Review by The Ragnarok

"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the one, the only, review for Ninja Crusaders!!!"

Well.. I owe a lot to this game. Before I played Mario, Zelda, or any regular NES game you can think of, I played Ninja Crusaders. My very first game, and it practically raped me out of my gaming virginity. An extremely awesome platform Ninja game which was most likely drowned out by a more popular mammoth of a game called Ninja Gaiden. However, in my opinion, NC far surpasses Ninja Gaiden in every aspect, well.. almost.

''One day, a mysterious intruder came from beyond and attacked the world..''
Ahh.. my dearly beloved Ninja Crusaders. How fond I remember thee. Now.. where can I begin? Well.. I'll start by saying that in the good ol' days of NES, games were challenging. And no game proves that more than NC, which at times, can be ludicrously difficult, and nearly impossible. But even so, I love this game, and if I have to do so single-handedly, I will give it the publicity it rightfully deserves...

''Ninjas rose from the shadows and battled the alien invaders...''
Now.. first off, I'll remind you all that this game came out in 1990, and the graphics will not impress you in the age of 128 bit consoles and FMV's. The graphics are slightly less impressive than Ninja Gaiden, in some areas. But in others, it surpasses it, such as it's nice special effects and flashes. The sprites are fairly small, but there's a large variety of them. Color schemes differ to determine how strong an enemy is (Green - 2, Red - 4, White - 1, and so forth). There's a great deal of detail in the stages. Semi-collapsed buildings may have rubble spread across entire lengths of the stages, and in more tropical stages, vines and even birds in the backgrounds may catch your eye.

Sound effects on the other hand, are fairly average for Nintendo's standards. Not quite the variety of Ninja Gaiden's, but still, they hold their own, and are a bit more crisp and defined, not fuzzy.

The myriad of tunes which spans the many stages is quite catchy and keeps up with the pace of the action well. They don't loop every 15 seconds like most NES games.

''It was decided that two Ninjas, Talon and Blade, would be sent to destroy the evil wraiths..''
This is where NC really differs from Ninja Gaiden. You don't run around hitting item holders and getting new abilities, instead, you're limited to four different types of weapons separated randomly throughout the stages. Your default is long range Shurikens. There's also a Chain and Cycle, a Rod, and a Katana blade. All of the weapons do the same amount of damage, so why bother picking others up you ask?

This is where NC gets really cool. You can hold the attack button, and after several seconds, your character will transform into a certain animal depending on their weapon. Shurikens hence forth brings a tiger (Genbu), whom is much quicker, but lacks a ranged attack. A Chain and Cycle wields a scorpion (Hiryu), which is terribly slow, but has long range. Using the Rod will grant you the form of a falcon (Suzaku), who cannot attack at all, but in turn, can fly out of harm's way. And finally, the rare Katana will submit the dragon (Seiryu), who's fire breath can destroy absolutely EVERYTHING in a single hit, including bosses. But as a sacrifice, you will lose the Katana after transformation.

Even though you can transform into animals, they still might not be able to save your sorry ass, for unlike Ninja Gaiden, you only have one mere hit until total destruction, thus starting the stage all over again. Fortunately, you have an unlimited amount of continues.

Not only is NC challenging, but it's also very fun, especially since it can be played with two players, a feature which is not included in Ninja Gaiden. This is possibly what makes NC great, it makes a good party game.

''In memoriam...''
Unfortunately, Ninja Crusaders, although legendary, is dated and old, and may no longer impress those who have seen the digital, computer generated, polygonal, and pre-rendered empire of Playstation and it's competitors. But I still play, and love NC, and I always will. Forever will you be cherished in my eyes, my very first love..

Overall Scores:
Graphics - 5
Sound - 5
Music - 8
Plot - 7
Gameplay - 10
Replay - 9
Overall - 8

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/27/01, Updated 03/27/01

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