Insert Disk collects Ninja Warriors for the Sega CD (Mega CD) (ニンジャウォーリアーズ).
Today we look back at Taito’s arcade classic, Ninja Warriors. Battle your way through the city as a cyborg ninja in this retro game review.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s episode. I’ve got a rather memorable game to look back at today. Ninja Warriors for the Sega CD. So is it worth adding to your collection? Let’s find out.
Originally a 1987 arcade release by Taito, Ninja Warriors was later ported to the Sega CD in 1993. However, this was a Japanese system exclusive. To get your hands on this one you will either have to import from Japan directly or go via the auction sites. In addition you will need the Japanese hardware to play this one on.
The game comes in a standard jewel case as was normal for Japanese releases of the time. The front cover artwork here is really nice with our heroes pulling some awesome ninja poses. The rear of the box gives an outline of the game and highlights that the soundtrack was performed by Zuntata, Taitos legendary in-house band. Inside the case there’s not too much to should about. Just a standard manual and the game disk. The manual is a good quality print and supports the game well. The game starts out with a very, very long cut scene explaining that our ninjas are actually cyborg ninjas sent on a mission to bring order back to the city. The voice acting is typically over the top and really cheesy but it does set the scene.
So, here’s level 1. The first thing you will notice is just how slow your ninja moves. The general aim is to progress from left to right so the limited speed is a bit of a hindrance. From either side the enemy will appear. Usually military with different pallete swaps but occasionally attack dogs or these strange hunchback-ninja-robots. You are armed with a simple blade as your main weapon but also have a limited number of throwing stars. These are particularly useful for certain boss fights. The boss fights range from anything from powered up ninjas to full size army tanks. Most of the trash mobs in the game a 1 hit to kill and it’s quite satisfying to slash through the hordes of attackers. However, the enemy only seem to make two different screams when killed so this does get a little repetitive. As does some of the gameplay itself. The general theme is stab the attackers, turn round stab the attackers behind you and then walk on a few paces and repeat.
The game feels very similar to earlier title “Green Beret” or “Rush ‘n Attack” depending on where you played it. It has some of the same gameplay issues as Green Beret too. At times you can be attacked simultaneously from both sides making it near impossible not to take damage. Graphically the game is quite well done and I have no major complaints. There’s certainly better looking games on the system but this game has chosen to try to replicate the earlier arcade aesthetic. The way your ninja degrades as they get injured adds to the overall look of the game. In the sound department it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The sound effects are few and far between and if I’m honest not up to the standard you would expect from a CD based game.
The music however is a completely different story. Taito’s Zuntata band have created a memorable soundtrack and the CD is well worth a listen even on its own. In many ways it feels that this game really is a music album with an average game added on as a bonus. I highly recommend checking out Zuntata’s work, it’s no wonder that the case gave so much space to the band rather than the game. Overall the game is at best only average. It’s fun for a while but the repetitive nature and overpowered boss fights somehow suck the fun from what should be an enjoyable experience.
In terms of pricing expect to get royally assaulted. As it stands at the moment here in the UK expect to pay anywhere between £50-£100 (add dollars) and likely a small amount of shipping on that too. The price of the game is a combination of being a Japanese exclusive, an original Zuntata album and the general volume of copies available. On a side note the SNES version CIB currently has an asking price of £500 which is really quite excessive. For a much better option if you would like to get this one in your collection, try the Amiga version at just £9.99 CIB. It’s faster, brighter and the soundtrack is also a really excellent conversion (one of the best in my opinion). This is the game as it should be. Extra detail such as more graphic blood and sound effects have also been added.
As for the Japanese Sega CD exclusive. Well, it’s down to a matter of vanity I’m afraid. I obviously have this one in my collection but it’s more as what I would call a “trophy” piece. It’s largely just a semi-rare game to have for display. I’m certain that I would part with my copy for the right price. Having said that I don’t want to sound too harsh on the game, it is more than playable, the two player mode adds extra fun and the soundtrack is outstanding. I think that if you are set on completing a Taito game collection or a Zuntata fan this is a must buy game. If you are more of a casual retro collector looking for a gem I would steer clear of this one and go for the overall better package on the Commodore Amiga.
One thing that is worth mentioning as a last note is that the Sega CD version has the rather creepy Zuntata music video prologue which can be accessed via the main menu. It’s one of the strangest extras you will find on the Sega CD. I’ll play you out with a sample.