Review by PUhler

Reviewed: 01/16/01 | Updated: 01/16/01

Who is that? Just a girl. Get out of here!

Ahhhh... the fond memories of games we used to play. I think we all have nostalgic memories of our favorite games of yester-year. Sadly though, sometimes the sepia-toned nostalgia warps your mind into believing the game is a classic, but when you play it again, you just cannot see what attracted you to said game so much. Most of the times it isn't because of the graphics either... but just for the fact you realize it isn't what you hyped it to be.

When I popped in my borrowed copy of Ninja Gaiden in my borrowed NES, I figured that the game wasn't going to be as good as I remembered it (partly because I wasn't that much of a fan way back when Tecmo released NG). Well, it wasn't... I don't remember Ninja Gaiden being a flashing grey screen. After removing it, blowing on the insides of the cart, then trying again, NG was up and running. Did I get wha I expected? Was it better then I expected... or was it worse? Find out now.

''It's always popular to start off with the graphics... so let's talk about the music!''

Oh yeah, this is what it's about. I always remembered NG to have some great tunes, but I never figured they'd stand up to the relentless onslaught of Father Time. They did. The music is excellent, and probably the best you're going to find for the NES. Yes, the songs are 'just' eight-bit midis, but what a collection of eight-bit midis it is! They all sound great, even today, and the composition is outstanding; Ninja Gaiden's musical tracks will have you humming along in no time. Hell, they're still stuck in my head!

It'd be a shame if the sound effects couldn't hold up this high-standard of sonic excellence, so it's a good thing they do. From the slashing sound of your sword hacking away, to the sound of you launching a swirl of fire at your unlucky foes, to the little things like simply grabbing onto a wall, NG has a variety of rock solid sound effects to please your ears.

Tecmo obviously put a ton of effort into Ninja Gaiden with their sound work, and it really paid off, as convincing sound effects and unbeatable music are among the best the NES has to offer.

''STILL a treat for the eyes!''

With all the wonders for the eyes available for the gamer these days, I didn't really expect anything from Ninja Gaiden in the visual department. When I play an NES game I know what to expect, and it doesn't bother me that way. Well, NG actually suprised me with the quality of the graphics! The sprites are drawn and animated quite well, and the color is quite impressive. Backrounds may look a tad barren at times, but what NES games didn't?

The best usage of the graphics were the insanely beautiful cut-scenes... take that CG! You see, to advance the story-line, NG used anime style cut-scenes to further the tale. While they may have been still, the detail and overall brevity of having such a thing was mind-blowing at the time, and I was floored even today!

All in all, Ninja Gaiden has some slick visuals. With solid animation and color, and simply beautiful cut-scenes, NG certainly does not suffer any in this area. Well, the sound and graphics are good, but that's not the reason to play a game. I mean, it certainly seems that way these days, with beautiful but gameplay deficient titles like Shenmue selling so good, but in the old days chances are that if you made a graphically intense game, it wasn't that much better looking then the others (which actually appears to be happening again thanks to the coming of age of the super-consoles), so the developers tried to make gameplay their selling point. Gameplay also happens to be Ninja Gaiden's selling point.

''Back when gameplay ruled the roost, Ninja Gaiden was King''

The beginning of Ninja Gaiden starts with a cut-scene involving your father and a mysterious ninja. It's a very intene picture, with the two warriors swiftly racing across the ground, against the back-drop of a full moon. They both leap, draw their swords and strike... unfortunetly (or fortunetly for the player), your father does not survive the encounter.

You are Ryu Hayabusa, and you will avenge your father. You don your blue ninja gear, and set out to complete your mission.

The gameplay itself revolves of Ryu Hayabusa running through 6 side-scrolling levels, hacking through a variety of assorted mutants, miscreants, and misanthropes, picking up a variety of different items, and deftly platforming from trechearous ledge to treachorous ledge, often doing all of the above at the same time.

The formula could have been killed with some poor controls, but Tecmo made sure to make Ninja Gaiden one of the the tightest playing games of all time. Control is as responsive as it gets, and is just absolutely perfect. It's very easy to step behind the controls and be bouncing off walls, negotiating deadly drops, and swiftly slicing the enemy into eigths (not really, because they evaporate when you hit them, but slicing them into eights sounded cooler).

NG also has a welcome twist thrown into your average 'run through enemy filled levels and face off against a boss' 2-D platforming formula. That is the items. You can get an assortment of items from the stashes (usually being a torch or something of that nature) as you race through the many cities, mountains and jungles of NG. These are usually throwing stars, maybe a large boomerang-like ninja star, or possibly a large bolo-of-fire, or a flame shield. These items operate on what I'll call 'ki energy', and if the meter is too low, you won't be able to perform the attacks. That's ok, because you've got unlimited usage of your bad-ass samurai sword, and the items, while helpful, are not a necessity.

Oh, and another thing about Ninja Gaiden that I enjoyed was the difficulty... something that I'm not used to, thanks to the easy nature of games these days. You get three lives, and when those run out, you have to start all the way back at the beginning of a level, which is quite an annoyance at the end of the game, where progressing through the multiple stages each level consists of becomes a bit of a chore. You also won't usually die from an enemy, it'll be the bottomless pits which are littered through-out the game. You're life ar will only be in danger of being deleted by an enemy against the enemies; the bosses, who get quite tough near the end of the game.

Ninja Gaiden has some super-hot, super-tight gameplay at its disposal, and will keep you coming back for more. It's maybe the best controlling game I've ever come across, and what's cooler then a being a ninja, careening through level after terrificly designed level, dealing death at every turn? That's what I thought.

''A powerful overall package''

With its combination of fast-paced 2-D platforming play mechanics, uber-tight control, solid graphics, and amazing soundtrack, and incredible cut-scenes, Ninja Gaiden is a must play for gamers everywhere.

Hot babe walks into the room as Pat is desperately trying to get past level 5
''Who is that? It's just a girl. Get out of here!''
Pat resumes playing

Pat would like to point out that even he's not crazy enough to turn down a girl for a session of Ninja Gaiden...

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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