48k cassette £2.99
heard complaints that there are far too many martial arts games
about. Fortunately, the Atari market isn't quite as saturated with
them as most other computers and there is certainly room for another
- particularly when it's of the quality of this latest release from
NINJA - a sort of oriental Rambo - is the latest in
computer heroes. He is a man alone, on a life or death mission to
rescue the Princess Di-Di who is held prisoner in the mysterious
Palace of Pearls. He will face many tough adversaries - who are also
clever exponents of the marshal arts - as he strives to save the
Princess and, in addition to this, he must gather up several idols
which she has dropped and return them to her to prove his worth.
Yes, it's near impossible to please a Princess these days. You risk
life and limb to rescue them and they're not happy unless you woo
them with a few presents as well!
Not content with having hands and feet which should
be registered as lethal with the Eastern branch of Interpol, Ninja
has several weapons at his disposal such as a slashing Samurai
sword, spinning death stars, and a throwing dagger. To balance
things up, these weapons are also granted to his opponents.
Things kick off with one of those typically oriental
music scores - you know the kind I mean? - which, to my ears, sound
as tuneful as a Max Bygraves LP. Nevertheless, it is catchy in a
weird sort of way and sets the mood for the rest of the game. The
graphics are neat and tidy with plenty of bright colours - a rare
commodity in a high percentage of recent Atari games as new
programmers can't seem to handle more than the regulation number of
colours. Good, fast animation is probably the thing most people look
for in karate games though - there's no point in having a punching,
kicking, all-action Ninja if he moves around with all the agility of
a rusty Dalek! - and the animation here is well up to scratch. Not
quite in the same league as System 3/Epyx's 'World Karate
Championships', but that's another story and another review.
NINJA scores high on playability. The key joystick
moves are less complex than on most other games of this type and the
difficulty level is just about right too. In the initial stages, the
opponents don't put up much of a fight - a quick 'banzai' with the
old sword and they crumble to dust (or 'splodge' to be more
accurate) before your very eyes - but once you start having to
tackle two and three of these brutes at a time you'll wonder if the
Princess is worth all the hassle!
Although I can't fault the game itself, the
instructions could have been better. For instance, you have to leap
up through trapdoors in the ceiling to gain access to other rooms,
but the instructions don't mention this. I spent ages wandering
around like a one-legged Dodo on the lower levels before I
accidentally stumbled across the secret of those trapdoors!
Mastertronic's games are improving with each new
release. Their programmers are fast learning the subtleties of the
Atari to produce top quality games at staggeringly low prices. Even
at normal prices NINJA would have rated excellent value for money.
At £2.99 you won't get a better bargain than this.