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Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES) artwork

Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES) review

"Oh boy, here we go. It is the return of the almost-practical “Zoop reviews a game that he has written an FAQ for” gag that I have done with everything from War Of The Monsters to Ratchet & Clank to Wario World. But this time, it is different; I grew up with average NES games as a kid. I remember having a ball with titles such as... uh... Kid Niki... and um... another above average NES game... Monster Party! There ya go! But now that I am more of a mature gamer, does Kid Niki stand the test of ti..."

Oh boy, here we go. It is the return of the almost-practical “Zoop reviews a game that he has written an FAQ for” gag that I have done with everything from War Of The Monsters to Ratchet & Clank to Wario World. But this time, it is different; I grew up with average NES games as a kid. I remember having a ball with titles such as... uh... Kid Niki... and um... another above average NES game... Monster Party! There ya go! But now that I am more of a mature gamer, does Kid Niki stand the test of time?

I bet you are curious as to what in the heck Kid Niki is, or is about. You take control of Kid Niki, who must travel through a series of different atmospheres to release the princess (I think) from the evil magician, the Stone Wizard. You must face several groups of the Stone Wizard’s goonies, and his higher up henchmen at the end of the eight stages. In case you could not have guessed by looking over at the information of the game, it is a 2-D side scrolling action/adventure platformer. Like Mario, only with bad graphics.

As an entire package (even the cover sticker that features a hot, neon pink background with a cyber punk with a sword on the cover—-REBEL!!!), Kid Niki is about as desirable as the return of the 1980s, and the music it gave us. Sadly, there was no Culture Club in Kid Niki, but rather an odd blend of “beep-beeps” and “boop-boops” that sounds like something that came straight out of a commercial to make fun of the worst of the Mario Brothers themes.

But enough about a simple blend of music talk, let’s get to the entire package for real this time! Kid Niki was one of those very simple types of games that could be played, and beaten within an hour, with very little difficulty. You felt somewhat empty after viewing over the game minutes upon end, thinking, “They built up that wonderful story of ‘Ninja School... Will Help You!’ all for THIS?!” But seriously, you cannot help but feel a tad bit hollow after you experience the wonder that is Kid Niki.

The developers often tend to try their hand at creating a difficult experience for the gamer to enjoy instead of deciding to destroy their poor old Nintendo Entertainment System by throwing it out of the window; but sadly, it never works out. I would have LOVED to see the brain storming sessions for this game. “Instead of actually giving the gamer a tough area to contend with, let’s throw random crap at them, most of which is too glitchy to notice, to hit their poor character when they least expect it!” Wow, brilliant idea there, man.

Speaking of which, the old “random enemies/non-destroyable objects coming out of nowhere in an attempt to hit you” thing really grows tiresome in most of the levels, most notably the bubble-objects in the fourth stage of the game. You are thrust into action, but instead of being given an actual chance, you must cross over an entire lot of platforms, where bubbles will pop up at random in an attempt to kill you. How do you dodge these bubbles, you ask? By jumping into the water and committing suicide.

Yes, the game can be that cheap at times. There are no way to destroy these bubbles, either; you must simply run across the platforms without getting hit by them. As stated, they come out with no pattern, so no skill is involved. This happens in a later stage in the game, as well, only you can actually destroy the enemies that come out. I hate to come off on a long rant inside of a review, but hey, what the hell else are they for, right? I feel as if this was a poor decision of the development’s part, and should have been corrected, especially considering the fact that Kid Niki dies in a single hit.

There are several “check points” along the way in each stage. You can tell where you are during a stage by examining the tiny meter in the lower right-hand corner of the HUD, where you will see eight separate points that are considered “check points” at around the fourth point. Obviously, the game is not that challenging, besides the whole “random bubbles/enemies” ordeal, as you are given unlimited continues. It’s just getting to the check-point in the whole “bubble hell” stage that proves to be a gigantic hassle in comparison to everything else in the game, possibly combined.

I often ponder how the hell I completed this game as a five-year old child, yet I had so much trouble with certain parts of the game as an adult, by law. The game is filled with annoyances, such as the ever-so-lovely glitchy enemies, whom are missing half of their bodies (the half that is nearest you, might I add), which will bump into you and destroy your character. Did I mention that you cannot even see these enemies due to this, and thus you do not know that they can kill you?

With all of the bickering aside, I feel as if the way that Kid Niki plays is partly genius. It uses the basic “original Mario Brothers” screen scrolling (screen disappears as you scroll), which I have always found annoying, but other than that, Kid Niki utilized certain gameplay elements quite well, especially the use of Kid Niki’s weaponry. I dunno what in the hell that thing is. Does anybody else? It looks like crossed billy-clubs or something. Regardless, I love the way you can battle in this game.

One of the more brilliant paths that the developers took was the old “disguise a regular enemy to look like a new enemy by giving him a different color and a few new traits and methods of attacking” gag. And yes, I am being completely honest here. I find that to be a cheap (and by cheap, I mean money-wise, but a way of ratting out of things) way of expanding the ol’ beastiary, and might I add that the traits actually do distinguish the enemies apart? Oh, yes they do!

Once all is said and done, and the smoke has cleared, we soon realize that Kid Niki, was indeed, a player hater. And by that, I mean a video game player hater, not the kind that will intentionally ruin a “thug” or “pimp’s” chance at doing the nasty with a sleazy woman. The game was poorly developed, which is somewhat sad in comparison to how great the awesome sequel was. Too bad that wasn’t even realized in the United States.

Graphics: 5.5
Yes, that low. Normally, I’m all for great NES graphics based on their time, however, Kid Niki was the type of game that was filled with too many glitches, even for back then in the mid-1980s. The colors are not that vibrant, and on some stages, they seriously almost gave me a headache while writing my FAQ/Walkthrough for the game. This is a definite sign that something is wrong, and it should have been fixed. After all, they should have at least TRIED to improve the port of this awesome arcade title before shipping it.

Sound: 7.0
Your basic “boop-beeps” and the like that made the Nintendo Entertainment System’s sound abilities cry once Mega Man 2 was released stateside. But you know what? It is nostalgic, and it isn’t THAT terrible in comparison to most of the old NES titles of its time. Good Lord, it sounds like the awkward music that was played at my cousin’s wedding with those “Reeeeeeecoooolaaaaaaa” type flutes and such. I’m quite petrified now, to be quite honest.

Gameplay: 7.0
I am confident that you will find Kid Niki to not only be quite solid in the controls and such, but also enjoy the way that the game handles as a whole. As stated in the actual review, I found Kid Niki to be one of the better-handling games on the NES in its hay-day. But, all good things must go sour, as the graphics helped bundle up the gameplay into a big cluster-ball of badness. Things can hit you out of nowhere, which is never a good thing, and the overall “challenge” of the game is just a mere slap in the face. Give me something that I at least KNOW I can accomplish, even if it is a little bit hard—-NOT something that is damn near impossible.

Enjoyment: 8.0
The highest rated category is Enjoyment, but that was easily predictable. Face it, you could take almost any game that you thought was awesome as a child, and play it today only to realize that it was no longer as grand as you once thought it was. This applies for practically every game known to man (well, maybe not with A Link To The Past or Chrono Trigger), and it will always stay that way. But being that this was one of my childhood favorites, I had a blast rolling down memory lane.

Overall (not an average): 7.0
Kid Niki is the type of game that you should definitely own in your video game library, if you are an old NES fan. Best thing of all is, you can find it practically anywhere for around three dollars, used. Between all of its flaws, with the cheap challenge system, as well as the graphical errors, the actual fun that you will have crossing over every bland area simply cannot be put into words. Regardless if you will like it or not, buy it. For Christ’s sake, it’s only three dollars!

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Community review by zoop (February 05, 2004)

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