Teaching kids to stand up against world pollution is
a noble cause. That's just what Zen: Intergalactic Ninja was designed to do.
Teaching them to beat down the people responsible with a staff is something else entirely.
Obviously borrowing quite a bit from the Ninja Turtle
Game Boy titles, this simple yet enjoyable platformer is worth playing through once, it's
just not a classic worth running through multiple times. Level designs are fair, though
everyone at Konami should realize that mixing disappearing platforms with raw sewage that
stops a jump in process is not a good idea. Most enemies take a few hits to go down, and
the lack of combos lessens any feeling of impact.
Zen's only other power is his ability to fire off a charged shot, useful for bosses that
feature overly simplistic patterns. Bonus stages are included, including a surfing stage
to rescue birds stuck in an oil spill (though how running them over in a surfboard is
saving them is never explained). Stages can be picked in any order, though there's no
incentive to do so like in the Mega Man titles. You'll gain nothing extra by
performing them in a specified pattern. It just adds a little feeling of customization to
what it is a basic platform title.
Though there's not much to the hardware, Zen suffers from slowdown only in short bursts, a
surprise given the size of the sprites. Flicker is notably absent. This all happens while
a decent, if unspectacular soundtrack blares in the background, covering the generic sound
effects. It's forgettable, though it's easy to take notice during play.
If you need a reason to get through another Game Boy platformer, especially one as generic
as Zen, you can look forward to the challenge. There's only a small fight from
enemies, and Zen can take an awful lot of punishment, but some of the platforming segments
are brutal. It may seem a bit methodical at first. It's a matter of patience to get to a
point where it's going to hook you. If you're a fan of the Ninja Turtle titles,
then this is an obvious next choice.