The StarSoldier


Artist touch: I have always been a big fan of this artwork here. A very mean and detailed looking ninja standing across a fiery city is just cool. This great art here is sure one of the reasons the series has been so successful. Perfect rating! Cover art rating: 10/10

Month it won: April 2005

(Atari/Tecmo, 1991)

Special note: This is the only home translation of the original arcade game!

Introduction and Story:
First it was the 2004 President election, then it was Michael Jackson debate, and now there is another issue that is dividing millions of people around the world. I'm talking about Assisted Suicide of course! Definitely one very touchy subject where someone would help a powerless person in pain to finally die. I really don't know what the big deal is though, in video games it happens all the time. I found easily found one game here in particular where you hold a person's life right in your hands.

The Ninja Gaiden series has always been a huge cult favourite among hardcore video game players and the game has showed up on systems like the Xbox, Game Gear, NES, and many more. Did you know that Ninja Gaiden first got its start in the arcades though? Lucky Atari Lynx owners were the only ones who got the rare chance to play the fun game on portable console. In this Lynx edition you control Ryu, a highly skilled ninja looking to clean up the streets of the United States of thugs and wanted criminals.
Controls and Game Play:
If you are fimilar with games like Double Dragon or Final Fight you will feel right at home here with this Ninja Gaiden. Ryu can punch and kick his way through tons of bad guys and once you beat up enough of them you have to beat the stage's end boss (which range from deadly arcobats with razorsharp claws to giant pro wrestlers) to complete the level. The odds are definitely against you but Ryu when knocks a enemy into several background objects, he may find a power up inside. Some of these items can restore life and one can even let you use a sword for a bit. The game is simple to learn and easy to get into but that's also it's biggest problem.

Where Ninja Gaiden's game play really falls apart especially in this day and age is that Ryu doesn't have too many moves. Although the game starts off easy, the later levels here can get extremely difficult especially when a large group of enemies surround you and a few throws and ninja stars attacks would have helped. Expect to die a lot!
Graphics and Sounds:
OK, this brings me to the whole Assisted Suicide issue I started up earlier. When you lose all your lives during the Continue scene, Ryu is in pretty big trouble because he is tied up and a huge buzzsaw is slowing but surely coming down towards him. If you decide to use up one of your few continues then everything is fine and you can go fighting again but you can also just decide to do nothing and watch the counter go to zero and have the screen go red. A lot of arcade games do this sort of thing all time where if you have to save the life of your player by forking over more quarters but what happens if you don't have the extras or you think the game sucks? The average gamer would probably have a little laugh while they watch someone like Ryu kick the bucket before their eyes but I wonder if anyone of a religious faith would worry about burning in hell if they don't do something to help this virtual character, eh?

Moving back to the game, Ninja Gaiden's graphics may look blurry, too blocky, and dull like most Lynx games but the game still has a lot of detail in the backgrounds and the enemies have a lot of personality. Name another game where a big fat guy attacks you with log? The game also has some stand out sound effects and music as well. Each stage has its own unique soundtrack and even the bosses may their own theme. Although that doesn't sounds like a big deal you have to remember that a lot of Lynx games don't always have backgrounds music at all.
The Bottomline:
Ninja Gaiden may be a fun game but it is still far from perfect. The game could have really used a two player mode (like in the arcade game) and a few more enemies as well but despite these some problems here and there the game just screams cool. Ryu has a few awesome looking acrobatic moves at his disposal and I love knocking out enemies into a phone booth so I can hear the glass shratter and get that all important power up. If you're a Lynx owner looking for some action, Ninja Gaiden is well worth picking up but just don't get all bent out of shape if you keep dying.
overall rating: 74/100
Find Ninja Gaiden on eBay here!

For 1 player only
graphics: 7/10
sound: 7/10
gameplay: 7/10
replay: 6/10

(Ryan Genno) 2005

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