It’s possible that you might have come across The Ninja Warriors at some point, either on home console, in the arcade or via a remake, there have been several attempts to remaster/remake it and The Ninja Saviors is yet another.
Taito’s classic is a side-scrolling beat’ em up from the late 80s which is a fan favourite and received ports to a range of home computers and consoles back in the day. Some of the team behind the original also provided a remake/sequel hybrid for SNES; The New Warriors: Once Again, The Ninja Saviors – Return of the Warriors is therefore the third attempt to bring the game to console and is also by far the most impressive.
You know those fighting games that promise a bunch of interesting playable characters and then present you with almost the same fighting style, give or take a stat here or there? The Ninja Saviors isn’t one of them. When it says you can play as different characters it really means it. Each one of these super-ninja cyborg hybrids has a different set of techniques from ground sweeps to sword take-downs and, as a result, a playthrough with each character feels very different.
The action takes place on a 2D single plane, no jumping about backwards and forwards into the screen here, but makes up for that by providing a great set of moves to master and ensuring your trip through the game is memorable thanks to some great backgrounds and large bosses. The story involves the usual evil dictator type (doing himself no favours in going by the name “Banglar the Tyrant”, I mean, what did his parents think?) and a bunch of rebels trying to bring peace and freedom back to the country, cookie cutter stuff, but it’s a means to an end and that end just happens to be a fantastic brawling romp featuring robot ninjas, so no-one here is complaining!
Passing the atmospheric backgrounds on their way to the big bad, you can expect our ninja friends to do quite a bit of damage to the enemy grunts who get in their way, and many will try. The fighting is an interesting mix of standard brawler and more nuanced 1-on-1 fighter with a power bar that gives you a super-charged attack when full and various different moves to pull off which can be used on different enemy types. This stops it becoming too much of a slog and creates a nice flow between choosing which enemy to hit next and reserving some of your power for the boss that you know will arrive at the end of the level.
Backgrounds are fantastic, as you wade through the enemies in the six different locations you’ll be wishing you had time to stop and admire the view. Sound is also impressive, with a similar feel of paying homage to the original tunes but updating them at the same time. Generally, the presentation here is well worth celebrating considering this is deliberately made to look like a 16-bit side scroller.
The only downside is that there are so few levels and the standard difficulty means these can be breezed through fairly quickly, but the developers have fortunately provided some incentive for completing this on hard, giving you an extra new bonus fighter to unlock for your next run. Other than this, though, it’s the perfect piece of nostalgic fun dressed in new clothes.