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Ninja Five-O (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Ninja Five-O (Game Boy Advance) review


"When I was a boy, I had decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a ninja. An unorthodox career choice, no doubt, and I came to learn that the Midwest American workforce had little need for a professional ninja. In fact, a ninja nowadays is likely to have considerable difficulty finding a market for their particular set of skills. Tragic, but truth. "



When I was a boy, I had decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a ninja. An unorthodox career choice, no doubt, and I came to learn that the Midwest American workforce had little need for a professional ninja. In fact, a ninja nowadays is likely to have considerable difficulty finding a market for their particular set of skills. Tragic, but truth.

So what does today’s ninja do when he has to make ends meet? He has to pay the bills, after all. Feed his ninja babies. Buy new shuriken and so on. So he has to take on another job. Maybe become a Ninja Chef, or a Ninja Lawyer, or in this case… a Ninja Cop (not a Ninja Five-O. We won’t be using that title in this review, as it’s a stupid title).

Ninja Cop’s tale is confusing, to say the least. What we know is that some huge, sprawling city has been besieged by a crime wave! Criminals who love to take hostages, because in just about every level you’ll have plenty of them to save. The goal of the baddies is unknown, but the city is griped in fear and the regular cops can do nothing to save the day. Even the cops of Streets of Rage (or Bare Knuckle, if you like) tremble in terror at the horrors set upon this city.

No, only one man can wake The City (as I’ll now officially call it; no affiliation with The Tick’s The City) from this terrible nightmare: You, the Ninja Cop. Ninja Cop must fight and rescue citizens through a slew of city locales. A bank, a harbor, an airport, before things take a weirder turn as he quests into a cave, the enemy base, and finally a launch site (I guess they’re launching a missile or something).

He has quite the trial ahead of him. In additional to the common robbers and thugs one would associate with crime sprees, it seems the masterminds in charge have wisely decided to employ Evil ninjas, military personnel who carry flamethrowers and laser cannons, and have even gotten bats and snakes to turn to the side of Bad through their wickedry. Said masterminds are not your usual mob bosses; very little in this game is usual. Instead, this wave of fear is being perpetrated by such colorful characters as a giant hypno toad, and a mighty dragon shogun... guy.

These boss battles can get pretty tough, especially on the higher difficulties, so get ready to study these attack patterns and weaknesses as Ninja Cop meets his doom again and again.

Worry not, for all is not lost for our stout hero. He’s come prepared for this Emergency (and it is an Emergency; the opening “cutscene” kindly blares this in your face as its only real semblance of story) with an infinite supply of shuriken, trusty ninja sword, and a bitchin’ grappling hook which is a lot of fun to use and handles like a dream. The grappling hook has more uses than indulging your Spider-Man fantasies, however; you’ll need it to traverse the unforgiving, albeit confusing environments without harm (I dunno about you, but my airport doesn’t have chasms lined with spikes or mounted fire-spraying devices). It’s also wonderful for getting the drop on the hostage-nabbing bad guys, so you don’t accidentally plug innocents with your distance weapons (oddly enough, the bad guys themselves will never kill a hostage. Only your bungling a star throw or getting a little too slash happy will do that).

In addition to the tools of the trade mentioned above, Ninja Cop can come across a rather handy lightning bolt item, usually found in a bright red briefcase. I know when I’m packing clothes, I never forget to add in the Power of Zeus. Curiously, these bolts never give Ninja Cop the power of the gods. Rather, picking one up will change the color of his outfit (?!) and replace his weak shuriken with a 3-way fireball shot. Pretty handy. A second bolt will increase Ninja Cop’s power to a third level, with another color swap (black, like a REAL ninja) and a new Death Laser projectile, lime flavored.

Do try and keep that costume black as often as possible, especially for those tough boss fights. One of the major issues with Ninja Cop is that any time you’re hit, your power level drops a notch. One touch and kiss that handy laser shot bye bye. Another and it’s time to chuck stars again 'til you pick up some more greased lightning. A bothersome system akin to The Castlevania Adventure on the old black and white Gameboy.

Other than the irritating power-up (more often power-down) system, there’s not a lot to find wrong with Ninja Cop. The difficulty can be a pain, but as the game is more fun than frustrating, it just translates to challenge. Graphics are bright, colorful, and pretty well detailed for a Gameboy Advance title. There are some quibbles with the sound (both effects and music) in that there isn’t a great variety of either. Expect the same stock grunts, whooshes, and triad of tracks to play throughout the game.

However, it doesn’t ruin what is otherwise a fun-filled--if senseless and a tad short--romp through The City’s bizarre architecture, battling zany villains and gobbling up every lightning bolt in sight and making sure you rescue hostages instead of murder them.

Ninja Cop never arrests anyone though. Or does detective work, or does anything that might indicate he’s employed by the police force. So yes, like so many things in the game, even the title makes no real sense.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rating: 8/10

turducken's avatar
Community review by turducken (January 15, 2007)

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