The Ninja Saviors promotional title

Upon reviewing my pile of things to play and review, I realise that while I uploaded a quick playthrough of The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors for the Switch on my YouTube channel, I didn’t write about it. The following is a simple video I made of early gameplay, just to give an indication on what to expect from the game. So, here it goes.

History of the Ninja (Warriors)

To begin our history lesson, The Ninja Saviors is a follow-up to a series of games that started with Ninja Warriors. I first played The Ninja Warriors in the arcades back in the ’80s (alright, grandad). It was a strange setup – a super widescreen that had never really been seen before for a beat ’em up. There were two ninjas that I recall that were blue and red, because that’s what happened in the ’80s.

Ninja Warriors was then ported over to the Amiga at some stage with the same setup. Again, the ratio was quite bizarre and didn’t translate to the home system (widescreen TVs were a pipedream), but it was a decent game and built up a reasonable fanbase. The franchise went quiet for a while, but a follow up was released for home systems.

Published by ININ Games, this has had been initially available on the SNES in Japan and North America around 1995, when developed by Natsume. Well, the tables have turned as North America get this game a little late, but Ninja Saviors is more or less a remaster of the ’90s SNES game. Is it any good? Yes, for the sake of nostalgia, but it is quite short-lived.

Interrupting a master during his meditation on a rock

The New Generation

The Ninja Saviors would not look out of place in an arcade from the era, and I would indeed be queuing up to play this. In 2019 however, if you didn’t know the history, you could think this was an indie title or rehash of an old NeoGeo game. Funnily enough, this did appear on the NeoGeo in some form or another and received quite a bit of acclaim at the time. For those who were rich, and could afford one.

The graphics are 16-bit and look the part, and it’s a familiar genre on this website a beat ’em up and a side-scroller. There are eight levels of action, and they are over relatively quickly with little difficulty. Of the three initial ninja cyborgs you can choose, each one can one-hit kill most enemies you encounter. A couple of brutes and harder enemies appear as you progress that carries a blade or gun and need a few more hits to stay down. Or throws.

Your choice of characters is reasonably balanced. There is a tank named Ninja who is slow and strong, Kunoichi, the usual token female who is swift but probably the best all-rounder and then Kamaitachi, the super quick assassin with blades in his arms. Later on, you can unlock Raiden who is a walking building and Yaksha, a technical fighter with extending arms. Ignoring his size, both Ninja and Kunoichi resemble the original arcade characters of the ’80s.

Simple controls, but an included online manual on how to play

Familiar, But No So Secret Formula

The story is a classic beat ’em up piece, in the style of Double Dragon, Dragon Ninja or the recent Mother Russia Bleeds. Banglar is the president and controls the country. He’s a bit of a dick, so the ninjas are going to beat him up. There, saved you some time with the story. It is that simple though: walk left to right and hit anything that gets in your way.

Over each stage, you walk along, hit someone, encounter a relatively large or difficult enemy, walk along a bit more then fight a boss. Aside from the first boss, each and everyone is easy to beat in normal mode. I can’t comment on the more difficult option as I’m a wuss. The final boss was quite tricky to beat, and the difficulty curve upped a little too much, too soon, but he can be defeated. And spoiler, it’s all done with throws.

My tone may seem like I’m putting The Ninja Saviors down, but I did enjoy the game, albeit, it was over quite quickly. As I said, The Ninja Saviors is something that wouldn’t be out of place in the arcades from yesteryear, but now it’s a little, meh. The controls are basic but tight, and the move set for each character is reasonable enough to have a favourite that isn’t just based on appearance, but it will appeal more to the nostalgic gamers or those looking for a retro fix that they missed out on the first time.

Kunoichi takes on two of the bosses seen from the first stage, at the same time

Longing For Any Ninja Saviors

For someone who isn’t exactly fantastic at playing games, I finished The Ninja Saviors on my first attempt on release day. While there wasn’t any significant challenge (often than the first boss, which was so weird), I was happy plodding along, killing whatever came my way, but I didn’t have the desire to replay it immediately again, or, at the time of writing this (22:33) don’t feel like loading it up anytime soon.

Once you complete the first time and unlock your new characters, that’s about it. You can change the difficulty, of course, and there is also the added time trial mode as well. Once you unlock each level, you can replay and try to set the best time. If you enjoy the game enough, then maybe it’s an incentive, but after finishing the first time, I lost interest other than playing a round of co-op.

Yes, you can play co-op, as you should be able to in this type of game. Strolling along with your ninja chum is a lot of fun. Feel proud! No need to hide in the shadows anymore. However, ensure that your pal (or yourself) is on the same page, as should one of you die, you will both die. Infuriating as I was about to nail a boss then my partner died – instant death!

The final Ninja Saviors boss, Bangler. Quite a tricky fight

The Ninja At The End Of The Line

As I keep mentioning, the first boss was a pain, and you can see that in my first playthrough video at the top of the page. However, everyone else was quite comfortable to beat. You may need to swap the characters about a bit as some are better than others, but generally speaking, the bruisers of the game tend to be my favourite – especially Ninja who throws enemies about with ease.

One thing to finish up on; my memory of these type of games was that you could never really finish them (unless you had a lot of coins or cheats), and if you did, it was a great achievement – even if the end scene was almost always a letdown. The Ninja Saviors has unlimited continues from the start, so go figure. It’s an enjoyable game, but very short-lived. Fancy a ninja based game with a bit more depth? I have the answer for you! Mark of the Ninja Remastered. Now go, quick – before I send the assassins on ya.

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