Thursday, June 2, 2011
The Ninja Warriors (TG-16)
Ninja Warriors surprised me this past week. I wanted to play Ninja Gaiden, but got tired of the terrible TG-16 version. I saw Ninja Warriors--I couldn't remember playing it. The simple game design, great music and cool artwork impressed me at first. After spending a few more hours, it was obvious this is game is a classic.
In 1988 Ninja Warriors hit the street as a triple-monitor arcade game. All the usual C64/Amigo/ZXSpectrum computers got their port, as well as, in 1989, the TurboGrafx-16. But only in Japan. Information on this import title has been extremely hard to come by. Hardcore Gaming 101 looks at the entire series, but doesn't mention much about our close friend, the TG16.
Ninja Warriors feels old. It's not as fancy as Streets of Rage or Final Fight... but it's more balanced. Those games were designed to eat quarters (as I assume the arcade version of Ninja Warriors does as well), but not this port. It's designed to offer challenge and replayability. Enemies spawn in predictable patterns, adding the possibility for slight memorization, which is nice in the small doses presented.
In standard beat-'em-up style, the developers manage to achieve diversity using palette and weapon swaps. The regular army dude will start doing jump kicks in the later levels, and surprises like this keep the game interesting.
The game has some cool effects: your hair is animated nicely. Cool blood. Your body can be exposed as a robot as you take damage (a la Terminator). You have 2 characters to choose from and can customize your color, difficulty, and time. You can jump, flip, throw shuriken (limited to around 30 per level) or slash with kunai (ninja knives).
I can't even find the manual, an FAQ, or even many reviews of this game. If anyone knows where I can find a .pdf of the manual, I can upload jpgs of it or something.
But like I said, Ninja Warriors feels old, and I like it. They just don't make games this difficult and clunky anymore, and it's a shame. To be honest, they only made games like this for a few years in history (Altered Beast comes to mind). I appreciate games like these because all the new beat-em-ups strive to be smooth and isometric--basically just a better version of Double Dragon. Ninja Warriors, even if it's unintentional, is different, and that's good.
Ninja Warriors proves that as long as a game is challenging and provides incentive to play (this is achieved through music and graphics), then gamers will want to play it. Don't bore me to death with your 12-minute cutscene and 2-hour newbie area: just release Ninja Warriors on the Virtual Console and give the rest of the world this classic!
Just check out the song in the video!