Here comes Ninja Warriors, the great new flight sim from (No, it's not! Ed), er... the rather exciting football management game (Tell the truth, or you'll have to type in Input Output! Ed) (Oh no, anything but that!!) Okay, just when you thought you'd seen more ninja games than you could shake a shuriken at, here comes another!
Ninja Warriors is a horizontally scrolling chop-'em-up. The scenario isn't very original either, the usual stuff about evil dictatorships and two super-warriors, (robot ninjas in this case), pitched against all the tyrant's forces. Still, this one does come from The Sales Curve, the people who brought us the Megagame Silkworm. In it, your task is to hack through six levels of soldiers, big nasty robots, tanks, even fire-breathing punk types, to sort out the dictator himself. You're 'packing' two swords and a limited amount of shurikens. This stock is replenished by killing rifle grenade soldiers and certain other baddies so you'd be advised to use them sparingly. The problem is that you can't help involuntarily flinging them all over the shop as you somersault about! It's very tricky!
What made the Taito arcade game special was the fact that two players could simultaneously ninja their way over three monitors for ultra-wide-screen action. On the humble Speccy this effect has been 'reproduced' by reducing the screen area to a horizontal strip. It's a bit like watching a movie on TV that's been filmed in Cinemascope - you know, when the picture ends up with a black band at the top and bottom so it can all fit in. Still, I've seen worse! Also, in the arcades there are nice graphical touches when you get hit and start to look more and more robot-like with bits of metal exposed. Slashing baddies with your two short swords produces a bit of gore (not for those of a nervous disposition) and a body on the floor. Though these touches are retained in the 16-bit versions, they ain't in the 8-bit job. When a baddie is despatched, it initiates a routine more akin to someone being beamed up to the Starship Enterprise than 'popping his clogs'. Furthermore, I was only reminded that I was a robot by the nice 128K metallic sound when I took a hit.
The main part of the arcade that remains is the two player element, and this it reproduces admirably. The nicely animated huge tank sprites, interspersed on higher levels, are a disappointment though. "Three times hurray!" I cried when I saw them. "Now for some big explosions!" In fact, all that happens is that you chop the man in the turret a few times and then the tank trundles off! Overall then, not really a bad game, but just more samey stuff which doesn't make the most of its arcade original.
Maybe I couldn't expect more from the Speccy conversion of such a big arcade game, but for me it's a disappointing hack-'em-up scroller.