Retro: VC Weekly #137

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Shadow of the Ninja

Points: 600
Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Natsume
Released: 1991
System: NES

Ninja games started to gain in popularity during the Eighties thanks to the aforementioned titles plus the phenomenon that later followed featuring turtles trained in the discipline of martial arts. In the year of 1991 our obsession with Ninjas may have died down but this didn't stop Natsume from being slightly late to the party with the arrival of their game entitled Shadow of the Ninja.

Playing as either Hayate or Kaede you must run, slice and jump your way through five levels - split into stages - set across the USA as you attempt to save the country which has been overtaken by the evil emperor Garuda who you must - naturally - take out in order to save the country and in turn probably the world from destruction.

Both characters have similar ninja abilities and so can climb, run and jump through the levels armed with a katana for slicing up whoever gets in the way, this is upgradable to the kusarigama if you can find it during the level not to mention you can carry a limited number of shurikens should you happen across any. Picking up the same weapon will result in an increase in power while taking too much damage will cause it to revert back to its standard state, it's an interesting system that seems to reward more careful players.

Your enemies will come in all manner of shapes and sizes ranging from bog-standard baddies to light-footed ninjas, mutated monkeys and ruthless robots each with their own attack patterns that get trickier as the game progresses. There are boss battles too and while a good few of them are initially intimidating they can be dispatched with a good few hits when employing rinse and repeat tactics; visually everything looks nice for a NES title with some decent accompanying music but overall it's pretty standard as ninja titles go.

It doesn't do a lot wrong but there isn't much here that hasn't been done before and to a better standard at that; if you really enjoy ninja games though and want your 'fix' then you could do a lot worse but if you're looking for a similar game that has more substance to it then check out either the Shinobi or The Last Ninja series as they are by far superior in almost every respect.

Verdict : A nonchalant ninja title.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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