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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (42793)
Written on  :  Apr 24, 2022
Platform  :  NES
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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A great platform game that pokes fun at slang terms

The Good

A year before Irem came out with their popular shoot-em-up, R-Type, they released an overlooked platform game marketed at kids. That game was called Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (known in Japan as Kaiketsu Yanchamaru (快傑ヤンチャ丸 – The Wonderful Yanchamaru)) and it made its debut in the arcades before being released on three home systems: Apple II, Commodore 64, and Famicom/NES. The game makes fun of common slang terms children used at the time. The gameplay is very similar between the Japanese and Western versions, except that Niki’s outfit is different and there is modified text between the two.

Young Niki is training at a Ninja academy when a bird is struck with an arrow mid-air and lands near his feet. Niki picks up the note attached and reads it. It says that the Stone Wizard has kidnapped his girlfriend, Princess Margo. Niki breaks through the wall and sets out to rescue her. In seven horizontally-scrolling levels, Niki has to defeat SW’s henchmen using only his sword, a gift that has passed down from generation to generation from the School of Chirin.

The sword twirls as long as it is activated, killing anyone that comes into contact with it. Instead of slicing enemies in half, it flings them into the air, adding to the comedy. There are also two types of bells that Niki can get. The Golden Bell launches a projectile every time Niki gets out his sword, while the Silver Bell creates a spinning force field around him.

At the end of each stage is a boss that needs to be defeated in order to progress to the next one. Each boss has a weak spot which you need to find, otherwise your attacks will be useless and it is likely that your sword will be flung at a distance. The bosses become much tougher as you progress through the game. They also have these hilarious attacks. Death Breath, the first boss, breathes on you and then performs a headbutt. Mad Monk, the fifth boss, creates a scene and attacks you with gigantic kanji that ricochets off the floor toward you.

The comedy does not stop there. During the game, you also come across strange creatures. In the cave, you stumble across this green frog who spits fire at you. After this, you head toward another who has its back toward you. After a second, the same frog bends over backwards and uses the same fire attack. At the same time, the game also teaches you to always be on alert and not to keep going forward without seeing incoming dangers ahead of you.

As I have mentioned, Kid Niki was ported to three home systems. Of these, the Nintendo NES port is very faithful to its arcade parent. The excellent background music lasts for only about ten seconds, and there is even a little bit of speech thrown in for good measure. What’s strange about this game overall is that each stage is split into sections, and in the Famicom version, the sections count up (ie: 1-1 becomes 1-2 then 1-3, and so on). This is a far cry from the single number in the arcade version counting down.

In its native Japan, Kid Niki received at least three sequels that were not released in the arcade: two for the Famicom and another for the Game Boy. All of them share similar gameplay mechanics. In the first sequel, however, Niki can change into different creatures, similar to Mario’s transformations in Super Mario Bros. 3.

The Bad

Can’t think of anything.

The Bottom Line

Quite amusing and fun to play, Kid Niki: Radical Ninja is another platform game from Irem that pokes fun at the common slang terms children used during the era. It was released around the same time when the rescue-the-damsel-in-distress theme was common in games. The Famicom port is very faithful; the graphics are great, and the repeating background music never gets old. If you are into platform games (especially strange ones like this), then Kid Niki should be worth your time.

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