for Goemon is the ability to throw Ryo, or gold currency at his enemies. This can be charged into a flaming version for greater effect. Lastly, of course there’s the ability to use his conch-shell to summon Impact, which would likely be reserved for Final Smash status. While this doesn’t totally spell out his moveset right away, it’s far more likely a designer would appreciate the ability to fill in gaps, rather than trying to cram as much as they could into a single character.
But that brings us to some of the dissenting arguments against Goemon, which are actually not as difficult as some of the others we’ve seen previously. An argument that could be raised is that Goemon’s international fame is not very high; however, that point is moot since Marth, Roy, and Lucas all made it into previous Smash Brothers games without having even released in America at the time. It could also be argued that he is simply too Japanese to fit in with the rest of the cast; however, I would argue that for a Japanese game made by Japanese staff for a Japanese company, the lack of traditional Japanese style characters and stages is mind boggling. I’m sure, if not the players, the programmers and designers would find the influence that Goemon brings a pleasant change of pace.
However, there is one reasonable argument to be had against Goemon, and unfortunately it’s one we’ve covered at least once before. Goemon is property of Konami, the same company that owns Solid Snake. The reason Snake was included in Brawl was because Hideo Kojima specifically requested it, so it’s unknown if this was a deal cut exclusively with Kojima or with Konami as a whole. This puts Goemon in a similar boat as Knuckles or Bayonetta however, in that we still don’t know how many characters per company will make an appearance. If Snake returns, Goemon has a chance as a dark horse secondary representative, but little else. Without Snake or Konami rejoining the fray, Goemon’s chances look bleak.
It also isn’t helping that Goemon has not been particularly busy in the past decade. His last console title launched in 2005, and while he still lives on in slot machines, it’s hardly a triumphant return. Goemon has all but been put out to pasture with the Metal Gear series becoming Konami’s forefront series, and most likely entry to any crossover ideas that cross their desk.
Of the characters I’ve covered so far, however, this is the first that I am reluctantly optimistic on. However, unless there is some piece of information that really changes the field, Goemon’s chances still meander in the ‘unlikely’ territory.
Probability Forecast: Unreasonable
Goemon’s chances aren’t bad if the game includes more classic gaming characters, or if Snake is shelved as a Konami representative. His chances weaken severely, however, if this isn’t the case. Still, I would be willing to put the cost of a 3DS against his inclusion, since he has not been relevant to Konami and video games in general for sometime.
Agree? Disagree? Have more SSSB suggestions? post them in the comments below.