Tuesday 29 July 2014

Ninja (Atari 8-bit review)

Developer: Sculptured Software
Publisher: Mastertronic
Released: 1986

Your mission in Ninja is to travel through the Palace of Death, collect the seven idols and return back to the opening screen.

This won't be an easy task though as the Palace is swarming with thugs and evil ninjas! The controls work surprisingly well given the large move-set that is available to you - by pressing anywhere on the d-pad while holding fire your ninja can execute attacks such as punches, flying kicks, and sword slashes. When you start the game, you are automatically equipped with a Samurai sword, but you can pick up spinning death-stars and throwing daggers along the way (up to three of any combination at once). Idols are randomly scattered around and each one will refill your health meter. Once you've collected the sixth idol you can then enter Akuma's Chamber which is located on the top floor. This holds the seventh idol but it's guarded by a swarm of enemies, although only two are active at one time. Grab this idol and head back to the start to complete the game. The music in the Atari version is much better than the C64 version in my opinion. The oriental theme that plays throughout the game fits perfectly with the lush, varied visuals. There's not much in the way of sound effects but the atmosphere is still fantastic. The only real downside to Ninja is that once you've mastered the game it becomes incredibly easy to complete it in around five minutes. However, the seven idols are randomly scattered around the Palace each time you play which helps to increase replayability. It's also a lot of fun kicking thugs in the face until they disappear, leaving only their clothing on the ground...what on earth happens to their bodies?!

Overall, this is one of the best Atari 8-bit games you'll find, and it's perfect for a quick gaming session.

Random trivia: The screenshots on the back of the Ninja cassette show a room that didn't actually make it into the game! Click on picture 5 on the Atarimania website and look in the bottom-right.

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