The Ninja Warriors is a game that has kept coming back. It appeared first in 1987 in arcades, the TurboGrafx-16 and PC, then was remade for the Super NES in 1994. Now, it has happened again. The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is the third look at a classic sort of beat’em up and, as with each version, the new additions are what make this look at a familiar beat’em up notable.
As with past versions of The Ninja Warriors, The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors follows a group of intelligent ninja robots. Kamaitachi, Kunoichi, and Ninja are all immediately available as the game begins, heading out to fight through eight levels to try and topple the tyrant Banglar in the name of a rebel group. It is an incredibly demanding sort of game, where you really have to work out what sorts of attacks are best in different areas, take advantage of things like Kunoichi’s speed and Kamaitachi’s flurry of blades, and make sure you constantly build up your power meter so your special is ready when you need it. You can really feel its roots in the sort of arcade game where people would need to go in with a whole roll of quarters to help them learn how to play and beat the game.
One thing that has consistently happened with each new version of The Ninja Warriors is more characters. The original game only had Kunoichi and Ninja, with the former having a kick that could attack in front, then behind, and the latter with a jet boost attack that sends him across the screen. She’s the more all-around unit, while the Ninja is there for attacks that have real weight to them. With the Super NES remake, Kaimaitachi appeared. This was a speedier ninja who had throws, instead of grabs, and more attacks that focus on quickly fighting. For The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors, Raiden and Yaksha are added as unlockables
These two new allies have their benefits and downsides. Both Raiden and Yaksha are two totally different sorts of characters who fill different roles in the cast that aren’t already covered. Raiden is a huge, lumbering robot that is the same size as many of the giant bosses you’ll face in the game. The character can use devastating melee attacks, but also has a melee mode fro ranged ones. Yaksha is the sort of character who relies on getting close to an enemy and grabbing them to launch into a combo, but she does have some very helpful aerial attacks that allow her to attack from a distance from above. However, both must be unlocked. Yaksha appears in the list after you beat the game once on the normal difficulty. This also unlocks the hard mode, which you’ll need to defeat to unlock Raiden. Considering how challenging the game is to begin with, getting Raiden could take quite a bit of time as someone learns the game’s intricacies.
While the new characters take some effort to earn, the other new additions don’t require as much effort to earn and enjoy. All of the character sprites look better this time around, which is immediately noticeable. Also, if you have a friend nearby, the local multiplayer mode lets two people start jumping into the adventure immediately. You still have to be cautious though, as the two players share the same armor and battery bars, which means it isn’t like other beat’em ups where having a second player around could suddenly give you an edge or have one person left behind to save the day. When you’re done, you’re both done. But, since you do have someone else around, it does make things a bit more manageable. There are even other unlockables, like the soundtracks from the original 1987 and 1994 releases.
The good things about beat’em ups is getting to experiment with different characters to see how they work for you, learning to use them effectively, mastering levels, and playing with friends. The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors offers people all of those things. Some unlocking may be involved, in the case of the two new warriors, but it is a great game for people who enjoy nostalgic romps and want to head back into battle with these robots again.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is available on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.