When you see a game that looks and plays like The Ninja Warriors it's infuriating. If you consider the number of wasted arcade licences you see in any one year it's difficult to see how anyone can have an excuse for not turning in something of this quality. Not only is The Ninja Warriors a faithful conversion it's near perfect. The last time we said that was when we saw Silkworm. It should come as no surprise then that not only is the same company responsible, but the same prog- rammers are involved.
Back in May we picked out Silkworm as an early front runner for conversion of the year. With that feather tucked firmly in their caps Dutch coders Ronald Pieket Weeserik and John Croudy have been slaving over The Ninja Warriors attempting to go one better. It seems they have. Like Silkworm, The Ninja Warriors is hardly a big name arcade licence. It's probably better known for its three screen monitor set up rather than the originality of its gameplay. This is a sensible move on the part of The Sales Curve and one that pays dividends.
The Ninja Warriors is a pretty straightforward two player horizontal beat 'em up. It was a well-balanced challenge with some neat touches, but none as neat as those displayed in the conversion. Naturally the game has been compressed to fit on one monitor, but the graphics have been downloaded making it very pleasing to the eye. Despite the playing area being restricted to a narrow band the ninjas are still some six sprites in size, and they're beautifully animated, to the point where the female's hair bounces up and down when she jumps as if she was in a Silkience advert. One of the end of level guardians, the tank, has as many as seventeen different animation stops which makes the turret swing beautifully smoothly.
The technical achievements don't stop there. Whilst there are two disks everything loads in as you play until you have to swap (just the once) between levels. Nothing too radical about that until you realise it's loading in the sound for approaching sequences - and it's all sampled.
There's six levels, the largest being seventeen screens wide, which take you through streets, airfields, and interiors in pursuit of the pernial Boss character (who turns out to be a fat little wimp). The ninjas jump, flip, block blows and hack wickedly with knives. One minor problem is that it's too easy to waste the shuriken stars. They're limited in supply so it's all too easy to run out when you need them most - and need them you will because the armed soldiers and the hunch backed ground spiders sap your energy rapidly.
It's a pleasure to play another oriental beat 'em up when it's as polished as this.
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