The Ninja Warriors series
   

 

 

The Ninja Warriors

Players: 1
About: Single-plane beat'em-up
Courtesy of: Natsume
Back in: 1994
Originally on: SNES
Also on: N/A

 
 
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Reading online reviews for the SNES' "The Ninja Warriors" (subtitled "Again" in Japan) might get you a little bit confused about the title's origin. Half these reviews state it's a sequel, and although it's very easy to "accidentally" skip the intro and start playing, if you pay attention to it you'll realize it's the same plot and story, and therefore a remake. In fact, the game looks and feels so different from the arcade you could very easily own this cart thinking it was a sequel all along. That's how much Taito's ninjas have evolved.
Speaking of Taito, they are nowhere to be found. Beat'em ups were big on the SNES at the time and Natsume decided to pick up the license, completely redesigning the game from scratch.
This radical overhaul has, however, two very important flaws. First, just like it happened to the ports of "Final Fight" and "Undercover Cops", the 2-player mode is now gone. Secondly, Ninja Warriors kept its most unnecessary but defining characteristic: its single-plane, two-dimensional movement. Most likely a homage to the original arcade, this outdated "feature" is totally out of place considering "Double Dragon" eliminated it back in 1988, and series like "Final Fight" and "Rushing Beat" are these ninjas direct competitors on Nintendo's console.
If you are not familiar with Ninja Warriors' history when you play it for the first time, it will feel very odd. As if the developers forgot to include the three-dimensional movement that is standard in the genre.

Japanese cover

Needless to say, this remake plays at a more acceptable, faster speed than Taito's original. The stiffness is gone, and the ninjas are now agile skilled fighters that pull out acrobatic moves and combos that look much cooler than just slicing enemy after enemy with the same move.
These ninjas are now differentiated by their weight, speed and power. Both previous characters are still available, but they look and play nothing like the arcade's. "Ninja" is now the heaviest and slowest but most powerful; "Kunoichi" is the all-round versatile fighter; and a third cyborg, "Kamaitachi", is a new option that is lightning fast but the weakest at the same time.
Each of them controls radically different than the next one (sometimes right down to the buttons' functions), which effectively prolongs the game's replay value.
Shurikens are not a weapon anymore, but instead our ninjas have gained a "Blaster" attack that hits everything on the screen. Just wait for the gauge to fill up automatically to use it.
Also new is a wide arrange of moves that require certain button and D-pad combinations plus a "Blaster". This makes each character so unique and interesting that it's hard not to
like them all, when in most beat'em ups you would usually pick a character and stick to it.

 

 

 

   
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
Ninja repertoire:
 
 
Pummel: Grab, then press Down + Attack
Spinning Grab: Grab, then press Up + Attack
Spinning Jet Attack: Jump, then press Attack (pressing Left or Right directs it)
Dashing Kick: press Forward + Jump, then press Attack
Dashing Elbow: press Forward + Jump (automatically hits enemy)
 
 
 
 
Stomp: press Down + Jump
Block: hold Block
Dodge: hold Block and press Jump (Left or Right directs it)
Blaster Combo Finish: press Up + Attack at the end of a combo (Blaster bar must be full)
 
   
 
Pummel: Grab, then press Down + Attack
Overhead Throw: Grab, then press Up + Attack
Sword Attack: Jump, then press Attack
Flying Kick: Jump forward or back, then press Attack. As you are hitting, you can press the opposite direction and Attack again to bounce off and keep hitting enemies infinitely.
 
 
 
Kunai Dash: press Down + Jump
Block: hold Block
Dodge: hold Block and press Jump (Left or Right directs it)
Blaster Combo Finish: press Up + Attack at the end of a combo (Blaster bar must be full)
 
   
 
 
Pummel: stand close, then press Forward + Attack
Overhead Throw: stand close, then press Up + Attack
Air Attack: jump forward and press Attack
Drop Kick: stand close and press Down + Attack
Spinning Air Attack: jump, then press Attack
 
 
 
 
Kick: press Down + Jump
Block: hold Block
Dodge: hold Block and press Jump (Left or Right directs it)
Blaster Combo Finish: press Up + Attack at the end of a combo (Blaster bar must be full)
 
 
 
 

Since you can't move up or down to avoid your enemies, learning as much of these special attacks as you can is crucial. Figuring out and practicing them can be a lot of fun, and by the time you have mastered all of them, swiftly dispatching Banglar's army is much easier and fun.But the game has some flaws too. The stages are very linear and their scenes bland and boring. Only a few objects interrupt the monotony every now and then, like motorcycles and crates that can be picked up and thrown. Other distractions include industrial-size fans, incoming missiles and a shooting helicopter as obstacles; and breakable objects in the background add some variety as well. Still, they are so few and far inbetween that are not enough to liven up the stages.
Stage bosses leave a lot to be desired too. Their attack patterns can be as simple as regular enemies', and their animation too. They just lack the WOW factor most SNES' bosses are known for, and end up looking more like strong enemies.

Japanese title screen
The Ninja Warriors, subtitled "Again" in japan.

If you are familiar with "Wild Guns'" excellent graphic style, you'll recognize it here too. Some objects and backgrounds seem taken right out of it, although levels are uninspiring, dull mixes of metal and concrete.
Sprites, on the other hand, are vibrantly colored and contrast nicely. And while the enemies' animation is nothing special, the ninjas' is quite good even though they no longer lose their artificial skin and garments when damaged. This time you'll only catch a glimpse of their metal skeletons in their cool exploding animation. The ninjas' design, as you can see, is really cool.
The sound department wasn't as lucky. Natsume had an awesome soundtrack for its SNES title "Wild Guns", but this one fits right in between "Ok" and "mediocre". You'll barely notice it exists, and at least it's not annoying. Taito's Zuntata team must have had a grin on their face when they heard it for the first time.
Fitting in the category of "horrible" are the few, repetitive and bad sound effects. By the end of the game, both the annoying sound of enemies hitting the ground and their commonly shared dying groan will be so permanently engraved in your brain you'll believe that's how people sound when they drop dead in real life.

Naked thighs & monkey-men...
The Ninja Warriors Again ( japanese version)
The Ninja Warriors (american version)
 

This cart had a worldwide release. The japanese version, subtitled "Again", is the less censored one as is often the case. It includes the infamous "green blood" and naked thigh ninja-girl enemies.
The european version was published by Titus, and is surprisingly slower and a lot more easy than the others. Besides that, it's identical to the american: No green or red blood, and the ninja-girls have been replaced by cute pink monkey men. After all, to each his own fetiche.

Except for its mediocre sound, boring bosses and bland backgrounds, Natsume did a good job improving everything that made the original cool. Once you get used to its single-plane nature, the ninja variety and their wide arsenal of moves will keep it fresh for a play-thru or two. But after that, this is the type of game you won't be coming back to for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
 
 
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors SNES
 
The Ninja Warriors Again Super Famicom
   
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