Out now (EU)/Release Date TBC (US), Version Played: Switch (£16.99)

I pride myself on having a near-encyclopaedic knowledge of certain eras in gaming; having frequented arcades on such a regular basis in the late 80s and early 90s, I thought I’d seen or at least heard of almost everything that was around at the time.

I’d assumed that The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors was a loving homage to the arcade beat ’em ups of that wonderful era, with its ninja cyborg protagonists striding fighting their way through military bases, dilapidated subway stations and crime-ridden urban areas, all with superbly animated pixel art and satisfyingly period appropriate soundtrack.

Turns out I was wrong; the first clue appearing even before the game started, with Taito’s logo giving the game away somewhat. There was an arcade original in 1987, simply called ‘The Ninja Warriors’ – and which, rather spectacularly for it’s time, used three screens to display the action.

The arcade game received a SNES sequel in 1994, known in Japan as ‘The Ninja Warriors Again’, but in other territories just as ‘The Ninja Warriors’. It’s the SNES sequel that’s been remastered here, with enhancements, as ‘The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors’.

What’s interesting is that I’d usually worry that nostalgia would cloud my judgement when playing a remaster or re-release of a classic game; the memories evoked by simply playing the game again not allowing me to give the game an unbiased assessment.

Not having even heard of this game before, however, there was no chance of that on this occasion. And you know what? I’ve had an absolute blast with The Ninja Saviors.

There are three ninjas to choose from when you start (a further two can be unlocked later). Each plays incredibly differently and it’s worth experimenting until you find the one that suits your playstyle. What they do have in common is that they’re all cyborgs, they’re all ninjas, they’re all beautifully drawn and animated – and they all kick ass.

Though there are only seven stages – all of which are relatively short, by modern standards – other modes, including co-op, add to the basic experience. To conquer the game, you’ll need to get through the levels from the beginning to the end in one sitting, unless you take advantage of the available continues when your ninja dies.

There’s an astonishing range of attacks available for each ninja to use in the 2D levels (which take place on one side-scrolling plane, unlike a game such as Final Fight, for example – rather than making the action feel restricted, however, in my opinion it simply feels more focused); I was really taken aback by the variety of moves on offer. It gives the game a real depth and a tactical edge that I didn’t expect, which is particularly useful when facing off against the ridiculously oversized and OTT bosses.

It all adds up to an authentic feeling, classic arcade experience; one that has been fine tuned to perfection in terms of its visuals, audio and gameplay. Though it may seem a little pricey for such a relatively short game, it’s been given an absolutely beautiful lick of paint and it really is superb; if 90s arcade beat ’em ups are your thing, I’d urge you to check out The Ninja Saviors – it’s well worth your time.

Many thanks to PR Hound for providing me with the Ninja Saviors review code.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this – or any of my other content – it’d be much appreciated if you’re able to share this article via social media. I’d also be forever grateful if you’re able to support me via: Ko-Fi.com/geekmid – which would assist me in writing even more content just like this. Above all else though, thanks for reading – I truly appreciate it!


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