tiistai 28. helmikuuta 2012

REVIEW - Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (1995)

GENRE(S): Compilation
RELEASED: August 1995

DEVELOPER(S): Team Ninja


What sells for up to five hundred and fifty bucks on eBay, and its sole purpose on this planet is to make you weep? Ninja Gaiden? Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos? Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom? Or a SNES cartridge that bears the curses of all of the aforementioned games? Welcome to hell. This time, there's a password.

Three times the slaughter

After Tecmo had finished making Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom for the NES and the "spin-off title" Ninja Gaiden Shadow for the Game Boy, Sega grabbed the Ninja Gaiden license from them for a spell. Tecmo had previously given them the license for a Game Gear installment simply known as Ninja Gaiden, and yet another game simply called Ninja Gaiden was released in 1992 on the Sega Master System. A 16-bit Ninja Gaiden for the Sega Genesis, influenced by the original arcade game, went in development around that same time, but it was never finished. In 1995, Tecmo took Ninja Gaiden back, and by the end of the summer, they fixed the error of not having a 16-bit Ninja Gaiden installment by re-releasing the NES trilogy on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

It's as fun as always. Can't stand the xylophone,
The graphics and sound are honestly the only things that have been revamped about these three games, and not always for the better. The graphical facelift of the game is just about the most easy and quick facelift ever seen, the death tune in Ninja Gaiden II is strangely replaced with the death tune from some other game I can't name just now - it's REALLY familiar, it's like from a nightmare... which it most likely is - and the soundtrack is filled with some really awkward remixes of classic tunes. I was expecting some hot molten metal riffs to rip through the 4-2 theme in the first game, but no - it's a freakin' xylophone remix. Xylophone. This isn't a Disney game, this is Ninja Gaiden! Hiyah! Hack, slash, kill! Not bounce, yay, uh-oh!

Gone with the wind.
But, let's think things through, honestly and as unfocused on the audiovisuals of this collection as one possibly can - I mean, which child or young adult of the 8-bit generation wouldn't bash the collection for the audiovisuals? It's all about them, all of it. In terms of gameplay, the games are EXACTLY the same as they were before. Not even the controls have been changed, we're only using A and B. All of the three games suffer from the very same mechanical quirks that always plagued them, there's no raising the bar to Ninja Gaiden III's standards, or a whole new one. But, there are things that make them perhaps even more fun to PLAY - such as a password system, and the chance to pick your game instead of having to (attempt to) clash through all three of them. In Ninja Gaiden III's case, the fun doesn't end there.

Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
returns better than ever.
The original U.S. version of Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom had an extremely unforgiving life bar, that had 16 health points on display, but only 8 in use. The difficulty level of Ninja Gaiden III in this package has been reverted back to that of the Japanese version, which makes the game a whole lot playable than it was on the NES. Not much easier due to many of the game's greatest challenges lying in the level design, but much more playable, and a better all-around game than the original, by many points. The same can't be said for the other two games. I think nothing can piss on the original game, so it's just as good as it always was despite some problems with the framerate (that recur throughout the trilogy), and the second one is just as lukewarm as it always was. Making just one game strike me as being better than the original is quite an accomplishment, though.

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy is one of the rarest SNES cartridges there is, and the irony of it all is that the collection was never released in Europe, until it was made an unlockable bonus item in the 2004 Ninja Gaiden reboot. I think a European release would've brought some sense into the picture. Why a collection, and not a whole new 16-bit game, I wonder? Whatever - it's good. Today is a good day to die dead enough.

+ One bonafide classic
+ One decent game
+ One game that soars to new spheres thanks to a seemingly small tweak
+ The simple password system 

- A quicker and more generic series of remakes than I thought, in comparison to other late 16-bit ports and remakes of the time (ie. Super Mario All-Stars)
- An occasionally slow framerate, and other miscellaneous graphical issues
- The soundtrack is botched with horrible remixes

< 8.4 >

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