The quirky story highlights Goemon's quest to stop the evil Bismaru, who has stolen Wise Man's resurrection machine. Goemon and his friends must journey through five worlds to battle the revived Dochuki, prince of the underworld, and destroy the captured device. Each world is designed with Japanese styles and themes, and Goemon's Great Adventure continues the series' tradition of offbeat, surreal humor.
The game was received well, selling over 160,000 copies worldwide. Reminiscent of older, 16-bitgames, the side-scrolling system was lauded by reviewers, who also praised the two-player cooperative mode. The game's vibrant graphics and musical score earned high marks as well. Reviewers have considered it the best side-scroller for the Nintendo 64.
Goemon's Great Adventure is a side scrolling platform game in which players navigate stages. Gameplay in Great Adventure more closely resembles that of the Ganbare Goemon series' Super Famicom entries, and abandons the free-roaming style of Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. Although movement is restricted along a two-dimensional plane, the stages are rendered in three dimensions and frequently wind along the z coordinate—earning the game a 2.5D status similar to Yoshi's Story, Klonoa: Door To Phantomile and the Super Smash Bros. series. The game begins on a world map upon which several circles are placed indicating stages. Players must complete certain stages to open up paths to others, and each world map generally features one town and one dungeon. Completing a dungeon allows travel to a new world map, but the player must collect several entry passes to gain access to these structures. Passes are rewarded for completing stages and performing tasks for non-player characters in cities. Though the game is linear like its 16-bit predecessors, certain non-linear elements exist—such as a secret village and multiple paths through a world map.
Goemon's Great Adventure takes place in a fantastical version of Edo period Japan, featuring forests, mountains, dwellings, and underworlds designed with Japanese themes and a touch of science fiction.
Individual stages are populated by monsters, obstacles, items (such as Ryō currency or dumplings), and occasionally bosses, who are stronger than most enemies. Players can run, jump, attack with weapons, and use various special abilities to reach the end of levels and gain entry passes. Four characters with three uniforms are available for play, including Goemon, Ebisumaru, Sasuke, and Yae. Characters can be changed in cities or in stages through portals to an interdimensional teahouse.
Two players can play the game simultaneously, though they must both be visible on screen—one player cannot advance if the other runs in a different direction. In each stage, a bar at the bottom of the screen displays information concerning character health, weapon equipped, lives remaining, and time of day. If a character is touched or attacked by a monster, a health bar is reduced from a total of three. If all bars disappear, the player loses a life and must restart the stage. The game ends if all lives are lost, at which point it reverts to the beginning or the last point at which the player saved his or her progress with a Controller pak. Defeated monsters sometimes leave behind dumplings and Maneki Neko—the former replenishes health, and the latter upgrades weapons up to two levels above starting strength.
Goemon's Great Adventure also features a system of day and night. Every two to three minutes, a meter in the information bar will slowly turn to evening or morning; the sky in a stage's background will similarly emulate the hues of a sunset or a sunrise. At night, more powerful and swift enemies challenge players.
However, they produce two Ryō coins rather than one when killed. Different non-playable characters can be found at night in towns as well. Within these cities, players can purchase armor (represented by three blue bars), sleep in inns and eat in restaurants to recover strength, and perform miniature quests for entry passes. For example, the character Sasuke must help a man in Spook Village set off fireworks for a festival. Scripted events relating to the game's storyline also take place in dwellings, and occur elsewhere before characters assault dungeons or after these special stages have been completed. The successful infiltration of a dungeon often leads to a battle between three giant mecha robots. These conflicts pitch the player, controlling the robots Impact and Lady Impact, against a villain and his or her robot of choice.
From the perspective of a cockpit behind Impact's eyes, players can punch, kick, grab, or fire nasal and beam weaponry at an enemy robot. Measures of health, enemy health, and ammunition are displayed in the cockpit. If the player's robot runs out of health, the game restarts at the beginning of the battle. To avoid this scenario, players can throw a baton to the other friendly robot; if it hits its mark, player perspective changes to the new robot who has his or her own health count. In two-player mode, one player waits while the other fights, and comes into play if the baton is passed. The penultimate conflict in the game is an Impact battle, and after winning a final fight in the normal side-scrolling mode the player can witness the ending of the game.