WildKard’s recent entry for Little Ninja Brothers reminded me that I wanted to scan my list of NES games yet to be entered into MobyGames and finish entering all NES ninja games. That is, all NES games with ‘ninja’ in the title. It turns out that we’re down to 2 now: Ninja Kid and Ninja Crusaders.
In Ninja Kid, you play a character who is ostensibly a ninja, though the game’s title is the only real evidence of that. He runs, he jumps, and he shoots. Presumably, he shoots magic ninja bullets. Whatever it is, it doesn’t seem very ninja-like. He doesn’t even wear a ninja mask, though I recognize that’s not a hard and fast ninja requirement. Some of his enemies in this game are the more traditional ninjas who wear masks and throw ninja stars. Ninja stars are among the powerups in this game, along with boomerangs and fireballs. They’re all more becoming of a ninja than the default ninja bullets.
This ninja kid is also a little wuss. One hit and he dies. Yeah, it’s one of those games.
I am trying to figure this game out. There is not much to go on in the way of in-game clues. I suppose I could dig up the old instruction manual using the internet. But a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. From what I can surmise, Ninja Kid has to travel to a series of locations on an overhead map (that shift around with every game). The process for completing an area is a bit fuzzy. It seems that you have to find a way to open a door which may lead back outside, or to a boss battle. Just battling your way to the right isn’t enough, and the levels likely go on forever. That means that my strategy, illustrated above, of just laying low in the water where there were almost no threats, probably wouldn’t pay off in the long run. I still played Ninja Kid quite a bit longer than I strictly needed to out of a strange determination just to figure out what on earth was going on!
I still can’t get over the whole shooting ninja thing. I wager the best explanation for this is that the game came out in 1986, very early in the NES’s life, and “that’s just the way things were done back then.” Sort of like the way crates figured prominently into early 3D games.
On to Ninja Crusaders, which is a 1990 title and a good deal more competent than the previous ninja game. However, it shares one unfortunate feature: one hit, no more ninja. This was always the ultimate aggravation in classic NES games.
Aliens — apparently mechanized ones — invaded the earth and annihilated much of humanity. Some ninjas survived and eventually decide to file a complaint with the new management, as only ninjas can. Ninja Crusaders is a 2-player simultaneous game with some very nice, post-apocalyptic cityscape graphics.
A ninja begins the game with a magically unlimited supply of ninja stars. They’re weak but have a screen-width range. Other, more powerful weapons are available but naturally have less range. Such weapons include a sword, a bo staff, and… a chain whip? A maskless ninja is passable, fine; but I just can’t get past the idea of a ninja with a chain whip, as demonstrated here:
I mostly stuck to the ninja stars because I preferred being far, far away from the lethal enemies while battling them. However, when I made it to the first boss, whose attack pattern involves getting all up in your face, I found myself longing for a more powerful short-range offensive option.
I thought this game was teaching me a new word:
until I looked it up and found no such word as “graue”. Perhaps they meant “grave”, but that’s certainly not the font character for ‘v’.