by Icon Design Ltd
Entertainment USA
Crash Issue 37, Feb 1987   page(s) 120,121

Producer: Mastertronic
Retail Price: £1.99
Author: Icon Design

Ninjas aren't the sort of guys you want to bump into down a dark alleyway. Not only do they possess a rather nasty sword, they always keep a plentiful supply of Ninja stars about them, and if all that lot doesn't get you, well, a swift kick or punch should see you coughing up the of expensive bridgework. Fortunately, the hero of this game, the Ninja, is the worst of the lot. Going in and sorting out a multilevel temple positively bursting at the seams with various aggressive types is the ideal way for him to spend a rather dull Sunday afternoon.

The justification for this breach of the peace, just in case Ninja needs one, is that a low-down no good bunch of baddies has made off with a collection of idols from the temple which Ninja supports. He sets out to rescue the idols from the clutches of the blasphemers.

Several flip-screen rooms make up a single storey of the temple and the hero has to kill off at least one idol-thief in each chamber. Only one baddie confronts him on the screens that make up the first level, but on the higher levels, up to three may come at him at once. Moving up a level causes the bad guys on the level vacated to regenerate.

Ninja has but one life but can'replenish his energy reserves by collecting idols. Five hits kill him, but he's some mean Ninja and has a full range of kicks and punches, a supply of throwing stars and that trusty blade.

The opposition includes Ninjas, Thugs and Karatekas. The yobs take a different number of blows to dispose of, and fight in different ways: Thugs wade straight in as soon as Ninja moves towards them; Karatekas are fairly aggressive, but the Bad Ninjas like to hang back throwing Ninja stars.

After a Ninja star has been thrown, it lies at the bottom of the screen so a Bad Ninja or our hero can collect it - the hero can catty three stars at once.

Points are scored for salvaging Idols and for eliminating baddies. To win the game, the seven idols have to be collected before Ninja fights his way back down to Level One.


Control keys: definable - up, down, left, right, punch
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: colourful, but simplistic
Graphics: simple, basic stuff
Sound: minimal effects
Skill levels: one
Screens: 15

Ninja is the sort of game that would have been exceedingly playable if only the programmers had spent a little more time on it. The idea is there and is very good, but unfortunately the game gives an overall impression of being unfinished. The gameplay isn't that impressive: I couldn't play more than a few goes without becoming completely bored. Beating up thugs is only fun when they fight back intelligently. The graphics are poor. The characters flicker around erratically and the backgrounds are boring. The sound is also below average - there are no tunes and the effects leave a lot to be desired. All in all, even with the low price, I wouldn't recommend this. It just isn't fun to play.

What a boring game this is. There is very little in Ninja that would keep anybody excited for tong. It needs very little thought to play the game - Ninja is just a case of trudging around bashing up pixels. The graphics are particularly basic and monochromatic. The backgrounds contain lots of colour but give a poor illusion of depth. Sound consists of basic 'white noise'effects and no tune. I didn't find Ninja in the slightest bit addictive. The package contains a nice loading screen and many options, but unfortunately little game.

Ninja is a bad game. The graphics are very poor, similar characters may have been passable on Fist, years ago, but not now: the programmer couldn't be bothered to animate them properly? No brain is required, beyond the ability to move and fire, but I wouldn't complain about that if there was more content in it. There isn't though, so I'll just say don't buy it, even for £1.99.

Presentation: 60%
Graphics: 50%
Playability: 47%
Addictive Qualities: 45%
Value for Money: 51%
Overall: 50%

Summary: General Rating: A very average budget beat 'em up.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 45, Oct 1987   page(s) 40


There's been an explosion in martial-arts sims since The Way Of The Exploding Fist, as RICKY EDDY and ROBIN CANDY observe in this good beat-'em-up guide. And the ninjas just won't lie down - all they want to do is...

They started three years ago, when Bug Byte revealed an interesting little number called Kung Fu. It was an admirable wireframe attempt to produce a martial-arts simulation - 'probably the most unusual game to be seen on the Spectrum for a long while,' said CRASH in amazement.

But sceptics thought the genre would never catch on. It took Melbourne House to show them the way - The Way Of The Exploding Fist, which sold more than 150,000 copies for the Spectrum and nearly half a million across all formats.

Since then, nothing's kept the combat games down. They've been grotesque (Barbarian), skillful (Fist) and downright silly (Ninja Hamster).

The genre soon caught the nickname 'beat-'em-ups', as the gameplay always involves a player beating up his opponent, whether the computer or another player.

And with the advent of the 128s and their improved sound chips, the fighting effects became more hideous - the most disturbing beat-'em-up sounds must be the animal squeals on Ninja Hamster.

But most of these martial-arts simulations are so unrealistic, set in pseudo-Oriental fantasy worlds, that it's just harmless surrogate violence - and everyone likes a bit of that.


50% Issue 37

RICKY: Get ready for the usual scenario which bears only some distant relationship to the backdrops and very little to the game itself...

A remote relative of Ninja, our hero, has just had his temple robbed by a bunch of evil ninjas. So off trots Ninja (the good one) to kill off all the other ninjas (the bad ones), who are still lurking in the temple. These bad ninjas have beautifully Oriental names such as Thug.

Ninja had potential, but it's amateurish and ridiculously easy. The enemies can all be killed with a couple of low kicks or by lobbing shuriken start at the, So Ninja has very little to offer the dedicated combateer, despite its budget price tag.

ROBIN: This budget beat-'em-up is one of the worst of the bunch. The graphics are very simplistic, with poor animation, and there's only the odd sound effect. It doesn't take long to get tired of Ninja - even though it's so cheap, steer clear of it,

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Overall (Robin Candy): 39%
Overall (Richard Eddy): 30%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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