A remake, of a remake, of an arcade classic that famously used three screens in its cabinet. As well as being about Ninja robots kickin’ butt? Colour me intrigued.
The Ninja Saviors sets up its story of a dystopian future ruled by a dictator named Banglar, it’s up to the rebels (led by Mulk) to put a stop to it using state of the art robot ninjas. It’s a scenario that absolutely makes sense coming from a game originally released in 1987, still in the hype of films like The Terminator.
This beat-‘em-up reminded me of side scrolling games I used to play like Streets of Rage, the only difference is the action occurs on one single plane rather than the multiple ones of SoR. The combat itself is impactful and satisfying with the majority of the enemies being a one-hit kill, you’ll mow through the opposition with flurries of attacks including a devastating all-screen attack that will level the playing field. It’s not the case of just mashing buttons, play it carefully and you can time attacks to take out numerous bad guys and throw vehicles and barrels into them to thin out numbers. Each stage ends with a boss battle, offering more of a challenge then the weak grunts that came before. Some of which are at least twice the size of your chosen character, even one which can turn itself all but invisible.
Depending on your skill level, the eight stages probably won’t take you too long to get through. Stages are set in various locales, from train yards to skyscrapers. Occasionally environmental hazards will try to halt your progress, aggressive choppers or lucky mortar strikes may cause you damage. Like normal attacks these are also avoidable to a degree, just be tactical.
You can expand your playtime by playing as each of the 5 playable characters, (three to start with, two are unlocked beating the game in normal and hard difficulty) this will add a slither of replayability to the game. There’s also a Time Attack mode in which you are tasked to complete the game in the fastest time possible, without dying. Die and you fail, meaning you will have to you play from the very beginning. Truth time, in my review I never managed it. I tried, failed, then gave up as I wanted to play the other stages to make sure I was experiencing all this game had to offer. It’s doable, I was just making silly mistakes.
The Ninja Saviors is easy to pick up and play, with quick to learn controls and a campaign that won’t take too long to beat. While that may put off die-hard beat ‘em up fans, it makes the game much more accessible to those who may have never played this genre in arcades.
With the option to play two-player co-op, you and a friend can take on the fight from the comfort of your couch. While I didn’t get a chance to go through the entire game in co-op, when tested the addition of another player didn’t alter the game negatively, so it’s safe to assume it works throughout.
Graphically Ninja Saviors is beautiful to look at, detailed scenery stands out and characters pop with highlights/shadows. It’s clear what is occurring on screen, from explosions to impacts, it makes for good viewing. It also sounds good, the chip-tune soundtrack – which has been re-recorded for this game – really adds to the arcade feel. Even the sound effects for attack impacts and blocking are clear as day to help indicate how well you’re doing during combat.
To really set in the retro feel of the game the added option to add scanlines is a nifty little feature that made me smile, even better is the ability to choose the amount of scanlines as not to overload you with too much nostalgia of the old CRT screens of yesteryear.
While it didn’t take long to get the most out of this title I still really enjoyed punching my way through what The Ninja Saviors had to offer, it’s a fantastic throwback to games of that era, with modern trimmings that add quality of life. More 2D beat ’em ups of this vein should be met with open arms, so let’s make it happen, let us have a resurgence of this untouched genre.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*