Ninja Warriors


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

Though you wouldn't know it from the title, "Ninja Warriors" is a sequel. Originally released by Tatio, the expansive arcade screen (up to three linked together) made the game a remarkable sight compared to the machine next to it. It was truly under appreciated for its time so the sequel only appeared on the SNES.

Though on the surface it looks like little has changed, there are a number of tweaks and enhancements. Gone is the ability to throw shurikens and forget about climbing steps. The game takes place entirely on a single flat plane. There's no additional movement other than left to right. There's no platforming either.

It doesn't take long to figure out the game is seriously lacking depth. That's ok. The core mechanics are strong enough to carry it through the eight stages. Combos in the classic beat-em-up vein are now the key piece to the player's repertoire. Those will get you through the earlier stages, but later on, you'll be required to mix things up as more enemies are introduced.

You'll need to work around foes that block, can only be hit from behind, and catch some of the speedier ones. If your combos are not working, you can grab someone and toss them into a pile, taking everyone down in the process. In fact, the somewhat ridiculous final battle requires this move. It's easy to make yourself look powerful without much work, especially if you get the hang of the jumping maneuvers. You also have a special attack that slowly charges as you make your way through the crowds. Get knocked down however, and it restarts.

There are some sporadic ideas that never seem to be fleshed out. For instance, you can break a few background objects by tossing an enemy to the proper spot, but there are only a few instances where this is possible. There are also objects scattered through the various stages that can be picked up and thrown. These are also included sparingly and there's little variety.

Each sprite is large and high on detail. The three main robotic ninjas are also well animated. Missing from the original is the damage that appeared as health dwindles. They save everything for a large explosive death when the meter is drained. Opponents are relatively flat with only a few frames of animation to go on. The backgrounds are the biggest offender though, managing to be flat, boring, and uninteresting at the same time. If that saved the game from any flicker or slowdown, then maybe it was worth it.

There's some great music to brawl to in the background. It uses the system's capabilities fine, but there's a certain sameness to each track. You'll be hard pressed to differentiate between the theme for the first and final stages. A few of the boss fights are about the only tracks worth mentioning individually. The death of each enemy is accompanied by a generic scream and by the end, you'll never want to hear them again.

It's easy to be hard on the game since it's so simple. It doesn't really seem like a sequel either, more of a remake with new features. Still, if the gameplay is engaging, none of that really matters. "Ninja Warriors" is a well worth tracking down if you enjoy some mindless action and you can ignore some of the small flaws. You won't need to think much, which makes it a great stress reliever and time killer. What more do you need?


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Last updated: Sunday, May 01, 2005 08:59 AM