Ninja Jajamaru: The Great Yokai Battle + Hell (PS4)- Review

Thanks to ININ Games for the review code

Title Ninja Jajamaru: The Great Yokai Battle + Hell
System: PS4
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 02/21/2023


The final bit of the recent Jajamaru Collection, this particular game was the centerpiece of the Japanese compilation, and recently got updated to include some new content. Thus, that version was brought over the west in the form of this release, despite the original game already being in english. Going back to basics, Jajamaru and his family all set out to defeat the evil Yokai bosses across three worlds! Not much of a plot here, and it goes with a similar focus to the original Famicom entry.


Being made as a tribute to the five Jajamaru titles in the 2019 Jajamaru Collection, this includes a bunch of assets from across the series, with the biggest focus coming from the first Ninja Jajamaru-Kun game and Ninja Jajamaru’s Big Adventure, as most of the sprites come straight from that.

Yet even with all these vintage sprites, there’s a lot new here too, plus a bunch of new color swaps and other variations that are repurposed remarkably well: old stage backgrounds are used for the levels in this game, and a bunch of songs from the five games have been given insanely good remixes in a variety of genres, with the option to toggle to the original songs for good measure. I was especially joyful to see the amazing final act theme from Jajamaru Golden Castle be the Special Stage song, and gain a rad remix to boot! Even with reused assets, they’ve all been lovingly presented in HD and given a ton of care, with a bunch of Jajamaru and even some Jaleco references in general popping up.

Also here as an interesting feature is the entirely of the Gallery from the Japanese Jajamaru Collection, with sections unlocked via accumulated coins like they were in that collection, only now the gallery is available on the title screen. This is the robust assortment of box art and manual scans I lamented the western retro collection lacking, but I am very pleased to see it did make it in after all. Of course, since this is part of a game from the 2019 set, assets from the GB and SNES games have no presence here whatsoever.


In the original Jajamaru game, the objective of each stage was to beat every enemy and collect their spirit. Here in Great Yokai Battle, that’s the very same objective, but with a lot of modernizations and tons of new stuff to make the experience much, much more engaging than the original. Now with the option of choosing between one of several characters, including multicolored members of the Jaja family, each character has their own health, attack points, and special techniques to take advantage of, and the overall gameplay feels way smoother than TOSE’s choppy effort, with tighter jumps and precise control across the board.

Thus, while the main objective is the same, the means of doing so is a lot more streamlined, and the stages vary in design, pulling assets from the first two famicom games as you go through the three main worlds. While Red Jajamaru uses the same usual attack and jump controls as his FC counterpart, and you can do a decent job at taking out enemies that way, it’ll quickly become apparent that Great Yokai Battle is much, much crazier and frantic than the original title, since enemies in a stage will continually spawn until they’re exhausted, and some levels can throw pretty nasty surprises, from giant enemies with more health to tougher ones that deal more damage.

Since everything has a health bar now (and not the one hit deaths of the past), enemies take more hits to defeat, but so do you, and honestly the enemies never really felt like sponges despite what such a system may imply. Heck, even the occasional boss fight (taking place right after the end of certain levels, being very akin to Big Adventure’s duels) can be finished off fairly quickly, especially if you bring the right character for the situation, since a few have the means to shoot in multiple directions or with multi-hit attacks, causing some bosses to go to pieces like tissue paper.

Collecting yellow gems dropped by enemies will cause them to be converted into jalacoins at the end of a stage, which accumulates into a grand total that unlocks a wide variety of things over the course of your adventure, most of them being the other playable characters in this game, such as the rest of Jajamaru’s family, an assortment of enemies, misc characters, and even former DLC-only character Mikado-chan, finally available in the base game with no hassle, a great move to have that particular fighter no longer bound to a DLC code from a ramen noodle bowl. All of these characters are pretty fun to experiment with, and with varying health values and skills some may be better for certain stages than others, though Purple Jajamaru ended up being the character I stuck with the most.

Also unlocked through the coin total, are other fun aspects of the game, from the aforementioned gallery containing old Jajamaru art, to Jaleco transformations that can kick in when you obtain a glowing Jaleco logo; what is initially just the City Connection car soon widens up into the option to become the Bases Loaded batter, Exerion’s ship, the Buta-san pig, and more depending on what color the Jaleco logo is when obtained, and special items like the logo and even the occasional magic scroll can really turn the tide of a tricky stage, especially if you find one while dealing with a giant enemy.

Part of the cool new additions to this particular version of the game come in the form of Hell stages, unlocked after gaining 10K Jajacoins. This kinda takes the sort of extreme difficulty found in the ranking stage (a very long stage stuffed with tough enemies meant for scoring purposes) and expands it new levels to enjoy, kidnapping the other Jajamaru members and leaving you with just Red and Blue. It is quite a grind to get to it though, even if you beat the main game, so I didn’t get to that aspect for this review, as the hell content is definitely meant for super players who’ve mastered the main game and unlocked everything.


In conclusion, I really enjoyed The Great Yokai Battle when it hit Switch back in 2019, and it still is worth a fun replay here on PS4. With the DLC character being part of the base game, the inclusion of the Gallery from the Japanese collection, and over a hundred in-game achievements to hunt for, this one game really is a complete package, and I’m very happy that it was finally brought to the west proper.

A great gameplay loop, a variety of fun characters to toy around with, awesome remixes, loving tributes to Jaleco as a whole, and all sorts of fun stages to replay and scorechase like the Hell content and the Ranking stage, The Great Yokai Battle + Hell is a definite must-own, and is easily the best entry in the entire Jajamaru franchise, both serving as a loving tribute to the five famicom games it pulls from, and being a fun way to modernize a very simple arcade-style game and add so, so much depth to it.

I give Ninja Jajamaru: The Great Yokai Battle + Hell an 8 out of 10.

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