Games like: Mega Man, Shinobi
Time played: 3 hours
Who doesn’t love giant ninja stars or shuriken as they are known in more intelligent places? Ones so big they are the size of your head. Now you add a dash of fast paced action gameplay and a double jump that doesn’t suck, that’s Ninja Senki. A freeware game developed by Pixeltao inspired with Gameboy Color aesthetics and old school Nintendo difficulty. My favorite.
Popping over to the game’s main website, you’ll download a .zip file containing all that you need to get Ninja Senki up and running. Sadly, at the time of this writing, the game is only native to the Windows platform although I’ve read some success with apps like Wine and others to get the game running on other platforms. There’s nothing to install and your Xbox 360 controller will work right out of the box just like you’d expect it to. The A button is set to your attack and the B button jumps and then double jumps. You also have your choice of using the directional pad or the analog stick to move Mr. Ninja around the world. It’s super easy to pick up and fairly difficult to put down.
Your beloved, Kinuhime, is killed by a ninja demon. Now Hayate, fueled by rage, sets out to destroy those and exact revenge on her murderers. You’ll travel to the far reaches of feudal Japan fighting against a band of evil ninjas and mythological Japanese creatures. You’ll battle ghosts, strange plant creatures, ninjas that stand in place and throw shurikens at you and a seemingly innocent frog jumping to rip your throat out.
Ninja Senki takes no time at all to force you to become aware of the controls and enemies. The gameplay mechanics are such that you learn while you play much like the Mega Man series of days past. This type of level design allows the player to learn on their own without the need of any kind of silly tutorial or long intro scene. If you die, it’s your own fault for not watching for patterns or anticipating your enemy’s next move. Each enemy has a pattern that is well timed and without refute. You’re armed only with the ninja stars so you’ll become a master of the weapon in no time flat. Surprisingly, it doesn’t get boring with just the single weapon. Again, it’s all about timing.
There are sixteen different stages or scenes to play through. Every other stage will end with a boss fight. These battles range from odd fireball spitting buildings to dragons living in the fair seas. These battles are preceded by Mega Man style rooms without the opening doors with Dr. Wily’s logo of course but even the midway checkpoints for the levels have the same kind of air about them.
The point system, although not new, does have some interesting concepts to the overall game. With each kill or coin pick up, you’ll receive a point score from one to fifty. 100 points or more for defeating bosses. These points act both as your lives, health refresh and continues. There aren’t any health packs or energy pellets to replenish your health. Instead, reaching 1000 points will bring your health bar back to five which is the maximum. If you already have full health, the 1000 points will go to adding an extra life. Every time you run out of lives, you can continue the same level but at the cost of 100 points from your total score. At first this may not seem like a big deal, but the ending point values will award you a different ending. Pretty cool, right?
Like many games with this type of atmosphere, you’ll be playing the levels again and again trying to figure out the patterns and cursing yourself for making a wrong move. There were many times where I would narrowly finish off a boss with a single hit point left to thrust my fist in the air with triumph. It has a way give you just enough that you’ll want to keep playing to conquer it. Seeing that door float down from a white knuckle battle is extremely rewarding.
As you may not know (which if you read this site regularly you’ll already know), I am not very good at games. Luckily I have patience on my side. Ninja Senki will take about an hour to complete once you’ve learned from all the mistakes you made getting to that point. I played for three times this long and still only got to scene nine or ten. Ninja Senki has a great way of baiting you to keep playing. Getting a little further each time was enough for me to keep trying. Some of you will breeze right through it. I, on the other hand, will need to come back multiple times to beat it. There aren’t any saved games or a password system so you have to go for broke to complete it in one sitting.
Ninja Senki is a fun, freeware game that feels and plays just like it would from the olden days of action platformers. There’s some unique mechanics including a robust scoring system that plays a much bigger part than you’d expect. Great controls, Mega Man inspired gameplay and satisfying level design makes Ninja Senki a must play.
Check out more pics from Ninja Senki.
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