Ninja Gaiden
Reviewed 5/24/00

One of the classic NES games I didn't get to experience until just recently is Ninja Gaiden. "How good could it possibly be?" I asked myself, could the series really be all it was cracked up to be? I still remember when I brought it home, I was dead tired and had been up all night, I thought I would play a little bit before I went to sleep, and so I put it in and played.... and played... and played, all the way until my natural need for sleep overthrew my yearning to play this game and I had to quit.

Ninja Gaiden is an instant classic, and I already have more nostalgic value for this game than some games I played years ago. At the center of the game is teenage Ryu Hyabusa, who is thrust into a dramatic quest to find his father and defeat the evil Jaquio soon after the game starts. But enough about the story (I always thought those cinema scenes were overrated), the true star of Ninja Gaiden is the gameplay. It combines fast action with pattern-based enemy attacks and comes out on top. Ryu can run, slash with his sword, and cling on to walls, as well as get an assortment of power-ups like invincibility and the ever-popular jump-n-slash. It reminds me a little of Castlevania in that you have a limited number or "ninja power", which goes up when you collect certain viles and goes down when you use a special weapon.

One strange thing is that you, basically, have unlimited lives. You start out with 3 lives, and when your lives run out you continue from the last part you made it to. Each of the 6 stages is split into 3 or 4 parts, numbered much like SMB (1-1, 1-2, 2-1, and so on). The only exception to the rule is stage 6, where if you die on any of the last bosses, you start back at part 6-1.

Ninja Gaiden is said to be one of the toughest games on the NES, but honestly, I didn't see it that way. The game has a moderate challenge up until level 6 where things are turned up a notch, but even then it's nothing you can't handle. I guess the difficulty would vary from player to player, if you're inclined towards action games then this shouldn't be too hard on you.

The graphics are nothing to speak of, they're really grainy and get in the way sometimes, but that shouldn't matter to you if you're an NES player. The music is alright, nothing classic though. As I said, the true star here is the gameplay, pure unadulterated hard-hitting fast-paced gameplay. It gives the game a really addictive edge. Why, just as I began to review this game I sat down to play a bit before I typed this up, and I got so into it I couldn't quit playing until I beat the game. It's that good.

Graphics 5
If Ninja Gaiden proves anything, it's that you don't need good graphics to make a good game
The graininess gets in the way of the play mechanics sometimes
Sound 7
Good tunes that give you something to listen to while you play, at least
It's really nothing to speak of IMO
Innovation 8
Not the first action side-scroller...
But it is the first to be done is this way
Gameplay 10
Did you read the review? What can I say that hasn't been said before?
Very addicting, fast paced action game
Replay Value 8
Lots of fun, hard to put down, gets tough towards the end
Once you memorize all of the enemy attack patterns, it's like playing the game the exact same way every time you play

92% Overall Score


Read my old review of Ninja Gaiden