The Ninja Warriors

Okay, here’s the situation. The country is in ruins. A military dictatorship has pulled the once great nation into the depths of social and financial despair. The people no longer have the will to think for themselves or strive for greatness.

So what’s the solution?

DEPLOY SOME FUCKING NINJA ROBOTS!!

Therein lies the award-winning premise of The Ninja Warriors. Take down the evil tyrant Banglar and his seemingly unstoppable menagerie of knife-wielding mercenaries, Mad Max rejects, and ’80s businessmen wearing their sunglasses at night™, laying down street justice as one of three mecha-ninjas through six stages of moving right and mashing the Y button.

Seriously, “Banglar”? His name is Banglar? Not to mention that two of the robot/ninja abominations are simply named “Ninja” and “Kunoichi” (which itself simply means “female ninja”). I mean, it should be obvious enough from the story alone, perhaps even the title alone, that the developers didn’t really give half a shit about trying to make something beyond the bare minimum of mediocrity with this game. I guess just calling it Generic Dystopian Beat-em-up would have been too direct. Gotta make it marketable for the 12-year-old male demographic, I guess.

This is the kind of game that makes puppies cry.

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy

Oh great, a three-pack of masochism.

I’ve never understood the appreciation for these games beyond anything other than it featuring a ninja (oh, and I guess these days the series is known for comically sized breasts and when you twitch the controller the female characters breasts bounce around accordingly because I GUESS THE JAPANESE HAVE PRIORITIES).  I remember renting all three of these games and I remember actually actively hating them after failing to get through certain levels after innumerable tries.  Arguably, the game might not have been for children but this was certainly an era where pretty much all games were for children.  But I rented it, as a child, probably specifically because you could be a ninja and chop shit with swords.  It wouldn’t be until Tenchu that I’d really get to scratch that ninja itch (albeit with equally ridiculous plot).

But I have to confess, I’m a little torn.  I have never had the patience for games that are hard simply for the sake of being hard.  I’m not that guy.  I like to take games slowly and check out the scenery.  In RTS games I usually turtle a bit (or a lot, depending on the series and what it’ll let me accomplish).  I will grind enemies for money or resources in an RPG style game.  So Ninja Gaiden, a game where you plow through waves of enemies and do a lot of insane and, by necessity, precise platforming just isn’t my thing.  I just don’t derive my gaming pleasure from the self-satisfaction of defeating wave after wave of insane enemies unless I get some sort of delicious reward (like, say, the graphic novel cutscenes of Max Payne [or maybe loot and dollars like Torchlight/Borderlands/Neverwinter Nights/whatever]).  Ninja Gaiden doesn’t really offer me that story reward because I think it’s plot is stupid, and maybe I’ll find a health potion but who cares.

Seriously, it's like... "hey, you know who the jerks of nature are? birds! I've totally seen them divebombing dudes dressed only as ninjas."

BUT, on the other hand, apparently Ninja Gaiden was one of the first games to feature cutscene style backstory.  It might have been ahead of it’s time.  And sure, I guess the dialogue was super shitty and it was basically like “save your blonde girlfriend, man.”, but it’s still neat that it blazed a trail and was as popular as it was.

Anyway… I tried to appreciate these games with fresh eyes but I just couldn’t do it.  I died in very familiar places.  Like in Ninja Gaiden II when you’re on that train and there’s fucking football player guys with guns and these fucking birds are divebombing you (fucking birds, man).  I hated it then, and I hate it now.  It’s not even about chops.  It’s about patience.  Just like how I usually roll my eyes when someone tells me something is an “acquired taste”, I hate the idea of having to work at a game before I find it enjoyable.  This is probably why people hate Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer when they first start.  It’s all bombs from the air and snipers with bullshit scopes and you’re out there with your fucking goober gun and warm blood.  Except when I play a game like MW2, my hard work means that I’ll eventually be turning the tide and be the one hosing people down.  In Ninja Gaiden, my hard work means that I get another punishly difficult level that I need to memorize so that muscle memory gets me through it.

Gripping... wouldn't you think that if someone looked as though something was wrong that they might be keenly aware that it was the end for them?

Anyway, I’m sorry if I’m shitting on your favorite game.  It’s probably great if you either like masochism or, these days, watching breasts rise and fall to the touch of invisible hands (enjoy that one, though, because I guess if that’s what you’re into you probably won’t be touching many actual breasts).

Hagane

Hagane000
IN THE TIME OF BREAKFAST THE PATH TO TOAST OPENS!

Ninja Gaiden was a pretty good game. It was self explanatory, made good use of two buttons, and on top of that was really hard. I beat it awhile ago in an effort to prove my dominance over a long past younger me that was unable to cope with Ninja Gaiden’s unforgiving and often frustrating difficulty. Despite being difficult, Ninja Gaiden was simple.

Go towards the right

Watch out for your enemies

Use your sub-weapons

Don’t even think about being the individual that rails on me for not using seasonal themes or a juxtaposition of two events. I will cut you. In the spring. The point stands that Ninja Gaiden’s entire instruction set fits comfortably in haiku form. It’s simple and fits well within its limitations, making it a pretty entertaining bit of 8-bit expression.

Hagane is not Ninja Gaiden, though it certainly aspires to be. There is a ninja, and there are enemies, and you still need to walk right. The simplicity that made Ninja Gaiden a good game is conspicuously absent here, the designers seeming drunk on the possibility of having 8 whole extra bits to play with. The design is maximalist, with a tendency toward the addition of features for the sake of features. One sub-weapon? Let’s not make the player choose. Let’s include 6 sub-weapons, all of which drop in abundance and most of which are not much more useful than no subweapons at all. A spare button? Why not a screet clearing attack or a series of flips that function as questionably useful dodges?

The X button will hereafter be referred to as "action button" pursuant to section B of paragraph 4.
The X button will hereafter be referred to as "action button" pursuant to section B of paragraph 4.

Go right.

There are enemies.

Use subweapons*

Use L and R to dodge**

Use A for a screen-clearing attack.

If hit 3 times, you die.

Hardly poetry.

*Of which there are 4 or more, all of which are dropped frequently and must be switched between using the Y button. Sub-weapon is somewhat of a misnomer as the sub-weapon selected replaces the generic attack.

**This dodge is no faster than movement but it IS a cool ninja flip. Press the attack button while flipping forward to execute the DRAGON RUSH technique, wherein Hagane will dash forward, attack, and return to his original position. Yeah I don’t know why either.

Exertainment Mountain Bike Rally

ALLLLRIGHT YOU SONS OF BITCHES YOU GET YOUR GODDAMN FAT ASSES OFF THE BUS AND LINE UP POOOOOST HASTE

JESUS JACKHAMMERIN’ CHRIST ON A CORNCOB, YOU ARE SOME UGLY SONS OF BITCHES

character select

YOU AT THE BOTTOM RIGHT THERE

YOU LOOK LIKE AN OGRE FUCKED A FISH AND YOU’RE EATING YOUR OWN FACE OUT O’ SHAME

raging beast

NO MISSY I WILL NOT TALK IN LOWER CASE, LOWER CASE FOR LOWER CLASS CITIZENS IS WHAT MY POP ALWAYS TOLD ME!

CAPITAL LETTERS FOR THE CAPITAL CITY OF PAIN IN THE NATION OF BENDOVER, MY LITTLE TREEFUCKERS, AND I’M THE MAYOR – I’M TOUGH ON CRIME AND YOU JUST STEPPED INTO MAXIMUM SECURITY

THIS IS FUCKTOWN, POPULATION YOUR ASS, BITCHES

NOW LISTEN UP

THIS HERE IS A BIKE

bike

YOU WILL EACH GET YOUR BIKE AND YOU WILL LOVE IT LIKE YOUR OWN MOTHER.  IN FACT THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT I DON’T FUCK YOUR BIKE.

EXCEPT YOU, PRIVATE, IT DON’T LOOK LIKE YOUR MAMA WOULD BE ANY GOOD GARGLIN’ THESE HERE MARBLES

mystery

NOW WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR BIKE YOU HAVE FOUR OPTIONS, COUNT EM FOUR, WHAT ARE THEY?

GO

STOP

PUNCH

GRAB

YOU WILL NOTICE AN IMMEDIATE HIERARCHY, YOU BOWLEGGED PUBE-WHISKERED TURTLEFUCKERS

WHY WOULD YOU STOP WHEN YOU CAN GO, AND WHY WOULD YOU GRAB WHEN YOU CAN PUNCH?

THE ANSWER IS BECAUSE YOU ARE AN IDJIT AND THE ONLY THING YOUR PAPPY TAUGHT YOUS IS HOW TO BRING HIM ANOTHER BEER

NOW

YOU THERE

YES, YOU, THE ONE WHAT LOOKS LIKE YOU WERE BORN SIDEWAYS TO PARENTS WHO WAS COUSINS AND THEY LEFT YOU IN AN OVEN TO DIE

brucetard

YOU GET YOUR SKIN-GRAFTED ASS ON THIS BIKE

retard

HAVING SOME TROUBLE THERE BOY? JESUS MARY SON OF SAM, I AIN’T SEEN THE LIKE SINCE I TRIED TO ARMWRESTLE MY DOG

NOW GIVE ME A LAP

FASTER

FASTER YOU PIMPLEDICK

NOW SEE HOW A BURLY INDIVIDUAL AMBUSHED HIM FROM THE ROADSIDE

THAT’S BECAUSE HE WAS AFEARD AND NOT PAYING ATTENTION

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN ONE OF THEM FUCKERS TRIES TO GRAB YOU?

THAT’S RIGHT YOU PUNCH THAT SON OF A BITCH

NOW WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE TRIES TO PASS YOU ON THE TRACK?

I CAN’T HEAR YOUS!

THAT’S RIGHT YOU PUNCH THAT SON OF A BITCH!

NOW GIVE ME TEN LAPS AND I WANT TO SEE SOME BROKEN KNUCKLES!

WATCH OUT FOR THE TARDSOME FELLA, I THINK HE’S GOT NERVE DAMAGE! GOTTA HIT HIM IN THE NECK!

HIT HIM IN THE NECK!

THERE YOU GO!

OH HE’S TOO DUMB TO FEEL IT, LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE FUCKED!

horrible dialogue

3 Ninjas Kick Back

One game in and I already hate this concept. I remember now very well why I didn’t like a lot of games growing up– because a bunch of them were like this. You’re supposed to be playing the three kids from the movies (there were a bunch of these flicks in the 90s, and not one of them managed to touch the pristine glory that is Surf Ninjas), but, aside from one appallingly digitzed sound bite shouting “let’s murderlize them!” (tum-tum, you are a warrior AND a saint) there’s no other proof of their youth. Their faces look like an ugly, ugly homage to River City Ransom, with giant ANGRY EYES LIKE THIS >8(. But more insane. The best part is the schlocky 90s generi-metal “bwooww! BWWOWW!” when it loads each new level. You know that guitar rock song that you’ve never actually heard more than 8 seconds of? Where it’s not even melodic, just a guitar screaming in pain? It’s that sound, and it’s entirely worth it.

Also, the game starts with a giant boulder chasing you. Uhh… did that happen in the movie? I know it happened in <i>a</i> movie…

001-3ninjaskickback.jpg

That’s me playing Colt. Look at the arm strength exhibited by that swing.