The Ninja Saviors – Return of the Warriors is a reboot of “The Ninja Warriors Again”, developer by TAITO for the 90s Super Nintendo. It is a side-scrolling beat ’em up platform game developed by NATSUME ATARI Inc. and published by ININ Games. It was released on the PS4 and Switch in Europe on 30th August and in North America 15th October.
Being a published author, I am always a sucker for a good story. Story is mainly what keeps me entertained and interested in a game. Yes, gameplay, graphics and sound also play vital roles, but if the story is great, faults in the other categories can largely be ignored.
So when I started playing The Ninja Saviors – Return of the Warriors on the Switch, I wondered if there was a story at all. From the moment you start playing, you sort of just start fighting. I guess that was how arcade games were back in the day. Press Enter, start bashing buttons.
However, there is actually small story to the game. Set in the 90’s, a megalomaniac of a US President (no, not Trump) has declared martial law. The world is collapsing under his rule, until a small rebellious group create a team of cyborgs or androids in a last ditch effort to save the planet.
Enter Player 1. You get to choose one of three cyborgs. When you complete normal and then hard mode, you unlock two new cyborgs that were not available in the original game and have been added as a treat for this remastered version. Stages are set as side-scrolling, 2D beat em up arenas, which are very short. It almost reminds me of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade games of the 80’s, with maybe a small flavour of G.I. Joe.
As this is a remake of the old SNES game, I guess those who have played it back then would be excited at a return of this game. As a first timer myself, I was kind of hoping for a bit more when it comes to the story, and at least something to keep me interested in the characters themselves. However, I won’t be too hard on the story, knowing that it is simply a remake of an older game.
Lack of an interesting story aside, getting back into an old-styled arcade beat ’em up is extremely fun. To think, I used to love going to the local game center and slot in coins just to beat up some goonies. Now we get to do that in the comfort of our homes, all day long if we want.
The gameplay is much in the old style arcade fashion. One button jumps, another hits, another unlocks the ultimate ability. And the Switch is perfect for such simplicity. I love that there is a co-op mode, something I have heard the original lacked when I researched the game. The armour battery bar is shared between players in co-op mode though, so if your teammate sucks, you will regrettably die with him / her.
I do love that when you die, you can select a new character and continue from the previous checkpoint. This sort of strategy was aimed at selecting the right character for the situation you find yourself in. Each character has their own abilities and fighting style, so it is important to pick up which style works best.
There is also an online mode, but sadly you cannot play co-op with that. There is also an online leaderboard where you can compare yourself to others around the world. With short gameplay and only a few stages, I am not sure how much time one would spend replaying the game except to unlock the new characters. Those who love speedruns will surely get a kick out of this.
The game has been labelled as a remake of the original with enhanced graphics. As I’ve never played the original, I cannot attest to this fact. I could just google images that compare the too, but I still wouldn’t be able to base it on any personal experience.
The graphics are solid though for a remake of an old arcade game. The Switch brings the game to life in your hands, with a good user interface to show your armour and ability power line. For anyone in the mood for a nostalgic trip back to arcade gaming, this game is attractive in the sense that everything runs smoothly with some awesome scenes and boss battles. And the extra characters are also a great touch.
The remixed soundtrack is fun too, also reminiscent of old arcade days long past. There is also the availability of the original soundtrack that can be unlocked. At least the sound is crisp and clear, and not like some remade games where it sounds muffled and old. And back are the classic battle sounds, the “ooh” and “aah” and “haai-yah” that we all became accustomed to as arcade gaming children.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors caters to those who love going back to the old arcade games with the remake of this classic game. Even though I never played the original, as a newbie I still enjoyed beating the hell out of the AI that played out in front of me. Although there is no real depth to the story, the main focus is the arcade beat ’em up style that has been successfully remade. There is also a host of extra content that fans will enjoy.
On the downside, the game is short in terms of stages. Also, longevity is questionable, depending on how much you will enjoy replaying the game over and over again for the sake of nostalgia or to compete online for the best scores.
Although I gave the game a high score of 8/10, the questions remains of whether it is worth the retail price of $20 in the Nintendo store. I’ll be honest, if I saw this in a local shop at that price, I wouldn’t have picked it up and am therefore grateful for a review code for it. But that’s only because I never played the original and am not part of the fanbase. For those who simply adore arcade games and who are fans of the original, I would say that $20 would definitely be worth the price, as it is a solidly enjoyable title.
**PLEASE NOTE: AIR Entertainment were supplied with a review copy of the game. This has in no way influenced my views on the game as per our Review Policy**