Adapted from the hit arcade game (and not the better-known Nintendo version and the better-known alternate name of Ninja Ryukenden), Ninja Gaiden for the PC is a good attempt at recreating the original's addictiveness that is somewhat disappointing due to extreme scaling down of many features that were in the arcade. |
The game tells the story of a young, modern-day ninja Ryu Hayabusa, who received an ominous note from his missing father. In it, Ryu's father instructs him to take the family sword (the Dragon Sword) and journey to the United States to see Walter Smith, one of his father's colleagues. Upon arrival in New York City, Ryu was ambushed by a gang and shot at by a beautiful girl. Sometime later, Ryu wakes up in a dark cell, whereupon he is visited by the same girl, who hands him a marble statue and tells him to escape. Dazed and confused, Ryu does as he is told...
The basic goal of the game, as with others of its ilk, is to defeat all of the assorted criminals and villians in a scrolling city landscape. Your only weapons are your fists, feet, and the occassional sword, while the villians have more weapons and many more friends to call for help. As the landscape scrolls by, you can walk and jump all over the terrain. One of the best things about the original Ninja Gaiden arcade is the variety of attacks and moves you can perform, and fortunately this facet is preserved intact in the PC version. Several non-traditional moves are possible, including swinging from overhanging poles, backwards jumps over walls, and amazing somersaults. Some obstacles along the way can be broken, by throwing someone into it, and will often reveal benefits such as extra health, lives, or a sword. For extra pressure, you must finish each level before an on-screen clock runs down.
The biggest gripe against most arcade conversions for PC is that they are present a scaled-down version of the arcade original. Sadly, Ninja Gaiden is no different from this common trend of the era: there is no improvement to speak of, and the wonderful soundtrack and fluid animations in the original are sorely missing (perhaps an unfair point, given that PCs at the time were much less of a gaming platform than arcade machines).. Only about half of the different types of villians from the original are present, though there is some variety to their attacks. Instead of a handsome, spry young ninja, Ryu is here a blocky, obese little guy with unconvincing panache. The game makes up for these deficencies by bringing on even more enemies than the arcade version did. The challenge thus comes in simply surviving a swarming attack, rather than reacting to a wide variety of opponents. This makes Ninja Gaiden challenging, though not exceedingly so. The biggest problem, though, is that the game is too short: only four levels from the arcade original are present, which will not be enough for many action fans. Overall, Ninja Gaiden is not a bad game; it's just that CAPCOM could have spent more effort in recreating the original game's appeal. For the arcade purist, Ninja Gaiden is a disappointment, but for an average action fan player looking for a solid game that combines an interesting plot, Oriental martial arts, and Western settings, it's worth a look. For those who want to play the game as it's meant to be played, though, the Nintendo question is undoubtedly the very best.
Reviewed by: Underdogs