Ganryu (NeoGeo) review
"The infuriatingly generic Ganryu manages to disappoint on every level. At its very core, one can only assume it is meant to be a nostalgic throwback to the 2D side scrolling ninja slice-a-thons of yore. Despite being made in 1999, it plays even worse than Shinobi did over a decade earlier, not to mention there are no bizarre 14-dimensional alien bosses or hi-tech tomfoolery, no relentless waves of enemies to fend off. Every aspect is stripped down to a uniform plain of vani..."
The infuriatingly generic Ganryu manages to disappoint on every level. At its very core, one can only assume it is meant to be a nostalgic throwback to the 2D side scrolling ninja slice-a-thons of yore. Despite being made in 1999, it plays even worse than Shinobi did over a decade earlier, not to mention there are no bizarre 14-dimensional alien bosses or hi-tech tomfoolery, no relentless waves of enemies to fend off. Every aspect is stripped down to a uniform plain of vanilla lameness.
Musashi, our stock anime protagonist (no relation WHATSOVER to Joe), lives the life of a simple smithy in his simple quaint forest village, in a zen hand-built house (erected without nails) with his lady friend, Otsu, who is inevitably abducted one night during a glorious slumber. By ninjas. Evil ones, who burn down the rest of the village for no good reason other than that's how they get their kicks, I suppose. To help retrieve the imperiled damsel, you can enlist the aid of Otsu's sister, Suzume, who happens to be a kunoichi in the Iga ninja clan. Cool.
It's too damn bad developer Visco forgot to include simultaneous play! Any promise of a ninja double-team is instantly quashed. That, added to the nonexistent variation between the characters gameplay-wise, makes one wonder why there was even a choice.
Off you go, then, by your lonesome, into the night. The inferno, formerly your simple woodland hamlet, threatens to rage out of control in the background.
Inflamed villagers run by, but you cannot hesitate to help for a second because, you guessed it, a fresh wave of zombie ninja reinforcements is descending from the moonlit skies like a fucking rainstorm of cold steely death. Your single attack with the blade is more than enough to handle them, and by handle I mean turn into finely minced Spam. Chop, chop! The cadavers explode into fountains of green fluid while you gracefully leap over their slow-moving and telegraphed shuriken and firebomb attacks, or just use your grappling hook and zip away to safety by latching onto another burning rooftop.
While this sounds like an epic setpiece, the utterly lackadaisical level design makes sure there is nothing more exciting or complex to deal with than swinging ropes or chasms between rooftops. Nothing that has been substantially improved upon since Pitfall!, to put it another way. The music doesn't even attempt to emulate excitement or danger. There is just a looping chintzy flute melody and monotonous taiko drumbeat. Just to reiterate, Visco managed to fail at making ZOMBIE NINJAS, and the means of their disposal, compelling. Both characters have only three attacks (four if you count the improper use of your grappling hook) so there isn't much room for variation or creativity (or joy).
Perhaps the least offensive aspect of the game is in the general speed of gameplay, and the pretty cool grappling hook mechanics. There is a hilariously useless projectile attack given to you that only succeeds in getting you killed from standing still. A professional ninja must always be on the move. Musashi is nimble enough to double-jump and rebound off walls, which would be cool if there were any environmental hazards to worry about. What it comes down to is, when you aren't slicing apart zombified foot soldiers you're jumping around trying to find which platform the boss is on.
Once you stumble upon a boss, though, the game finally becomes interesting (if only for these fleeting instances).
Through fairly amusing but static anime cutscenes, our hero and his recently resurrected demon rival, Kojiro, exchange apocalyptic threats and other epic proclamations through the always hilarious filter of Engrish. While the coloured psychadelic backgrounds swirl about, the characters are screaming awful phrases like "You going to the next world!!" Surprise surprise, the storytelling is generic and sloppy too.
The only semblance of challenge you're going to get from Ganryu is from these end-of-level tussles with the undead and other Eldritch and vaguely Lovecraftian horrors. The first boss is a demonic mind-possessing doll who transforms into a cyborg spider complete with flamethrower arm and four mechanized piston-legs that will have no problems stomping you into fine dust. The fireball-shooting monstrosity that Kojiro turns into looks like something you only see on black metal album covers, and he looks pretty cool in motion. Too bad his patterns are ridiculously easy, and none of his other underworld compatriots are much tougher.
In particular, the LAST BOSS OF THE GAME.
I looked and looked but could not find even a a trace of originality in this game. There are no power-ups, there is no teleportation, or flying, hell, there aren't even backflips in this stupid game. Musashi is just a boring poser ninja who manages to have a personality entirely in a vacuum, who manages to have adventures slaying demonically posessed zombie warriors that not only bore but irritate and finally depress. Earlier benchmarks Shinobi III and Ninja Spirit own this game on every possible level. The makers of Ganryu must have pretended 10 years worth of ass-kicking Sega ninja games never even existed.
This wannabe deserves to rot in obscurity.
Community review by johnny_cairo (May 05, 2007)
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