Time to continue with 8-bit Ninja month! *GONG* However, I want to change the subject slightly to talk about the Wii Virtual console. I’ve talked before about how western gamers are now getting the chance to experience formerly Japan exclusive games for the first time. That being said, there are still some games released in North America that are very rare, and this would be an easy way to let gamers play them. Again, I appreciate being able to play Final Soldier, but I would definitely buy a Wii Points card just to play Knuckles Chaotix, Earthbound or EVO the search for Eden. Today’s game is on the Virtual Console, but was not a highly requested, popular or exclusive game to my knowledge. Out of curiosity, I bought it from another seller when I found a physical copy. The question I wanted to answer myself was “is this game good enough to be ported on the Wii Virtual Console before the other titles I mentioned”? Let’s find out in this review of Shadow of the Ninja for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game is your typical platforming, sword slashing deal, but less chaotic than Ninja Gaiden. Movement in this game can be slower and a lot more calculated (like Batman NES in some ways). One of your skills is to be able to hang from the bottom of certain platforms. This not only creates some cool platforming moments, but helps out when facing certain kinds of enemies. You also have a special attack that you can use to clear off most of the screen, but it uses up like half your health (and doesn’t even look all that epic). One thing I really enjoyed though was that there are two weapons you can use: your default weapon is a sword, but you can find and use a *said slowly* ku-sa-ri-ga-ma (or “chain-whip-with-blade-thing” as I call it). (There are other weapons like throwing stars, but they’re limited to how often you can use them.) Though the kuasr- kasha- kusar-… Though the second weapon has a longer range, the reason I like it better is because you can whip it in 5 direction (anything that isn’t downwards), but this comes at the cost of not hitting enemies too close to you.
Those little extra hits can be costly, as you only have 5 continues to deal with. I find the game is still relatively easy though, and it doesn’t employ cheap tricks to take your life (like instantly dying if you fall down a pit). The game can seem short for this reason (you might not get the game play time from restarting again and again like in Ninja Gaiden). But if you are having problems, you can get a second player to help simultaneously. One player will be the male ninja and the other will be a female ninja (whose names I won’t even try to pronounce). According to Nintendo Power, this was the first male-and-female team up in video games. Ninja games just keep getting more awesome.
The story starts up 17 years from now (the year 2029) where somehow it seems the USA has become a dictatorship under the rule of Emperor Garuda. Since he actually seems to be worse than the Bush administration, the two previously mentioned Ninjas are sent to the nation’s largest city to assassinate him, stop his reign and avenge the innocent lives he’s taken. I really like this story; it’s basic, a little cheesy and cliché and opens the door for a lot of action (a perfect B movie plot if you will). And I have to say this: I think future Ninjas rock. Don’t get me wrong, sword clashing stories from feudal Japan are cool, but when someone is taking down future weapons with just a sword and some throwing stars, that is just bad ass.Shadow of the Ninja surprised me: it’s not just good, it is REALLY good. Even on the technical side, though the characters are bigger than Ninja Gaiden’s, they really make it work in a very smooth way. It’s not as blood pumping or memorable as Ninja Gaiden, but it’s a really well made platforming title from Natsume. And if you think it’s unfair to compare this game so much to Ninja Gaiden, it really isn’t; when it came time to port this game to the Game Boy, the publishing rights were bought by Tecmo who made the Game Boy version a Ninja Gaiden spin-off called “Ninja Gaiden Shadow”. But I digress. My only really “complaint” about Shadow of the Ninja is the convoluted start up screen, where you see the game’s title, but have to wait for the cinematic to start for some reason, press SELECT and then you can start playing. Still, this is nothing to ruin the game for me. Though I still want Kunckles Chaotix, Earthbound and EVO on the Wii Virtual Console, this is a great title for only 500 points. I give Shadow of the Ninja for the NES 8 levels out of 10.