03rd Sep2019

‘The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

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I absolutely ADORE side-scrolling beat ‘em-ups. Like REALLY love them. Really. Which is why I’ve got tons of the ACA Neo Geo/Arcade titles on my Switch, alongside the Capcom Beat ‘Em-Up collection plus a whole heap more titles on the PS4. It’s one genre that I love and one genre that had, until this current generation, seemingly faded into somewhat obscurity. After all, the 126-but era, even the 32-bit era, had a plethora of side-scrolling beat ‘em-ups. Games like Streets of Rage and Final Fight – two kings of the genre that spawned numerous games but also franchises that never really escaped the 16-bit landscape. We’ve had plenty of updated fighting games and beat em-ups updated, remade and re-released but it seems the side-scroller was dead… Until now.

In very recent years the genre has had a resurgence on PCs and consoles, mainly due to the fact that indie developers have been making the kinds of games they used to, and loved, playing back in the day. Those games found success and with success comes money – at least in the eyes of the big game distributors. And so the side-scrolling beat em-up is back – with new games like Raging Justice (one of the best modern examples of the genre) and River City Girls; and old franchises, like Streets of Rage (which is coming back for a 4th outing) hitting consoles.

But what happens if you combine the retro gaming aspect of the indie games that got us to this point, a new-found love of the side-scrolling beat em-up genre, and a company that hasn’t really made a hit games in years..? You get The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors.

For those old enough to remember, The Ninja Warriors was a massive 80s side-scrolling beat em-up arcade game from Taito that featured an ultra-wide display and ultra-wide play area. In the 90s the game received a sequel, The Ninja Warriors Again, on the Super Nintendo and thus game is both a sequel to the original AND a remake of the SNES title. Only is got a weird new name outside of Japan (where it’s called The Ninja Warriors Once Again) but everything else has pretty much – graphics aside – stayed the same. The same being damn near-perfection! Plus, for those of us in the UK (and Europe) this version of the game is completely uncut, including the option to change the color of the hit effects to red and includes enemies which were not in the Western Super Nintendo version at that time – in short this release is not subject to the censorship we suffered back in the day; the same censorship that turned the men of Contra in the robots of Probotector!

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The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors features five playable characters with a plethora of individual moves, with two completely new faces joining the team (unlockable, as you play): female android Yaksha, with telescopic arms performing unpredictable moves and Raiden, a colossal android weighing a whopping 70548 lbs. All the characters in this game all feel very different and play different – the big characters are slow but powerful and smaller characters can dodge and move faster than enemies at times; and it all depends on your particular play style which character is right for you.

Unfortunately the game only features a total of eight levels, which you can tackle in single or co-op mode, which means some might not see the value in terms of sheer playtime vs monetary cost but, but… Given that each character plays differently, you can actually play through The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors five times and get a different experience every time. And you’ll want to play through this game multiple times just to appreciate the graphics, which are the epitome of a good, nay great, remaster. Slick, colourful and the perfect update of the 90s style arcade/console graphics, this game looks stunning both in handheld and docked mode.

Best of all? The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors marks the return of the Taito brand to the gaming landscape; and next up for them is a NEW Bubble Bobble game, the first new game in the franchise in years. And after just how good this remaster/remake turned out, I can see plenty of people clamouring to play that one too!

**** 4/5

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is available on the Nintendo Switch, physically and digitally, in Europe now. The US release in on October 15th.

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