januari 13, 2014

Ninja Crusaders on famicom

For some reason, Ninja Crusaders isn't popular. It is less common than the Ninja Gaiden games and unlike Ninja Gaiden it is beatable. I have personally not tried out Ninja Gaiden yet because the reported difficulty would probably make me frustrated. Also, Ninja Gaiden doesn't need another review. Everyone knows about it and me spending 20 hours of frustration wouldn't be useful to anyone.

Lets see why people chose not to buy Ninja Crusaders then.
Released in Japan and the US in 1990. (no PAL release)

This time I will play on one of the AV modded famicoms that we sell. Looks nice, doesn't it?

The first thing you'll notice in the game is that you die a lot. Here is one of my first attempts at playing.

You have infinite continues, but every time you die you start from the beginning of the stage.
With the exception of the boss. That is only time that it is useful to have several lives. Luckily, the endbosses in the games aren't impossible. They may take a couple of tries but follow a simple pattern.

A gamefaq reviewer complains how the game is a memorization task more than a skill.
Once you hit level 3-2, the game becomes a task of memorizing the position of enemies. Enemies come at you so fast and are so strategically positioned, that you will never be able to react to them in time. And because one hit kills you, you will be sent back to the beginning of the stages many times until you are able to remember where everything comes from. This isn't that bad until you reach the last few levels. Every move the ninja makes must be executed perfectly, and I mean within mere millimeters of perfection. Otherwise the enemies won't line up right, or they will come from the wrong angle, and you will be taken down without any chance for avoidance. There is no margin of error.   --

He is right in one way. In another way I enjoyed playing because the levels are short but you need skill to beat them. That's how I think ninja games should be.

Here is an example of me playing to reach the boss of one level. I started off dying a lot, the gradually improved. And, as the reviewer said, a simple mistake will kill you, so you can't rely on memorization alone.

You get extra lives in a funny way: you pick up a weapon that you are already holding. This is why in the video I never seem to get game over. At every new start, I can take the weapon I am holding, that I keep in death, and get 1-up.

I am also happy to say that the game is beatable. It took me around 6 hours and I am not a hardcore gamer. The last stage, 5-2, was most difficult and took maybe 2,5 hours. Here are my first attempts. Pretty pathetic. I actually laughed out loud at how impossible it seemed while I was playing. Every new enemy is like a certain death the first few times.

It reminds me of Holy Diver on famicom that I played (or should I say "suffered") around 2 years ago. A game so brutally difficult that I feel bad thinking about it. All stages are three times as long as in Ninja Crusaders.

Anyways, here in Ninja Crusaders after 2,5 hours of 5-2, I had improved. The video shows how I beat the last stage and boss. Spoiler warning if you don't want to see it. It is funny how short the stages really are once you know them.

The end screen answers my challenge question. The game has no Japanese text.
After you have beaten the game, you can restart and the enemies are twice as hard.

As I started writing the review, I saw the review that explains you can transform into FOUR DIFFERENT ANIMALS and that this is crucial for beating the game. (wtf I didn't know that !?)
Each of the Animals is very unique and doesn't require ''ninja magic points'' or anything of that nature. This is a good thing because turning into your animal form is crucial to success in many areas. In fact, there are certain parts of the game where only one particular animal transformation will allow you to succeed. Just hold down the attack button for about 3 seconds and -POOF- you're a beastie! The animal you become depends on what weapon you have. The shuriken turns you into a tiger, the morning star turns you into a giant scorpion, the bo turns you into an eagle, and the katana turns you into a dragon.   -- http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/587487-ninja-crusaders/reviews/review-26044
I did find the tiger transformation but I found it useless. A short clip here:

I usually had the shuriken and never transformed to other animals.

Ninja Crusaders has a 2-player co-op mode. That's right, you can play 2-player co-op in this ninja game. I wonder if it doesn't just make things harder? The gamefaqs reviewers liked this option anyways. If one player transforms into a bird, the other one can ride on him.

A fun game, and the most fun I have had dying in a long time. If you appreciate a good challenge that is beatable for most (unlike Ninja Gaiden), I recommend it. A fine little game that can be beaten in a day, just as I want them. Once you are good enough, the game can probably be beaten in less than 20 minutes.

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