Friday Flashback: Shadow of the Ninja (NES)
So my favorite ninja game on the NES is not the one that went on to have sequels and become a difficult action awesomeness. You know the one. No, my favorite Ninja game shares a lot with that other one but has a flavor and charm all its own. It also has 2 player co-op action! Let’s look at Shadow of the Ninja.
It was released in 1990 in the USA by Natsume for the Nintendo entertainment system and is one of my brother’s and I favorite 2 player game. It can be tough life carries over from one stage to the next, and in 2 player mode, you both share the same number of lives but over all, it is an awesome and fun game. So let’s get down to the game itself.
In the far off future of 2029, evil Garuda has conquered the USA and built a stronghold in the middle of the countries “largest” unnamed city. Two ninjas, Lord Hayate and Lady Kaede, are sent to infiltrate Garuda’s stronghold and stop him.Shadow of the Ninja!
In this one or two player game side-scroller, you can play as the Purple Hayate(guy ninja) or the orange Kaede(gal ninja) and take on the forces of Haruda in 5 levels over 16 Stages. There is no functional difference in the characters other than appearance, and in either one or two player game, the players can pick which one they want, with the other playing the other character.
Much like that other ninja game,in Shadow of the Ninja you can run, jump, climb on walls, slash things with your sword and pick up different weapons to fight your foes. Unlike the Ninja Gaid.. the OTHER ninja game, when you pick up a weapon in replaces your main weapon. You can also hold the attack button down to charge up and kill pretty much every regular enemy on the screen, but it takes about half your life-bar. If you pick up the same type of weapon more than once, it will power it up as well, which is pretty handy.
There are four different weapons, the katana you start with, a hook and chain weapon, shurikens and hand grenades. The shuriken and hand grenades have a limited amount of use before you return to using a katana, however.
You have just 5 lives in the game, and players share these lives so sometimes playing with your little sister or brother can be a liability if they keep dying and eat all your lives. That is why the cheat code A, A, A, A, B, B, B, B, A, B, A, B, A, B, A, B exists! Level skip, invincibility, and other things can be accessed with it.
The graphics in Shadow of the Ninja are decent enough, with some neat background effects and the character sprites, while not giant, are a good size and the screen never feels too constrained with the view distance. The sound works and does what is expected with decent sound effects but, like most NES games, the music is decent but not very notable. However, that Clang at the title screen I will always remember! *Dooooooowwwwp …Kashwing!*
The controls work well. The jumps grabs and climbing can take a bit to get used to, but I never felt like it was overly floaty or hard to land any of the platforming parts of the game. The weapon attacks are fast and responsive and overall, the game plays great.
This is one NES game I am always ready to play some two player action with. It controls well, looks good and is a super fun time to play. If you have never tried it, I would suggest it most highly!