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Ninja Crusaders (NES) artwork

Ninja Crusaders (NES) review

"Turns out the shurikens aren't getting the job done. They provide great range, but our ninja may as well be throwing butter knives."

I would like to start by apologizing to ninjas everywhere. I know you lead demanding lives training in the killing arts and gymnastics. I know it's rough not being able to eat spicy foods for fear that the gas might ruin your stealth. I know ninjas don't like harsh criticism, but a game like Ninja Crusaders doesn't do you any justice. I'm hoping you will realize this before you kill me in my sleep for giving it a 5 out of 10. So, um, sorry?

Apology accepted?

A solid premise presents itself: aliens have leveled society and only a group of ninjas remain. The aliens find what a miscalculation this was when many of them turn up dead. Their defense rests on placing their remaining grunts--horrific mutations and robots--on interspersed platforms left amidst the wreckage.

Our ninja finds this quite the sport. Leaping from platforms is a favorite pastime among his kind, passed down before the days of Ryu Hayabusa. Throw in some little green men and it becomes a real bitch. The first enemies-- bipedal crab creatures--fall with a single shot. Such weaklings are key to steady pacing in a platformer. But our hero doesn't even leave the first level before bumping into multiple-hit robots. These guys make for great challenge, but once you bump into ones that take eight hits the pacing begins to drop out.

Turns out the shurikens aren't getting the job done. They provide great range, but our ninja may as well be throwing butter knives. But when he picks up a sword or bo staff, that's when bodies start hitting the ground. A robot that takes eight hits from the shurikens takes only one hit with a sword. That first boss that takes an infinite number of stars looks like a clown when given a few thwacks from a bo. The only trade off is that you practically have to hug the enemies to hit them. This puts you in no man's land, where one misstep ends in a claw to the face.

Any ninja worth his salt would dust himself off and say, “Ha! I still have half my life bar left sucka!” Our crusader, though, just dies and starts over. An entire level consists of weaving around obstacles, leaping from platforms, bo-staffing enemies in the face, and hoping you don't get hit even once. You will make friends with some great four-letter words in this outing.

At least the continues are infinite.

You might own at this game after some practice. You'll replay levels so many times you'll develop a rhythm and learn how best to get around various situations on the fly. The placement of enemies in relation to the platforms gets your brain going. How can you kill an enemy that lingers at the very edge of a platform without taking a hit? Precision and planning, my friends. It's all in the thumb skill.

Just don't expect that challenge to carry you through the whole affair. Many levels of the same situations--enemy on platform up high, down low, in the middle, on a small platform in large number--makes for many yawns. There's no branching to the levels, no variance, no surprises. If the gameplay can't hold the player, then the challenge is for naught.

You realize this after the sixtieth time an erratically jumping robot bumps into you, or an enemy falls out of the sky that you couldn't have known about. Unlike more modern horizontal platformers like Super Meat Boy or Braid, Ninja Crusaders has to resort to cheapness to stay challenging. This could be to compensate for the lackluster level designs, but it only serves to infuriate.

A ninja wouldn't stoop to being cast in a mediocre adventure. Ninja Crusaders manages to test your precision and speed, but fails to make ninjas interesting.

I'll say it again with ridiculous emphasis:

That's almost a criminal act. If you're going to put ninjas in your game, make the most of them.

Ninja Crusaders starts off intense, but loses its charm after you see the same situations pop up again and again. Sorry ninjas, but you deserve better than this.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (April 06, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Masters posted April 06, 2011:

This review made me think of:

"Apology accepted, Captain Needa."

Dunno if that's what you were going for though!

Good, funny review. Did you play it on Wii?

One typo (I think): "Such weaklings are key to a steady pacing in a platformer." I believe the "a" isn't necessary here.
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CoarseDragon posted April 06, 2011:

Ninjas Sweet...oh, wait...sour. To bad I like Ninja games.

Add "game" to this sentence?

That's almost a criminal act. If you're going to put ninjas in your game, make the most of them.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 06, 2011:

Thank you both!

I didn't play this one on Wii. As far as I know, it's not available on VC.

I love ninja games, but this one sticks in my craw. I'm more of a Ninja Gaiden and Shadow of the Ninja kind of guy.
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Masters posted April 06, 2011:

Wait, so did you play this on your NES, or emulate?
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JoeTheDestroyer posted April 06, 2011:

Little bit of both. I had played it on NES eons ago and emulated it to reacquaint myself.

The unfortunate thing is that my NES crapped out years ago. I do want to get a new one, possibly a Nintoaster or something snazzy like that. If a game is available on VC, I usually get it there before emulating.
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fleinn posted April 06, 2011:

"A solid premise presents itself:" :D heheheheh. Awesome.

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