In the black-and- blue tradition of side-scrolling gang-beaters like Final Fight and Double Dragon, The Ninja Warriors struts out of the arcades and into the SNES. This bruising beat-em-up has plenty of style and enough substance, but it drops its guard slightly in the challenge department.
A mean little tyrant named Banglar has a once-great nation in his grip, but a determined band of underground freedom fighters is battling desperately to free their homeland. The aces up their sleeves are three untested androids, which have been programmed with the skills of ancient ninja warriors.
- Robots are susceptible only to rear attacks.
- When the rockets begin falling in Stage 1, watch for their shadows on the ground and move! The right edge of the screen is generally safe.
As you might surmise, the battlin' 'bots are the stars of the Ninja Warriors show. As with most Final Fight-style games, these hard-wired heroes come in three predictable sizes -- large, medium, and small. Ninja's big and slow, but he packs a powerful punch and nasty nunchakus. Kunoichi's a fast, fierce female with two hand-held daggers. Kumaitachi's all blades and business.
Cut and Waste
The Ninja Warriors borrows a little from fighting games by offering multiple controllable techniques and some defensive strategy. Each robowarrior has an imaginative assortment of 11 individual moves, and all three 'bots share a crouching block that you can turn into a too-cool escape jump. This block-and-flip counter helps set Warriors apart from one-dimensional, offense-only beat-em-ups.
- The long blade of Stage 2's Chainsaw Boss makes it hard to get close for an attack. Be prepared to leap over his charge, but jump onto him when he dips his blade. Throw henchmen into him from long range.
- Containers, Gas Tanks, and Computers sometimes hide Energy Pods.
- The yellow crate in the beginning of the Final Stage (just before you meet Banglar) contains a power-up that maxes your energy meter.
The moves require concentrated practice, but the controls handle all the moves, save one, with ease. The problematic move is called the Quick Cut, which is a great-looking, powerful "cut" but it isn't very quick. To pull it off you must press Y and Up simultaneously like a maniac, while the on-screen maniacs manhandle you.
Use your Warrior's formidable long-range Finishing Attack to cream crowds. It's especially effective if you attack from a crouch.
Warriors whips up a wicked workout, but the long-term challenge is strictly intermediate. The regular rats are an okay mix of the usual suspects -- knife-wielding troops and eye-patched punchers -- and a few unusual characters (monkey-men with metal claws and fire-breathers). The bosses are the best of the bad bunch, especially the impossibly tough bruiser twins and the crafty, invisible boss.
Banglar's gang fights dirty, and the final stage will put you in a murderous mood. However, fighting fanatics should blow this sucker out in a couple of full days... or take a refresher course at the Double Dragon Dojo. Unlimited continues give you more than a fighting chance.
- The Stage 1 Boss 'hot is susceptible to a high-low attack. Jump in to make him block high, then hold down Down and press Y repeatedly to tag him until he recovers.
- You can throw goons into other goons to hurt them, or you can be thrown, which damages them, too.
- Kumaitachi's the best all around 'bot.
If the challenge leaves you cool, the graphics and sound help this game earn a spot in your collection. The character sprites have style, and they look ultraclean. The animation is smooooooth!
As with most beat-em-ups, the combatants approach each other on a direct line, but at least they don't display the moony Moonwalk characteristic of most games in this league. Veteran creep- carvers will dig Kumaitachi's awesome-looking spinning scythe attack! The sounds play hard and work hard with plenty of grunts, groans, and body shots.
- A good escape/attack tactic is to jump over a guard and attack from the rear before he turns around. As you jump, hold down the directional control in the direction your victim is facing. For example, if you jump over someone standing to the right, hold down Left as you're in the air.
- Most bad guys are vulnerable below the belt.
- Kumaitachi's Tornado Finish spinning blade attack (which fires up when he hits someone four times from a standing position) also nails enemies behind him.
- When a boss goes down, all his bodyguards go down with him.
Ninjitsu for a New Age
Ninja Warriors is great, but it falls one difficulty level short of GREAT! It takes a lickin' and keeps on kickin' — booty! Not bad for a bunch of 'bots.