I'm a sucker for Ninja games, as a youth, instead of learning the appropriate social skills, I honed my ninja skills playing games like "Shinobi", and "Ninja Gaiden". There is just something so satisfying about a good 2D scrolling ninja platform, hack'em up game, especially when done correctly. As you can imagine, when I discovered "Ninja Spirit" on Console Classix for the TG-16 console, it was like Christmas. Not because "Ninja Spirit" offers some new kind of ninja gaming experience, or a huge advancement in depth and gameplay. "Ninja Spirit" doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but what it does do it does extremely well. Bliss in simplicity is something every true ninja can appreciate.
As Moonlight, you pursue the half-man half-beast ninja that you witnessed kill your father (every good ninja story is rooted in revenge). That's it. That's the story. You want a story with more meat? Read Shogun by James Clavell (seriously read it, it's a classic). As previously stated the beauty of "Ninja Spirit" is its simplicity, like a lone cherry blossom flower petal floating on the surface of a tranquil pond, this game doesn't need bells and whistles to be profound.
The "Ninja Spirit" port to the TG-16 offers two different modes. In PC engine mode, the player is afforded three continues, and a number in the upper right hand corner that is kind of like a life bar, except it is represented with a number, that number begins at 5. Typically when Moonlight takes a hit the number will decrease by 1, however there are enemies (especially in later rounds) that can deplete Moonlight's life bar in one hit, killing him. Arcade mode is for the Black Mambas of the ninja world. While in the Arcade mode the player is afforded three continues, however there will be no life counter bar visible and the player will die in one hit.
"Ninja Spirit" is a maverick, pure and simple. While it bears all of the appearance of a typical side-scrolling platform game, its mechanics are unreal. Moonlight can jump to nearly the top of the screen, and the controls still remain tight and ever so responsive. The upward slash of Moonlights katana (named Righteous Cloud) is fluid, and somehow infinitely more satisfying than a stab or downward crescent attack. While there are multiple weapons available in "Ninja Spirit", the sword reigns supreme as it has the ability to deflect enemy projectiles.
Moonlight must fight his way through seven stages of woodlands, swamps, cliffs, temples, and wastelands to find his father's killer. At the end of each stage lurks a boss (some filling the entire screen) that must be defeated to progress to the next stage. The difficulty of the bosses increases exponentially as levels progress. Each round is packed with an army of enemies that will keep your ninja extremely active, and will have you camped on the edge of your seat with white knuckles.
There are multiple weapons and power-ups that can assist Moonlight in his pursuit of revenge. Moonlight starts the game with his Hitori Hanzo made (I'm assuming) katana sword. He can also get shurikens, good for attacking at a distance, bombs, which are extremely powerful, and a sickle and chain, which provides an attack with some measure of range. Power-ups appear throughout the game as a piece of paper with a colored ball on it. The color of the ball determines the type of power-up. Flashing red balls will power up Moonlights equipped weapon. Non-flashing red balls destroy all enemies on the screen. Blue power-ups grant the player a shadowed double. Yellow power-ups will place a fire shield around Moonlight (and his doubles).
|Up||Direct weapon attack up|
|Down||Crouch / direct weapon attack|
|Left||Move left / direct weapon attack|
|Right||Move right / direct weapon attack|
|I||Jump, tap for small jump, press for high jump|