Sunday 20 March 2016

Revenge of the Ninja (Mega CD / Sega CD review)

Developer: Telenet Japan, Wolf Team
Publisher: Renovation, Sega, Wolf Team
Released: 1994

Revenge of the Ninja is a Full Motion Video (FMV) game that was first released in the Arcades in 1984.

You play as a trainee ninja called Hayate and your mission is to defeat the evil wizard Lougi and rescue Princess Terri from the castle. It consists of 18 stages and instead of controlling the action directly you watch a movie and press buttons at the indicated time. It clearly takes inspiration from Dragon's Lair (1983, Arcades) especially the boss that traps you around a pillar and forces you to jump and duck to avoid being squashed by its gigantic claws. There's many fun moments such as the ride down the rapids where you dodge boulders and time your jump through gnashing teeth. Other highlights include an intense scene in a mechanical warehouse with its cogwheels and travelators, and a mid-air battle with a fire-breathing creature while you desperately hang onto a burning rope. The controls are very responsive throughout and the required button timings are fair, giving you a good chance to react. However, similar to Time Gal (1993, Mega CD) there is some trial and error due to multiple choice areas that only have one correct path. There's also the same issue of poor checkpoints after losing a life meaning you need to contend with an immediate input command with no real prior warning. While 18 stages sounds lengthy they're all very short so the game can be beaten in around 20 minutes. There's certainly limited replay value but at least the stages are randomised each time you play for a bit of variety. The FMV isn't full screen and while it does an adequate job of displaying the action the frame-rate is low. Some of the music tracks are good but unfortunately they repeat too often.
Revenge of the Ninja isn't the most inspired FMV game and takes too many cues from Dragon's Lair but it's well crafted with good stage design and solid controls. More stages would have been welcome but what's here is engaging and varied, making this one of the better examples of the genre on the Mega CD.
Random trivia: In 1997 the game was re-released in Japan (along with Time Gal) on both the PlayStation and Sega Saturn.

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