Review: Ninja Gaiden (NES)

The nimble ninja

Ninja Gaiden ranks as one of the finest 'ninja' style games ever made, right up there with The Revenge of Shinobi. When it was first released it amazed gamers with the degree of control it allowed over the main character, Ryu. He felt so quick and mobile - just like a proper Ninja should - and within seconds of picking up the pad, players were able to pull off wall jumps and super-swift attacks.

In the game you traverse the city and other locales, and head on to fight the evil henchmen in this side-scrolling action platformer. Ninja Gaiden controls like a dream, for an NES game, and has deep control mechanics, despite using just two buttons. Item pickups will help you out, but inevitably won’t save you. The first level is deceptive, leading you to believe you are a ninja master, and it really feels like it as you slash and shuriken your enemies left and right. Ryu’s ninja acrobatics and wall clinging makes you really feel like you’re accomplishing something.

The cutscenes inbetween levels were also a minor innovation for the time, and regardless of some rather daft dialogue, managed to add much to the game. The ninja magic was also pretty original, with powers like 'time freeze' helping to make the game that little easier. The biggest problem with NG is the difficulty - at times it can be amazingly frustrating, and it might be worth having a pillow to scream in whilst playing! Thankfully the game offers unlimited continues, which softens the blow a little.

Conclusion

Although the visuals have aged poorly, Ninja Gaiden still has plenty of enjoyable gameplay and challenge. The musical score should also be noted as one of the finest to be found on NES. In terms of NES platform action, it doesn't really get much better than this!

Note: Despite being released in Europe originally as Shadow Warriors, you get the American version of the game this time. Sadly it costs 100 extra Wii points for Europe as it is considered to be an import game.