Review by IceMage2000
Fast pace and frantic
Ninja Gaiden for the NES was release by Tecmo in the late 80s. This game is all about ninjas and how awesome they are. In the 1980s ninjas were all the rage. Everything from TMNT to Shinobi starred ninjas. Like wise, this series does too. It stars a young ninja named Ryu Hyabusa who finds out his father went off to fight and never returned. Unsettled, Ryu goes off to find out what became of his father. The game has cutscenes which are played out in between Acts. Each Act consists of 2-3 levels and a boss at the end.
The gameplay of Ninja Gaiden is fast paced and intense. The controls are good and responsive. Ryu swings his sword and can duck like any great ninja. He can also find weapons and power ups by slashing floating objects ranging from lanterns to birds. Some of these weapons are good like the spin jump which allows Ryu to attack while making a jump, sort of like Screw Attack in the Metroid games. All these weapons cost him attack points which he can find in floating objects too.
This game is fun, but has some serious flaws that will turn a lot of people away. The controls are good for the most part, but the level design can be really unfair, particularly in the later levels. I've never beaten this game without the use of save states because of the insane challenge. You have a health meter and extra lives. You also have infinite continues (sort of). When you lose all your lives ordinarily you go back to the beginning of the level in the act instead of a level checkpoint. If you die to a boss the same is generally true. The last boss however consists of three bosses in a row and if you die at all, even if you still have lives left, you go back to the beginning of the whole act. That's like if in Super Mario Bros, If you died at the final bowser fight, you would be sent back to 8-1, rather than 8-4. It's a pretty harsh punishment and not a good one. This means that most people will not ever beat this game because they'll have no clue what the boss will do and not get any practice which is pretty much required to advance through the mess of enemies and obstacles. The levels are designed okay in the beginning of the game, but later ones make you jump across pits only to have a sadistically placed enemy on the other side magically appear out of thin air and knock you backward to your doom. Enemies often will just respawn out of nowhere and hit you. When you get hit you will always fly back in one of two directions and if there's a pit nearby which is often, you're dead. Ryu can cling to walls, but he cannot swing his sword while on the wall. He has to jump off and attack which is a pain. I'm not sure if the developers purposely made the enemies respawn to make the game more challenging, but either way it's not good design.
The best thing about Ninja Gaiden in my opinion is the music. Every tracks kicks a$$ and makes you wanna be a ninja. It really pumps you up which is what a game should do. I'd say this is one of the best NES soundtracks and that says a lot.
The graphics are also fun. There are cutscenes after each level and it's nice to see on such old hardware like the NES. Not many games had these and I greatly appreciate them as they tell a story. Enemies are pretty distinguishable and so are the hazards of each level.
Ninja Gaiden is fun as I said, but the cheap deaths and respawning enemies hurt the score quite a bit. If you like really hard games and getting your butt handed to you on a plate, this game is for you.
Story: 8/10 Love the cutscenes and how you get one every time you beat a level
Gameplay: 4/10 The concept of a platformer is good, but the level designs aren't good and enemies appearing out of no where makes difficulty cheap and unfair
Control: 7/10 Ryu controls well for the most part. The wall climb can be stiff
Graphics: 7/10 The in game graphics are good and the cutscenes are great
Music: 9/10 Really awesome NES soundtrack in my opinion. Really makes you feel like a bad a$$
Overall: 6/10: This game could've been amazing and one of the best on the NES if only the level design had been more fair. It's still good, but only if you enjoy super difficult games which a lot people do not.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Ninja Gaiden (US, 03/31/89)
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