By Justin Guillou / November 4th, 2019
|Title||The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors|
|Developer||NatsumiAtari, The Tengo Project|
|Release Date||October 15th, 2019|
|Genre||Beat ’em up|
|Platform||PC, PS4, Switch|
|Age Rating||T for Teen|
The Ninja Saviors is the latest release in Taito’s classic Ninja Warriors series. Originally launching in arcades, The Ninja Warriors was a simple yet addicting single plane beat ’em up where you play as an android disguised as a ninja and your goal is to assassinate a corrupt president. The original game is available on the eShop in case you are curious about it. In 1994, Natsume Atari made a sequel called The Ninja Warriors. This game added an extra character, along with new moves and was an overall more polished and faster experience. This brings us to 2019 with this latest entry.
Ninja Saviors, like Wild Guns Reloaded before it, is both an enhanced port and also a full on re-imagining of the cult classic Super Nintendo title. The story is mostly the same as you are sent by an individual known as “Daddy Mulk” on a mission to go assassinate an evil president. This means traveling through 7 stages filled with all sorts of soldiers, ninjas and robots for you to beat up. You start off with three characters and each controls a bit differently. The Ninja is slower but also stronger and while he is unable to jump, he has a jetpack that can allow him to either dash forward or temporarily hover. Kamaitachi has very fast attacks but does not have as much stamina. Kunoichi is somewhere in the middle but her attack range is rather short. Unlike many other beat ’em ups, you actually have the ability to block and backstep or backflip which, as you may guess, is incredibly useful. Your characters, despite some of their limitations, are surprisingly acrobatic and each have multiple ways of dealing with the hordes of enemies the game throws at you even outside of their normal attack cycle. There is a meter on the bottom that gradually fills up and will be depleted if you are attacked. Should you manage to fill it up completely, you can unleash a screen clearing bomb attack that will damage everything on screen. It’s very useful for crowd control, however you will need to be careful and avoid damage as it is filling up.
New to this game are some additional moves that can be performed by using a portion of the meter. These moves not only are very useful, but can be used to combo and juggle enemies giving Ninja Saviors a much appreciated sense of depth and variety that was lacking from the previous games. The levels occasionally will give you some sort of object you can throw at enemies but honestly, it’s more fun to pick up enemies and throw them across the screen. Throwing is a big part of the game because since you are limited to only one plane, you kind of have to make use of everything you have to ensure that you are not surrounded on both sides. That creates a neat element of risk vs reward in how you approach every single enemy. Should you just take them out normally, or pummel them a bit and try and throw them towards any approaching enemies? This kind of decision making may seem arbitrary but it does a surprisingly good job at keeping each encounter fresh and interesting.
While I’ve heard some people describe The Ninja Warriors and The Ninja Saviors as easy playthroughs, I kind of disagree with that. The game can get quite challenging and I’ll admit, I just barely got by some of the boss fights. That said, many of them do have a pattern and the more you play the game, the more you will discover effective ways of dealing with them. You have one life and otherwise it’s a game over. Thankfully, you have unlimited continues and the game is fairly generous with life ups and checkpoints. Graphically the game is stunning. Like Wild Guns Reloaded, Tengo Project took nearly every old sprite from the SNES game and made them bigger and more defined. Your characters have a lot more frames of animation, it’s really a sight to behold in motion. Just about every frame of this game could make for a great action-packed wallpaper. The music features remixes of the SNES game’s OST but also gives you the option to unlock music from the original arcade game including the fan favorite “Daddy Mulk”.
Speaking of unlockables, completing the game once will give you a new character Yaksha. She is a short ninja with extendable arms that can attack enemies from afar and also slam them into the ground. She can also use her arms to propel herself in a direction rather quickly. She is easily my favorite character in the game because using her arms to send enemies flying all over the place is so damn satisfying. If you complete the game again, you will unlock Raiden who is a giant and slow mech. While I can appreciate the variety in gameplay, the big drawback with him is that he is a big target, which means he can take damage very easily. Another big addition to this game is two player co-op. But just like in Wild Guns Reloaded, the team at Tengo Project have made local multiplayer a lot more difficult and less accessible than it really should have been. You share life bars and the special meter which in my opinion is a huge mistake. I understand that having two ninjas makes it possible for you to steamroll through the game, but it’s not fair that both players need to be punished if one player isn’t as skilled as the other and takes more damage, basically ruining it for everyone. It’s not quite as punishing as it is in Wild Guns Reloaded where not only do you share lives but you are not allowed to continue, but still I think two life bars would have made the experience a lot more comfortable.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors will cost you $19.99 digitally and $29.99 for a physical copy. That’s a great price point for this kind of game. It’s short but loads of fun and there is plenty of challenge including a harder difficulty mode to keep you coming back for more. Each character also feels different enough that you will be compelled to try out as many as you can. What is nice is that when you lose a life and continue, you can change characters. So if you have trouble with one, you don’t have to fully commit to using them. There are also Time Attack modes and Online Rankings for those of you who like to speedrun and compete for the best time. All in all this is a nice package that fans of the original game or the SNES sequel will not want to miss. As for everyone else, this is a game well worth trying out.
Review copy provided by the publisher
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