(Blue Ribbon, 1985)
Sleepy Joe is trying to escape from Nightmare Maze. To do this, he must collect ten keys on each level and then head for the exit door to go to the next level, while avoiding all the monsters. Occasionally a cup of black coffee will appear, and collecting it causes all the monsters to disappear for a brief period. This game was originally released for the BBC Micro and Electron computers, and the graphics have been ported straight from these machines unchanged. The sound effects are poor and a very annoying beeping noise plays continuously. The gameplay is also frustrating; if you touch any of the monsters, you lose all your keys as well as losing a life, and you have to collect all the keys again. In addition, despite the presence of a timer, there is a bug that causes the game to ignore the time limit!
(Ultimate Play the Game, 1985)
Reviewed by Pug
The once peaceful town of Nightshade is now a place to avoid. A terrible curse was placed upon it that turned all the residents into monsters. You are the hero that will lift this horrid curse and bring peace back to this blighted town. The game itself is an isometric scrolling maze of buildings that hide valuable objects needed to complete the game. The exteriors of all the buildings look inviting and are well drawn, unlike the interiors, which are bare. Sadly, it’s not Ultimate’s finest hour. The scrolling is painfully slow and the endless supply of monsters becomes annoying, especially when your ammunition runs out. Nightshade is worth a few goes but you won’t enjoy it in the long run.
(Entertainment USA, 1987)
Princess Di-Di has been captured and held in the Palace of Pearls, and you’re a ninja who is out to rescue her – but you will be confronted with an array of thugs, karate fighters and evil ninjas, and you have to collect idols as well. In each room you will encounter some enemies, and as you progress to higher floors of the building, you have to deal with more enemies in each room. Unfortunately, you only have one life and not a lot of energy to kill all the enemies. Collecting an idol restores your energy, but their position varies each time you play, and there’s never one around when you really need it! The graphics are rather poor and there are few sound effects. It lacks variety as well and quickly becomes dull.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: ChinnyVision, Metr81.
Ishikawa Nagato is a ninja who has vowed to kill the female yakuza boss Nure-Onna, who is hiding in a temple somewhere in Japan. This game is rather different from other ninja-themed games in that it’s played in a similar manner to a point-and-click adventure. On each screen, you move a cursor and you must guess the correct area to select. You may also be asked to press a sequence of keys in the correct order, like the Simon memory game. Moving to the next screen requires several correct guesses, and the process is a matter of trial and error, as well as memorisation. Fortunately, if you make a mistake, you can start again from the current screen. The game features beautifully digitised graphics and atmospheric music, and the style of gameplay is interesting, but I was somewhat put off by the gratuitous use of very offensive language throughout the game.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: Saberman.
(Zeppelin Games, 1988)
Take control of a ninja commando as you battle your way through eight horizontally scrolling levels, killing other ninjas with flying kicks, and leaping across platforms and chasms. While most enemy ninjas are unarmed like you, some of them have guns and other weapons. However, the game is too difficult. Killing enemy ninjas requires a ridiculous amount of precision; get your kicks even slightly wrong and you lose one of your five lives and are sent some way back along the level to start again. The graphics are not that bad, but it’s a dull, run-of-the-mill beat-’em-up that everyone has seen before.
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: Axelino, ChinnyVision.
Reviewed by Piero Serra
“A break from the traditional type of combat game” is how Ninja Grannies is proudly described on the intro screen, and that’s certainly true. Instead of entering the arena as the customary young male with a vendetta and a black ninja mask, this time you are playing as Mabel, a martial artist senior citizen who has vowed to rid the local care homes and bingo halls of trouble. If it sounds ridiculous – which it is – don’t be fooled, because this is actually a fairly decent fighting game. Mabel has a variety of impressive moves at her disposal, including floor sweeps, handbag swings and a very effective roundhouse kick. Her opponents are a varied bunch, ranging from local thugs to other lethal pensioners. The sprites are chunky and colourful, although the animation is limited and the backdrops are amusingly mundane. The loading screen is hilarious, too.
Ninja Hamster has returned to the village where he was born after many years away, but a gang of nasty creatures has overrun it, so he must take them on. The creatures have silly names like Sinister Rat, the Lizard of Death, Barmy Bee and Loony Lobster – great! Unfortunately, underneath all of this wackiness is a bland, repetitive single-screen beat-’em-up. On each level, you must battle against one of these mutant creatures, and you must knock him out six times before you can take on another opponent. The graphics are awful, and even hardened beat-’em-up fans will find this game quite disappointing – although the Oriental-themed music on the menu is worth listening to.
(Code Masters, 1989)
Amstrad Action’s Adam Waring was responsible for this rather average maze game. You’re a ninja and in each level, you have to find the exit, but you’ll have to find keys and eat fruit to restore your energy that is constantly taken away from you by the armies of monsters attacking you. The graphics are reasonable and the music is quite good, and while the game is startlingly unoriginal (it’s a blatant Gauntlet clone), it’s OK if you want a quick game of something. There are also passwords for every five levels to help you.
Watch a YouTube video of this game by: ChinnyVision.
Reviewed by John Beckett
Ever wondered how ninjas actually become those masked assassins we all know and love? Well, according to this game, they take part in a kind of Ninja Olympics to gain the title of Master Ninja. There are four events – punching and kicking arrows out of the air, breaking blocks of wood, deflecting shurikens with your sword and using your blowpipe to shoot darts into cans that fly past you. Progress through these and you start again but with a higher score to qualify. There’s not much to it; you can only use the keyboard to play, and the graphics and sound are absolutely terrible, but it’s still quite fun (for a while), and at least it tries something a bit different. Oh, and you’ll need lightning reflexes to get past the third stage!
Ninja Scooter Simulator
Reviewed by John Beckett
Ever wondered what it’s like to ride on a Ninja Scooter? If so, then this is the simulator for you! Anyway, onto the review... and really there’s not much to say. You control a ninja on a scooter, and must travel down the road, from left to right, avoiding obstacles and performing stunts, and then do the same, but this time from right to left. So this is what ninjas do in their spare time! The levels get progressively harder, but are never a real challenge, and you’ll soon see the same levels cycling over and over, as you rack up a huge score. Graphics and sound are about average, but – here’s the surprise – the game is actually a lot of fun and is unbelievably addictive! It’s nothing ground-breaking and it’s not a classic, but I like it anyway!
Watch YouTube videos of this game by: ChinnyVision, Novabug (gameplay), Novabug (longplay).