Review by ZFS

Reviewed: 07/13/04 | Updated: 06/01/06

Prepare to fight your worst enemies yet -- birds.

These were the days of many different kinds of titles, and of course the 80's, but within all the crazy robots, plumbers, commandos, etc. there was but on ninja who stuck out above the rest. His name? Ryu Hayabusa. His mission? To avenge his father's death and find out what the letter had meant. During the 8-bit days there weren’t a whole lot of cool looking characters, nor were there great personalities. However, Hayabusa made sure to put that to rest. One of the best games during the NES generation was indeed Ninja Gaiden!

NG has to have one of the best bring you in, sit and listen, kind of storyline of any NES game I've manage to come across. It starts out with two ninja's facing off one night, as they go to attack only one of them comes out alive. The next day Hayabusa receives word that his father has been killed and he must avenge his father's death! He suits up in his ninja attire and goes to clean the Hayabusa Clan name. The story picks up from there with very advanced, for the time, cut scenes that will tell you through the story. It really reminds me of a book while reading in between levels, the story doesn't go on end for hours like that of an RPG but manages to give you just enough to understand your mission. Very, very well crafted.

To go along with a dramatic story you'll, of course, need some music that sets the stage as well. Ninja Gaiden serves this up with a mixture of drama and adrenaline pumping tunes. During many of the cut scenes there is a movie like feeling to the way the music plays out, it can be anywhere from a sad tune before suddenly taking it to more of a shock, discovery, esque nature. During actual game playing it has a catchy set of mellow scores, none of them are particularly outstanding and they do tend to repeat themselves many times over the course of the level. Many of the boss theme songs seem to have a familiar sound to them as well, or matching that of how the level sounds. Overall it isn't terrible, but certainly nothing that'll be pulling you in.

Ninja Gaiden has your typical, side scrolling action involved in it while playing. You will basically run through each level jumping and slashing your way only to face a boss at the end of each one. Everything you’re able to do in the game resemble that of a real ninja, you have ninja stars, spinning sword, the ability to wall jump, etc. The only thing you'll be lacking from your "ninja-ness" is stealth. All of this does play a big role throughout the game as the challenge the game provides is hard, very hard. One of the major reasons the game has such a high difficulty rating is due to the crazy way enemies go about attacking. Since Ninja Gaiden came out during the 80's they will often appear once you leave one part of the screen so if you turn around their right there to greet you! The way they attack can also be quite frustrating, many times you will find yourself caught in a "combo" by an enemy. While difficulty is one of the key ingredients to what makes Ninja Gaiden so good, it can indeed present a large amount of frustration to some gamers.

As far as length goes this game should run you about 3-5 hours total. It isn't a long game by any means, but does offer up an enticing storyline to follow along with. The only downside to this is the lack of reason to replay it, there aren't any sidequests or real secrets to find so running through the game again really only comes from the enjoyment the game gives.

Overall, this is a solid title and one of the best NES experiences money can buy. The storyline stands out and grabs you in while the gameplay lets you experience what it's like to be an awesome 8-bit ninja! There isn't a whole lot of length to this one and the replay value comes from just wanting to go through it again, not to likely with most people. If you’re looking for a good game to add your NES collection Ninja Gaiden is just one that can't be left out. Go and clear the Hayabusa Clan's name!

Final Score: 9.0

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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