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The Ninja (Sega Master System) artwork

The Ninja (Sega Master System) review


"When I played this game for the first time, I thought it was too hard and unfair at times. I kept playing up till the river bank level where I lost and just gave up on the game, considered it as bad as My Hero, and started playing another game. But recently, I started playing the game again, took the time to learn what to do, figure out what certain things do what, memorize enemies patterns, and I then realized it wasn't such a bad game after all. But it still can be hard as hell sometime..."



When I played this game for the first time, I thought it was too hard and unfair at times. I kept playing up till the river bank level where I lost and just gave up on the game, considered it as bad as My Hero, and started playing another game. But recently, I started playing the game again, took the time to learn what to do, figure out what certain things do what, memorize enemies patterns, and I then realized it wasn't such a bad game after all. But it still can be hard as hell sometimes, though.

In Japan's Edo era, around 1630, the province of Ohkami was a peaceful place for many years, until the feudal lord passed away. Now, Gyokuro has seized power, is tormenting the people of Ohkami, and has locked the princess in the basement of Ohkami Castle. Obviously, one, and ONLY one, person is up to the challenge of defeating Gyokuro, his army of ninjas, restore peace to the land, and save the princess! His name? Kazamaru!! ARE YOU A BAD ENOUGH DUDE TO RESCUE THE PRINCESS!?!?!....er....sorry.

After the intro story that scrolls by too damn fast and then the ugly looking title screen with the horrific sounding music, you begin your long difficult journey through 13 stages (11 of which you only need to go through to beat the game) to the castle. The game's view is in an over head perspective and you go from bottom to top through most of the stages (in some stages you go from left to right and vise versa). You can backtrack if you missed something, or when you're being attacked by an army of ninjas and need more room. You don't start out very good, you have a bunch of knives as your weapon and you move at a snail's pace. You have two ways of attacking, with button 1 you can attack in any direction and with button 2 you can only attack in the forward direction. Pretty good in most cases, like when fighting a boss or getting rid of a row of ninjas coming at you from above the screen. But the most useful move in the game is Kazamaru's ability to disappear (by pressing both buttons). He doesn't stay that way for long, but it's a real lifesaver when you seem stuck in one position and have a bunch of ninja darts being thrown in your direction (you can also move when disappeared). There are power ups in the game that can help improve your condition, the red scroll upgrades your weapon from knives to Pinwheel Darts (aka big ass ninja stars) that are more powerful and can cut through a row of ninjas. Then there's the blue scroll, which can make your guy move much faster then before, useful in later stages when the enemy charges at you at a frightening rate.

There are a variety of "The Ninja" that you face off against in the game, the type that you go up against the most are the gray type (let's just call them normal ninjas). They come at you with all sorts of stuff like darts, sickles, swords, disguise themselves as rocks, and in later stages they spin around you like crazy while throwing darts, very hard to avoid. Other types are fire breathing ninjas, Kuno-ichi('s?), female ninjas that hide and lunge out at you as you walk by, and then Ninja Wolves, ninjas disguised as wolves. Then there are the very fast enemies, Footloose and Samurai's, they appear in the later stages and come at you in groups from the top and bottom of the screen, very hard to take out all at once. Of course, we can't forget about the bosses, or lack thereof. Ninniku is the boss of stages 1-9, he has some type of stick that spins around him and throws darts like normal ninjas. He's pretty easy to defeat, the only time you'll have some trouble defeating him is in stage 3, when he uses Pinwheel Darts (you can't deflect them like normal darts). Gyokuro is the boss for stages 10-13 and is even more easier to defeat then Ninniku. He uses guns, but you can easily deflect the bullets with your knives/pinwheel darts. A very disappointing final boss, if it weren't for his army of ninjas, I'm pretty sure the people of Ohkami could take him out with a stick. Don't expect the enemy to just stand around and attack from a distance, they'll are charge at you when they appear on screen. Needless to say, you won't get many breaks between the action in this game.

As I said earlier, there are a total of 13 stages (they're called ''Steps'' in the game). For most of the game, you'll just go from bottom to top, taking out ninja after ninja, but there are some instances where you have to move along with the screen while avoiding deadly objects. Like in stage 2 where you have to avoid the rolling boulders, or prevent from getting trampled by a stampede of horses in stage 7, all while trying not to get killed by "The Ninja". I also mentioned that you only need to go through 11 of the stages to beat the game, here's why: you cannot get to the last stage without getting all 5 of the green scrolls that are hidden between stages 1-9. If you go all the way to the end of stage 12 and you don't have all 5, then the game will send you back a couple of stages, then you have to work your way back up to the later stages. The first green scroll is easy to get, but the others require a bit of exploration, you usually have to walk up to an object or hit it in order for it to appear. Yeah, that does sound like a pain in the ass, and it is the biggest downside to this game. You'll most likely be sent back a couple of times before you discover all of the scrolls.

The graphics are very simple, but nice, the ninjas look like they could've been easily made with Microsoft Paint. The samurai's, Ninniku, and Gyokuro have a bit more detail on there clothes then the ninjas. Most of the enemy animation are limited, but they don't end up looking bad at all. Ironically, your character Kazamaru has the most animation in the game, yet, he ends up looking like an idiot. He looks as if he's a chicken running around panicking as starved crazy ninjas come after him, wanting lunch. The backgrounds are decent, nothing special, but you do almost get something different in every stage. From grassy fields, villages, a river bank, the wall of the castle etc., some objects are reused in later stages and the only time complete backgrounds are reused, are in stages 3 (stage 1 grass fields) and 12 (same as stage 11 but every thing is recolored).

There aren't many tunes in the game, but the music is pretty good and fits the overall theme of the game. There is one tune, however, that's so out of place and annoying, though. Yup, it's that music that plays at the title screen, it's so fast paced, up beat and energetic. This would have been fine if it only played at the title screen, but it also plays in the game. Whenever you pick up the red scroll (Pinwheel Darts), that tune comes out of nowhere and plays nonstop, over and over and over and over again throughout the game until you die and lose the scroll. Imagine listening to Hokey Pokey Elmo sing his song over and over again, and you get a good idea just how annoying it can become. There aren't that many sound effects and they're pretty simple, from the sound of metal clashing, to Kazamaru disappearing (a ''whoop!'' kind of sound) to the odd cartoonish whistling sound as you die, nothing bad or annoying, it's just.....there.

It only takes 15 to 20 minutes to beat the game (assuming you know where the green scrolls are), but you sure get alot of action thrown right at you for such a short game. The ending's kinda disappointing after all of the stuff you had to go to get there (they don't even show credits), but if you want a challenging game where you need quick reflexes to survive and alot of action, then you might want to try out The Ninja. It may be really difficult at times, but if you know what to do and what moves you have at your disposal, then it shouldn't be THAT hard.

Rating: 7/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (October 11, 2004)

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