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Ninja (DOS)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Terry Callahan (62)
Written on  :  Mar 13, 2009
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars

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Summary

A nice classic

The Good

What was the recipe for a good ninja game back in the mid-80's? When ninjas in movies were all the rage? Well, all you needed was a ninja who kicked ass! That was all you needed and that is what this game delivered.

Again, this is a nice classic oldie featuring a stereotypical ninja going about recovering idols from some group of people (a rival ninja clan, perhaps?) and you need to search the whole game (with over 21 rooms if I'm not mistaken) to find them. They're at complete random, thus you can find more than have of them at the very beginning if you're lucky.

Actually, what this game really excels at is its short, easy to play and learn interface and to be able to have a nice 20 minute break (it won't take longer, trust me). If your first conscious memories were in the late 80's, like me, you'd would have probably played this game at some time or at least been interested in ninja games (with the all the TMNT craze on TV, who wouldn't?), and this did require you to use your imagination as you envisioned the CGA graphics transforming into a movie-like cinematic sequence of epic proportions... hey, we all had wild imaginations back then. Actually the graphics just seemed fine despite the primitive 4-colors used, and did create a rather charming atmosphere.

One of the interesting things about the game the sheer number of attacks that were available for you to use. You had 6 kinds of attack (minus the throwing weapons, which would bring it up to 8) at your disposal, even though you only need one of them technically, it was a very interesting touch for them to attempt to create a fairly interesting combat system, by 1986 standards.

The Bad

Well, let's see... this game really didn't have that many negative points. It was intended to be a very short, sweet ninja fighting game, and at that end, it succeeds, but there are somethings that I believe fell off the mark.

For one thing, the rather uneven difficulty in the game when fighting with enemies. Despite having no less than 6 melee attacks at your disposal, only one, the jumping kick, seems to be worth anything. The truth is, swinging your sword around or punching and kicking is nearly useless since the enemies in the game can reduce you to pulp very quickly if you try to fight that way. Use the jumping kick, and you will win the majority of the fights with only luck being the factor of them landing the lucky hits that will kill you. I really, really believe it could have been improved, even if it was a slight factor.

The other thing is there is something in the Amiga version that wasn't present in the Dos version... the evil villain. In the Amiga version, once you got all seven idols, you would be chased by Akuma, the demon lord of the castle, and when you get back to the start screen, you will have to fight and defeat him to win the game. In the Dos version, I don't believe any such character exists and the game ends as soon as you return back to the original. Having Akuma, or some kind of final boss to have to fight would have been a great improvement over just the 'get em and get out' idea.

The Bottom Line

Do you like ninjas? Do you like old games? Do you have 20 minutes to spare? Well, then! What are you waiting for?