Ninja Master

by Tron Software
Firebird Software Ltd
Crash Issue 30, Jul 1986   page(s) 23

Producer: Firebird
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Tron Software

I f you've ever wondered how Ninjas become Ninjas then playing this game might give you the answer you've been searching for. Apparently it's all sorted out in a kind of Ninja Olympic Games. After many months of preparation, learning various skills from your Hanshi, it is time to compete in the great contest that decides whether you deserve to hold the title Ninja Master after all.

The game contains four levels, and you are called upon to demonstrate a different oriental skill in each one. The first section is set in front of snow capped mountains. Deadly pointed arrows are shot at you from random directions and they have to be deflected away from your body. Four movements are involved: kicks and punches to both the left and right. Intercepting arrows wins points and a score of over 1500 is needed to progress on to the next level. When an arrow lands on the Ninja's body he utters a blood-curdling yell, but a successful deflection is greeted with a war cry.

The second part of the contest takes place in indoor arena where a sturdy piece of wood has to be karate chopped in two. You have twenty seconds to build up your strength by pounding away at the keyboard, trying to move the status arrow as far along the strength chart as possible. After twenty seconds the Ninja automatically lets fly with his fist and tries to cut the block in two. Three attempts are allowed on this stage, and at least one bit of wood has to be broken to qualify for the third round. A successful performance is rewarded by enthusiastic applause from the Japanese audience.

The third level of the tournament has a slightly cosmopolitan feel to it - the action takes place on the banks of the Nile, in the shadow of the Great Pyramids. Equipped with a pointy stick, the Ninja has to fend off Shuriken Stars. The stars are fired randomly and at great speed, and your Ninja must stop them from embedding themselves in his body by blocking them with his stick. Again, three attempts are offered and a qualifying score of 1200 pints is needed before you can continue.

Ninjadom is just around the corner if you get to the last section. Canisters thrown from the right of the screen have to be shot down with a blowpipe. The backdrop is back to a more traditional Japanese style with a huge red moon hanging in the night sky and snow lying on the ground. When the required score has been achieved you graduate to a yellow belt. From here onwards the game cycles round again, except the qualifying scores are much higher.


Control keys: redefinable, multiple moves
Joystick: no
Keyboard play: a bit tricky
Use of colour fine
Graphics: quite well animated, pretty backdrops
Sound: nice title tune and screeches
Skill levels: one
Screens: 4

Gosh, an original idea for a sports simulation. It's been a while since a joystick waggling game ventured onto the humble Spectrum; I must say that it is quite good as well. The graphics are thirty good although not outstanding: your character is a little jerky, but he doesn't move into any unrealistic positions. The sound isn't excellent but the screams are good! As for playability, well it's quite good fun for your first few goes but its appeal diminishes a little after you've completed your first set of four screens.

Not exactly a new idea, but at the budget price it's a new venture, and I'm sure there'll be a few takers. The graphics are very similar to that of Sai Combat and the whole game is more of a bash and smash Hyper Sports. The sound is very realistic and it includes a good use of 'eegh!'and 'aghh!'speech effects. I wouldn't say there is anything terribly original in it, but I found the game very compelling to play. Firebird have released it at the right price, and it would give you good value for money. But if you've got a fight game then forget it.

Not another label relaunch Firebird! Oh well, though it hasn't got amazing graphics, Ninja Master itself is quite fun. The sound, if the frenzied cries of a pained Ninja can be defined as sound, is quite realistic as far as the limitations of the Spectrum will allow. I didn't play it for all that long, but for £1.99, it should provide a few hours entertainment, I suppose. I wouldn't buy it, but then there are those who like this sort of thing, and it might well appeal to them.

Use of Computer: 65%
Graphics: 63%
Playability: 60%
Getting Started: 68%
Addictive Qualities: 63%
Value for Money: 72%
Overall: 64%

Summary: General Rating: A different kind of sports simulation that should prove quite appealing.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 8, Aug 1986   page(s) 68,69


Look out, the Ninjas are a-coming to get you. And they're a nasty lot, what with all the in-breeding in the ancient land of the rising sun. Well not quite because this martial artser is different from most.

It's so budget that you don't even get to fight anybody. What you have to do is belt up the ranks to the ultimate of Ninja Master by passing a four stage test, over and over again.

And the tests are nasty. You stand alone, feet nailed to the floor while they shoot arrows at you. Kick and punch 'em away (hardens the skin you know). Next, do a DT Decathlon to break a log and your keyboard in half. Bat spinning stars away with your sword and bop things with your blow-pipe.

All good clean repetitive stuff if you like this sort of thing. Bit like me and driving tests really. On second thoughts, if you do like this sort of thing, you can find a free game with a lot more to it. Free Hex Loader winning tip: take your joystick interface off to make it work.

Graphics: 4/10
Playability: 4/10
Value for Money: 3/10
Addictiveness: 1/10
Overall: 3/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 53, Aug 1986   page(s) 46,47


Rock bottom - £1.99. It seems there is a simple rule governing software pricing policy - if it doesn't cost £9.99 then it must cost £1.99. Now this is jolly simple for software distributors and retailers who find the fact that most software is one of two possible prices easy on their accountant's brains but it means this: software which costs £9.99 is either really fab or involves a licencing deal so expensive that the software firm needs the margins.

Software which costs £1.99 is... well... rapidly becoming almost everything else. From the titles reviewed here it's clear that £1.99 will buy you some of the most awful and some of the most awesome programs ever devised...

Label: Firebird
Author: Tron
Price: £1.99
Joystick: Various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Sounds like a martial arts game doesn't it? it is, but not in the way you probably think. Ninja Master is not a two-player, bash the brains out, oriental kick and punch, like Sai Combat as the screen shots on the insert make clear. In this game you are the lone ninja. The game is no more than four reaction tests.

Graphics are very simple indeed, flat single-colour backgrounds depicting such anachronistic settings as a sports arena (complete with ads for Coca-Cola and Sinclair) and the Egyptian desert, complete with small pyramid and bizarre looking sphinx.

The ninja himself is not badly designed but hopelessly animated. In the first section, where he has to kick or punch away a series of arrows coming from different directions at different speeds, his arms and legs shoot off at right-angles from the rest of his torso as though independently motivated. Slick it isn't.

The real problem with the game, however, is that it is very easy. On my first attempt I scored sufficiently highly to pass through three of the four levels. Level One is arrow bashing; Two is a sort of mini Track and Field, except that you stab at alternative keys to build up enough power to smash through a log; Level Three is 'probably the hardest level' and has you smashing ninja stars with your sword. Level 4 is just like a duck shoot, your ninja tries to shoot down tossed cannisters with a blow pipe. Whatever minimal challenge there is to the game wears very thin, very quickly.

Ninja Master really cannot be recommended on any level, the presentation of the package may make a lot of people think they are getting some sort of Exploding Fist variant. They may feel cheated.

Overall: 1/5

Summary: Poor quality game of reactions rather than of Exploding Fist type game it first seems. Avoid.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 58, Aug 1986   page(s) 26,27

MACHINE: Spectrum 48K
SUPPLIER: Firebird
PRICE: £1.99

What's this? A budget Fist? No, not quite. But Ninja Master isn't a bad warm up for a session with the real thing. This game, from the Swedish Tron Software team, is a sort of Ninja Supertest.

You have to compete in four tests of skill. You begin as a lowly white belt and must qualify in each of the four events or tests before you are awarded another pretty coloured belt to hold your ceremonial trousers up with for the next attempt.

Event one is a test of your reactions. You have to fend off flying arrows by kicking and punching at the right time. Each of your three attempts at qualifying is timed and if you don't get the required score it's back to the start of the game again.

If you do qualify it's on to the karate chop challenge in which your Ninja has to smash a block of wood which looks big enough to be a kerbstone. This is just a two key "decathlon" game. Hammer away to get the powermeter into the red and you'll break the block. Not much of a challenge this.

Which is something that cannot be said about the next test which pits your Ninja - armed with a sword - against the deadly Ninja stars. This is another tougher - reaction test. The stars come at you thick and fast and at different levels. Once again you get three timed chances to beat the qualifying score.

Manage this one and you find yourself armed with a blowpipe attempting to shoot down cannisters thrown from the right hand side of the screen - Japanese duck shoot!

The best thing about the game are the sound effects. Horrible screams when your Ninja gets hit, nice oriental cries of triumph when you get something right, and huge cheers from the crowd when you qualify for an event.

The graphics are nicely done and the screen presentation, hi-scores in a little window on the right hand side, with other relevant details along the bottom of the screen, is good too.

Each event is proceeded by an intro screen which usefully tells you the right controls, which the player can define if he or she so wishes at the start of the game.

This is a keyboard only game and we experienced some difficulty loading with a joystick interface plugged in. The game doesn't really lose anything because of the lack of a joystick option.

Ninja Master is a good value budget game might not be long on lasting appeal after you've wacked through it a few times.

Graphics: 6/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 6/10
Playability: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue 28, Aug 1986   page(s) 11


What could make more sense? Take two successful game formulae and blend them together to form a third. At least is seems to be the idea with this game. It could be called Way Of The Track and Field or Hyper Sports meets Fighting Warrior.

Actually the main format is that of the track and field type of game and you progress though the grades by reaching qualifying scores in each of the four different events. The events are:

1. Defend against arrows by punching and kicking them out of the way.

2. Build up power by pressing left/right in order to karate chop a log.

3. Use a sword to defend against flying Shuriken stars.

4. Use a blow pipe to fire at flying cannisters.

The graphics are acceptable but not really in the same league of similar programs, the number of events is likewise limited but having said this the program is also a lot cheaper than its contemporaries.

The game is enjoyable to play, it has a charm of its own and is fairly addictive. Backgrounds are well drawn and colourful while the animation is reasonable.

Sound is interesting, if you connect up to a beep booster or other sound enhancement system then your Ninja character yells a passable "HA!!" every blow he makes or when struck.

A high score or 'record' is kept for each event and an overall score is used for a hall of fame at the end.

Though limited, I enjoyed this game and at the price I would recommend it, especially if you do not already own any of its predecessors. If you are already a master of a similar game then you may find this one a little to easy. One final gripe between each screen the computer does a good imitation of a system reset. Very unnerving.

Overall: Good

Award: ZX Computing Globert

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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