Review by Psycho Penguin

"Temco shoots... and scores!"

There have been a few series over the years that I have enjoyed a lot. Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior and Mega Man are just a few of the many video game series that I have enjoyed to play over the years. However, one of my favorite series over the years has been a series called Ninja Gaiden. A lot of people are fans of the series, but the series never seemed to get the popular recognition of the series I previously mentioned.

Regardless, the Ninja Gaiden series is still one of my favorite video game series, and definitely one of the most underrated (along with the Adventure Island series) video game series, in my opinion. I have enjoyed most of the video games released for the series, with the rare exception of a select couple. So, the series has definitely provided the player with consistently top-quality games.

The original Ninja Gaiden is a prime example of an engimatic game, in my opinion. I really enjoyed playing this game, although I did not enjoy playing it as much as I did the sequel, Ninja Gaiden 2 for the NES. And I did not enjoy the NES version of the game as much as the Arcade version. The arcade version was more like a Final Fight beat em up, while the NES version was more or less a stealth action-adventure game. So, I did not really like this game as much as some did, but I still did enjoy playing it.

The storyline in the game is good, and it is made even better with the fact that it was one of the most complicated and complex storylines ever made when it was first released way back in 1989. The basic storyline has the main character, Ryu, on a quest to rescue his girlfriend (what else is new?) but it is a lot more complicated than that. There is a lot of different elements, ranging from an evil empire to mysterious people. I really did enjoy the storyline in this game, and it is made even better by the fact that it is conveyed by cut scenes in between the acts of the game.

I really did like the graphics in this game. The graphics may appear to be outdated by today's standards, but they were way pimp back in the day. I really liked all of the elements of the graphics in the game, ranging from the enemy designs to the character designs to the backgrounds. The backgrounds were some of the best I have yet to see in a 1989 game, as they were very well detailed and very well varied. None of the backgrounds could be described as distracting, which is definitely a good thing.

The character designs in the game were great, although you could only see them during the various cut scenes of the game. Speaking of the cut scenes, the cut scenes in the game are simply awesome. Namco really did a great job with the cut scenes in the game, as they are well varied and very well detailed. I especially liked the soap box look of the cut scenes, as it just added to the whole movie look of the game. The cinematic cut scenes were revolutionary for its time, and they are definitely awesome.

The enemy designs in the game are top notch, as well. The enemy designs are well designed and well detailed, as well as having a great amount of variety to them. Have you ever encountered a game which has the same enemy design repeating itslef every few stages, only with different colors, etc.? Well, the same thing does occur in the game, but since the enemy designs are so good, you will hardly even notice (or care).

The music in the game is awesome, and it is definitely one of the better soundtracks I have heard on the NES. One of the best soundtracks on the NES, the music is well varied and is simply awesome. I liked the boss theme in the game a lot, as it is one of the most awesome boss themes I have ever heard. The music featured during the stages is top notch, as well. I have always known the Ninja Gaiden series as being a series featuring top notch music, so I am glad to report that the original Ninja Gaiden featured top notch music.

The only music I did not really like was the music featured during the various cut scenes of the game, it just appeared too much out of place. It did not have ther right feeling that I was expecting, to put it in other words. Otherwise, I really liked the music featured in this game, as I feel that Namco definitely did a great job with most of the music.

Sound effect wise, I definitely feel as if Ninja Gaiden is a mixed bag. On one hand, most of the sound effects in the game are pretty good, and the sound effects definitely sound pretty good. However, the lack of certain sound effects really is not comprehendible in my mind. How there is not a cool sound effect for when you fall off the ledge and die is beyond me. Sure, there is some good music that plays, but I would have rather preferred to hear a good sound effect. Regardless, the sound effects are still pretty good. I was just a little disappointed and let down, that's all.

The control in the game is definitely pretty good, although I did have some problems with it. I do feel as if it is difficult to make certain jumps in the game, and the control definitely does not help with this. However, I do feel that Namco did a solid job in implementing a control system that feels right, so for that I will say that I liked the control in the game and move onto the next section.

Ninja Gaiden is one of the most interesting games I have yet to play. I remember playing the Arcade version of the game a lot several years back, and I remember that the Arcade version was a Final Fight-type side scrolling beat em up. So, it was natural that I expected the NES version to be a Final Fight-type side scrolling beat em up as well, when I purchased it a year or so ago (from the FuncoLand in Manhattan Mall </cheap plug>).

However, I was surprised at first to see that the NES version was really nothing like the Arcade version of the game. First off, the side scrolling beat em up elements of the Arcade version have been done completely away with. Instead, the game now focuses more on stealth-like action adventure game elements. Climbing between walls, taking down enemies with your sword, and using strategy to defeat bosses is just some of the different elements of the game.

For those of you that have played the sequels to the game, you will see in this game that there is a few less than satisfactory elements. For instance, you cannot climb up any walls that do not have ladders. You can cling onto a wall, then jump to the next wall, but you can not move up and down the walls that do not have ladders. This takes a bit of getting used to for veterans of the other games of the series, because in the other games you can move up and down almost any wall.

You have to use some mind power in the game, as well. Although most of the game is focused on intense action and adventure elements, you do need to use your brain to defeat some bosses and get out of certain situations. For instance, in the stage that lights up and then gets dark, you can pause the game while the screen is lit up to check out the stage and what you have to do next. This is just one example of using your brain in this game.

This is a pretty addicting game, so of course I feel as if it does have good replay value. I may still enjoy playing the later games in the series to the original, but I still do like playing this game every so often. It may not be one of the top games that I play, but I do still play this game every once in a while. When I first got this game, I played it a lot, but now I do not play it as much as I used to. Regardless, the game has above average replay value when you first get the game.

This is a pretty challenging game, although it is not one of the most challenging games. Actually, scratch that, I do think that it is one of the most challenging games ever made. The stages are very complicated and filled with a lot of enemies. The flying bird enemy is one of the most annoying enemies I have ever encountered in a video game, and it definitely gave me problems during Act 3 Scene 1. This is definitely a challenging game, to say the least.

Overall, Ninja Gaiden is one of the most fun games I have played in a while, and it is definitely worth purchasing. The game may seem outdated, and the two sequels each hold advantages over the original, but that does not take away from the classic gaming experience known as Ninja Gaiden for the NES.

Good Points
-A classic soundtrack, one of the best I have heard on the NES.
-It is a pretty challenging game, which could be seen as a good point.
-The classic gameplay and good control of the game speaks for itself.
-The graphics in the game, especially the revolutionary cut scenes, are awesome.

Not So Good Points
-The two sequels are more enjoyable, in my opinion.
-The friggin flying bird enemy.
-The stage designs could have been better.
-The storyline could be a tad too complex.

I Run Down the Ratings... Da Ladies Man style!
Storyline - 8.3/10
Graphics - 9.1/10
Music and Sound Effects - 9.3/10
Control - 8.3/10
Gameplay - 7.8/10
Replay Value - A Little Above Average
Challenge - Way Above Average
Overall - 7.8/10

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Three Quick Questions and The Last Line
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Q: Is it worth buying?
A: Definitely.

Q: How would you rank the Ninja Gaiden NES series?
A: 2, 1, 3

Q: You like Part three more than the original, right?
A: No, I think part three is a tad more enjoyable, but it has some major flaws that cut down the experience.

The Last Line
This is a classic game in a classic series, and is well worth a purchase.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/14/00, Updated 07/16/01


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