Thursday, 6 October 2011

Ninja Gaiden (NES)

Guest poster ZXLink has already written a lot about the sequel Ninja Gaiden II for Super Adventures, but this is my first look at any of the original 2D Ninja Gaiden games.

Weirdly the game isn't even called Ninja Gaiden in Japan, it's called Ninja Ryūkenden (Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword). Maybe when they brought it over they liked the idea of a Japanese sounding title, but wanted something catchier that English speaking gamers could remember.

On the other hand Europe got stuck with the name Shadow Warriors, which is just boring.

Animated cutscenes, that's pretty rare for a NES game.

The pink ninja and the grey ninja face off against a full moon. Shockingly the one that wore dark colours at night is the one left standing.

The pink ninja's son, Ryu Hayabusa (of Dead or Alive fame), returns home to find a letter from his dad explaining that if he doesn't return from his life or death duel, then Ryu will have to complete a task for him.

Ryu must take the Dragon sword of the Hayabusa family and go find an archaeologist in America.

It was pretty responsible of his dad not to bring the sword to his life and death duel. If it were me I'd want every advantage I could get, but then I'm a rubbish ninja.

Ryu has no concept of subtlety, so he begins his search for the archaeologist by running down the street in broad daylight wearing purple ninja gear and carrying a katana. Well at least he's not wearing pink.

I barely make it across one screen's worth of pavement before I find someone trying to kill me. Some kind of biker I guess, and his identical friends.

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES)
Ninja Gaiden was also released on the SNES as part of Ninja Gaiden Trilogy. I was expecting bigger sprites and redrawn artwork, but the game looks pretty much the same to me, except for a few extra colours. The music seems the same too, but I prefer the original NES instruments.

Ninja Ryūkenden (PC Engine)
The PC Engine version has redone artwork, but it's hard to say if it looks any better. The city backdrop in particular looks terrible in motion.

The enemies explode when I hit them in all versions, so I'm just going to pretend they're all robots. From space. An invasion of alien androids completely unrelated to the crisis Ryu was sent to resolve, who just happened to pick the wrong day to invade America.

The guy threw a knife at me, so I jumped out of the way... and got stuck to a building. I can't go full Spider-Man and climb up the side, but this could still be useful for me.

Leaping gracefully from ledge to sign to ledge I'm able to jump to places otherwise beyond my reach. I didn't even have to let go of the jump button. There doesn't seem to be much point going up here, but it's nice to have options.

Is it my imagination, or does that sign say 'Coke' on the side? Also the doors have 'Robo' written all over them. That must be where all the robots are from, it all makes sense now.

Go Robo?

I hate it when games are inconsistent with their rules like this. That other sign I jumped on earlier looked identical to this, but when I try grabbing these signs I just jump right through them.

Finally I reach the bar!

Wait, what? Why the hell is Ryu going to a bar? I thought we came to America to meet an archaeologist.

Whoa, purple! How am I supposed to fight a boss in here, I can barely see the guy. Also that perspective they've used on the background makes Ryu look like he's barely the height of a bar stool.

Crap, I was sure I'd be able to somersault clean over his head without taking damage but I guess not. Well how the hell am I supposed to get past him when he pins me against the other wall then? I don't have health to waste here.

Oh, the wall! I can jump up the wall and leap off it right over him!

Actually no I can't. And losing the boss fight put me right back at the start of the game.

Still, I know what I'm doing now. I just need to reach the boss without losing all my health along the way.


Well I didn't have much health this time either, but I was able to get a few good cuts in while his back was turned. And then he exploded.

More evidence for my space robot theory.

After clearing the bar of enemies, Ryu starts driving off all the customers too.

Ninja Ryūkenden (PC Engine)
The SNES version of the game looks so similar in cutscenes it's not worth showing, but the PC Engine has redrawn artwork. Again I'm not sure it's an improvement.

Though it does show Ryu starting his trend of wearing more and more metal on his forehead.

The mysterious woman seems a little bit irritated by being ordered around by an alcoholic ninja, and draws a gun on him.

Ryu barely has time to yell "What the...?!" before she shoots him.

Ryu wakes up in a cell. It turns out that he'd been shot with a tranquillizer dart... his only weakness.

But before he can reflect on how crap of a ninja he's been so far, the door opens and he's handed a creepy looking statue. Ryu seizes his chance and escapes the cell.

Hopefully they didn't take his sword off him or else this game's going to get a lot harder.

Damn! Not only did Ryu get to keep his sword, but I've figured out that I can break these lights in the background for pick-ups, Castlevania style.

Ninja Ryūkenden (PC Engine)
For some reason hitting the lights in the PC Engine version seems much harder. I keep swinging my sword a little too late for it to connect. So I'll just throw these shurikens I picked up at them instead.

Hey I hit a bat with that shot too! Double kill!

I don't know what these dog-like creatures are but I wish they'd stop running into me. I can afford to take a bit of damage during the levels, but I can't afford to get knocked backwards down a bottomless pit and instakilled.

Ninja Ryūkenden (PC Engine)
On the PC Engine version they're unambiguously dogs, and they're still just as annoying.

Stop knocking me into pits you canine bastards!

That was not my fault! Some creepy zombie witch thing was standing on the ledge I needed to land on. What was I supposed to do, throw a shuriken?

Oh, right... maybe I'll try that next time.

Oh crap. Did I just lose the game?

Hey, infinite continues! Plus it started me off on the level I died on.

No passwords or saves though, so I'd have to finish the entire game in one playthrough. The SNES port does have passwords though.

Machine guns, flies, soldiers/footballers running around everywhere... it's getting a bit too crowded here for me.

Ah, that's better. Fire shield gives me a few seconds of invulnerability, combined with the ability to destroy anything I touch. Both very handy abilities for a ninja escaping from captivity.

Where the hell is this place anyway? The ancient stone ruins of New Mexico?

Fuck this, I'm not going back down there. This boss is swinging some kind of pick axe thing around and I've only got three bars of health left.

Then again, I've got a time limit... I'm gonna have to try to get behind him and hit him before he turns around and hits me.


Eventually Ryu finally gives up on trying to find a bar without enemies swarming over it, and goes off to find the archaeologist instead. There he finds out about his dad's ninja expedition to some old Amazon ruins.

In the ruins Ryu's father and the archaeologist found a strange statue, and a stone tablet explaining that there are two of the things, each containing half the power of an evil demon.

Sounds a bit worrying really.

Oh crap, a sneaky ninja just jumped in and swiped the one we had.

It seems that someone gets the jump on Ryu in every cutscene. I think he needs to go back to ninja school.

Okay now I need to chase the ninja who stole my statue. It'd be easier if... whatever that is would stop running into me.

I don't know where I am now, but it seems a fair distance from the city in the first level. Which just makes me more confused why we were even there.

Crap, I thought that was a wall!

And now the birds are joining in? This is just getting ridiculous.

Birds, flies, dogs, witches... they should have just sent one woman with a tranquillizer gun if they wanted the job done right.

OH! Of course. The flies weren't enemies, they were pick-up containers like the lights on the first few levels. How the hell did that not occur to me?

I've been jumping over and dodging them all this time. Well it shows how much use I get out of the special weapons. I didn't even notice they were gone.


Agh, you son of a bitch. I'm right at the end of the level! That's it, that's the exit door on the right.

Every time I lose a life I'm put right back at the start of the level, so I've seen a lot of this place already.


YES! Fuck you bird, fuck you! You can't hurt me ever again! I am out of here.

Huh, I... don't get it. What killed me? He's all the way over there.

Well I've got an extra life left, so when I come back with full health I'll be able to see what it is he did to kill me, and maybe even avoid it if I'm lucky. 

Oh, right. Of course.

Losing a life puts me right back at the start of the level. So I'd have to replay the whole thing all over again to get back to the boss. And I'd probably be back to only have three bars of health left when I got there, so he'd just instantly destroy me again and then I'm right back here.

You know, the game does have some charm to it, but my interest in getting any further has just evaporated. If the boss fights were a separate level I could restart on when I'm killed I'd be tempted to give this a gold star. But they're not, and the game hates me, so I'm moving onto a different game. Something without bottomless pits hopefully.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you did a great job but it seems like you are not used to play these kind of games. They are really challenging like megaman (all from nes)


Semi-Random Game Box