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Ninja Gaiden (NES)

84
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Satoshi Kunsai (1816)
Written on  :  Mar 20, 2004
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

Slice and dice! Ninja know no fear!

The Good

First, we had Sega's Shinobi. When I was 9 years old, I spent many a quarter on the arcade version (and much of my allowance, to my mother's dismay :p). Why? Simple: ninjas are the video game world's greatest and most versatile heroes. So how do you 1-Up an awesome game like Shinobi? I found out that Christmas, when I received Ninja Gaiden for my NES.

I popped that box open, grabbed the cart, and bashed it into my NES so quickly it nearly choked on it. I flick on the power, and sit back. And THAT'S when it caught my eye...

HOLY CRAP!! CUT-SCENES!! CUT-SCENES ON MY NES!! I was floored: I almost thought I was watching a movie; I had NEVER seen this high-quality look on my system! So I watch one ninja fall to the ground, and then I see the guy who would be the hero: Ryu Hayabusa...Ninja, Ladie's Man, Professional Ass Kicker.

I didn't even hit Start yet, and I was too impressed already!

Anyway, Ninja Gaiden's got it all. Ryu's quite fleet-footed, quick on the draw with his sword, and slices and dices like no one's business. He listens to your every command (read: dead-on control). He does about 50 flips in the air during a jump. He's got cool Ninja Arts to aid him on his quest, including shuriken, Windmill Shuriken (they boomerang all over the screen!!), the Spinning Blade (jump and slash in a circle), and the Invincible Fire Wheel (TOASTY VILLAINS!!). And he'll need them, too...I'll explain why later.

Although I did explain the cut-scenes already, I think I should go into a bit more detail and cover the in-game graphics, sound, and music while I'm at it. The cut-scenes in this game, for 1989, were amazing. They conveyed the story in such a way that it almost seems like an anime OVA (incidentally, there was a Ninja Gaiden OVA in Japan, but it was poorly written and animated, and Ryu was only a bit character in it. BLASPHEMY!!), and you get such a feel for the characters that you would think that they were alive and for real. The story is nothing short of excellent, and the game plays it out perfectly, breaking the action up into six acts of 2 to 5 stages each, for a grand total of 21 stages. The difficulty level in the game slowly progresses from very easy to hardcore gamer tough, but it progresses steadily from stage to stage. The bosses fall in the same category as well, with a very easy first boss to a hair-yanking hard final boss. More on the difficulty later.

The graphics in this game are pretty good, albeit a little grainy. Everyone is of a decent size but oddly drawn, but the animation in this game is just stunning; it's so fluid that you wouldn't think at first that this is still just an NES. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has at least 3 to 4 frames of animation; even little details like Ryu throwing a weapon look awesome in motion! The sounds are pretty good for an NES, although a few sounds are a little odd like the "FWP-SPLSH!" sound enemies make when they're killed (sounds like an explosion splashing into water!), and Ryu somehow makes this blasting sound when he gets hit. Is he laden with nitro or something? ^_^

But never mind that, the big draw in the sound department? The MUSIC!! Mark my words: MUSIC MAKES OR BREAKS THE GAME!! In this case, it doesn't just MAKE the game, it's the BLOOD WORK!! The music in this game is just TOO F***ING GOOD!!! The composer made some excellent use of the NES's sound system, including the ever so neglected PCM drum channel (one of the other games to really use this channel was Castlevania II: Simon's Quest). It's so awesome that I used to use the Sound Test code, then tape all the tunes off the TV with a portable tape recorder held to the speaker, just to listen to it later. It's THAT GOOD!! Every single tune, even to this day, rings in my head for all eternity, and out of every track, my personal favorite, the track from Stage 4-2 (Bazlisk Mine Field) just RULES! Thanks to emulation (and the Internet!), I now have the entire soundtrack in MP3 format, and I still can't get over how amazing the music is!

The Bad

Like I was saying about the difficulty...

All you little rugrats raised on today's modern systems have it easy. We old-timers had it tough. And Ninja Gaiden, while easy in the beginning, begins to show its true face about halfway into the game, and begins to become insanely hard! And one stage in particular, Stage 6-2 (all you old-timers who know what I'm talking about...raise your hands! *raises hand*), has been known to drive gamers into a furious rampage. Things are coming at you from literally every angle, and you need to put your skills to the ultimate test here. Come out unscathed, and you get to eat a whole box of Girl Scouts Thin Mint Cookies, on me. ^_^

Just thank Tecmo for one thing: infinite continues.

The Bottom Line

Even though Tecmo now is taunting and tempting us with voluptuous ninja girls and sexy women wrestlers, who can forget their roots? Ninja Gaiden is one of the best NES games of the time, and anyone who has had an NES in their home as a kid will agree.

But hey...sexy ninja girls are still good! ^_^ *deep voice* Bathe Kasumi...and bring her to me...