The Ninja on the Master System – part of its budget range when it was released and it’s not hard to see why, there’s only half a game here! Less game means a shorter review I suppose…
The princess has been kidnapped (oh no!) but we have a ninja who can save her (hooray!). Sound familiar? Kazamaru isn’t what you’d call an expert ninja, having only measly throwing knifes to his name. But fear not! Scrolls can be obtained to enhance his abilities, adding speed, throwing stars that cut through all and a vanishing act even Houdini would be impressed with. The action is mostly up-scrolling, top-down “shoot em up” (no melee weapon combat) with the odd change-up (rock climbing, rock dodging etc…). It works reasonably well.
The graphics are basic with only some of the ninja sprites utilising what the 8-bit is capable of. Backdrops are bland on the whole and are used a few times over. They’re also poorly detailed. The sound effects are minimal – i counted two – a bloop and a ting, see if you can beat that! Every level plays the same tune over and over which only fades when you meet the end of level boss and then the same boss music plays. It feels like it was made in two weeks.
How does it play? I’ve played a lot worse, let’s put it that way. Enemy spawns never vary and the same attack patterns are used again and again. The further you get into the game, the quicker the enemies get, that is it. There are twelve levels but each is equivalent to about a third of what a level should comprise. As soon as you obtain the shurikens and disappear ability, the game becomes extremely easy to complete. You’ll meet the same boss for the first 8 levels with slight difference in weapons. He’ll turn red when you beat him and you don’t even get to see him die. Thanks a lot Sega. Neither does the later boss with the guns (seriously?) who is also way too easy to kill.
The levels that innovate are also way too short. It’s as if The Ninja was a testing ground for something much bigger which Sega then realised they could make a quick buck off (please, don’t let me be right). It took me longer to write this than to complete the game. A two player (not simultaneous) mode exists but I’ve found no reason why you’d want to inflict this on a chum. If you like basic shoot em ups that are over too soon then The Ninja is right up your street. Damn, that tune is still in my head!