Fans of Nintendo might be acquainted with Good-Feel, a Japanese developer that partnered with the Big N to create games such as Wario Land: Shake It!, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and Yoshi’s Woolly and Crafted Worlds. Despite its collaboration with Nintendo, Good Feel remains an independent studio and occasionally releases new games with its own IP. Towards the end of November 2023, the studio launched Otogi Katsugeki Mameda no Bakeru: Oracle Saitarou no Sainan!!, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
Drawing heavy influence from the Ganbare Goemon games (Etsunobu Ebisu worked at Konami before establishing Good-Feel in 2005 and was a major figure behind the Mystical Ninja series), this new release blends 3D platforming with some light beat-’em-up elements for a remarkably enjoyable experience. The only caveat is that it’s only available in Japan at the moment. Nevertheless, this platformer is definitely worth a try.
The plot of Mameda no Bakeru is unknown as it is primarily presented through a series of nicely animated, comic book-style cutscenes. Although the story may be incomprehensible to non-Japanese speakers, the art is still visually appealing. Additionally, players have the option to skip the cutscenes and jump right into the action.
Gameplay consists of a wide linear 3D platformer, similar to Super Mario 3D Land or Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Levels are accessed consecutively on the world map and each one requires the player to find and break three rainbow lamps in order to unlock the end-of-level drum. These lamps are usually prominently placed along the path, making clearing a stage a straightforward endeavor.
Along the way, players will encounter a variety of enemies and obstacles, giving rise to the beat-‘em-up elements. The protagonist has two drumsticks to defeat his foes, and combat is surprisingly agile. Players have a dodge roll and a block at their disposal, with the latter providing a parry that nullifies all damage and stuns the attacker. Combat encounters are usually brief, and most foes are defeated in one or two hits, adding a satisfying Dynasty Warriors-esque feeling to the game.
To prevent combat from becoming monotonous, players are provided with a series of transformations as they defeat bosses, each powering up the protagonist in combat while altering his moveset. The game also features an item shop offering consumables for health and damage output, making it a breeze to rush through each stage.
Each stage also contains collectibles and features levels centered around new minigames, adding variety to the gameplay. Visually, the game adheres to a sharp and colorful art style, making every stage visually appealing. However, the game’s consistent performance takes a hit due to these visuals, with a fluctuating frame rate around the 30fps mark.
Despite being entirely in Japanese, Mameda no Bakeru is a playable experience for English-speaking players. Although the lack of English language support may seem daunting, it is still an enjoyable game overall. The game serves as a callback to a genre that doesn’t receive much representation these days and is worth importing if you’re willing to trawl through a bit of Japanese.
Mameda no Bakeru is a delightful and satisfying linear 3D platformer that pays homage to a genre that is often overlooked. Despite its ease and performance issues, the game’s variety, snappy combat, collectibles, and stunning art style make it an adventure worth experiencing. If you’re open to importing the game and don’t mind navigating through Japanese, we recommend giving this game a try.