Ninja Gaiden


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

Quick quiz:

Ninja Gaiden was originally a Double Dragon styled beat-em-up: True or false?

False? Ha! How little you know! Oh, got it right? Well, you cheated and looked at the header I'm sure. Anyway, the fans of the arcade game were probably plenty surprised when they popped Ninja Gaiden into their NES' all those years back. They were probably even more surprised to find that the game actually played better. Rather surprisingly, the only translation of the actual first game of the series resides here on the ill-fated Lynx. Even more surprising, it's one of the better games on the console.

Ninja Gaiden puts you in control of the iconic Ryu Hayabusa. You'll be taking on a slew of baddies, but most are just guys wearing hockey masks and red shirts. You walk right, beat up people with some nifty ninja moves, and continue on. Knocking an enemy into various objects in the playing field will usually yield a power-up. Occasionally, you'll run into a boss for a slightly larger scale battle. It's been done a million times before, but this is one of the firsts.

The biggest positive to this port is that it's actually possible to beat. The arcade game was relentless in sapping money from your pocket's, most of the time rather unfairly. You'll occasionally find a rough spot here, but these are almost always in the later levels. Also a change from the arcade is your walking. Fighting in the arcade was always an issue since you automatically walked to the right. Here your in full control. In most aspects, this port is better than the full sized $500+ arcade game.

This is quite a colorful game, especially in the backgrounds. Everything animates nicely, mimicking the arcade game almost flawlessly. Flicker is an occasional issue, but it's rare and hardly ever interferes with the gameplay. Newly designed humorous between level cinemas will probably put a small smile on your face and the classic continue scene remains intact. The biggest problem with the otherwise superb graphics is that the players character gets easily lost in crowds of opponents and your only hope is to jam on the buttons to find a way out.

Gaiden's soundtrack on the NES is the stuff legends are made of. Here, it's completely changed to follow the style of the arcade game. It's by no means a bad thing since the excellent tunes keep the battles lively (especially stage two's boss theme), but they loop constantly and do grate on your nerves after awhile. They can be turned off if it gets too bad. The sound effects are standard Lynx fare with the sound of bodies falling to the ground being a bit out of place.

Complaints are few and far between, but there are some minor annoyances. First, there are some segments of the game that require you to jump up onto bars to make it across chasms. To latch on, you need to hit "option 1" at the right time. Not only should this button never be used for action gameplay, but there is no logical reason why he simply can't just grab it without a button press. Also, though the arcade game suffered in this respect as well, the number of enemies is extremely small though it's actually worse here. Not counting bosses, you can count the variety on one hand. There are hardly even any palette swaps! Also, a level has been excised making this one a tad short.

Still, next to Kung Food and Double Dragon, Ninja Gaiden reigns supreme on the Lynx. If your a big fan of the arcade game, this will be your only way of experiencing it at home. Be thankful it turned out like it did (before calling me an idiot, I know nothing about imports so if there is some obscure console with another port of this game, sue me*). This is a must own game for people with the great portable and by far the best beat-em-up on the console.

*A note from the authors lawyer: Please don't sue him. The statement was only used to enhance an already superb review and make it more enjoyable. Thank you for your time.


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Last updated: Sunday, June 13, 2004 08:22 AM