Developer: Tengo Project
Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors, originally on the Super Nintendo, reboots a solid beat ’em up gaming experience, for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Rebooted games can be a hit or miss gaming experience, but luckily, Ninja Saviors deliveries a good gameplay experience. Ninja Saviors entertained me for a few hours, but it never made much of an impact on me because of the linear, railroad levels.
Ninja Saviors portrays fighting between cyborg ninja heroes and the soldiers/cyborgs of the evil presidential figure. The soldiers and enemy cyborgs use guns and explosive against the heroes, but whenever the heroes get hit, there is a brief plum of greenish blood; when the heroes die they explode into pieces. That same greenish blood comes out of the enemy units as well for some reason, which never really gets explained; when the enemies die they fall down and blink out of existence. I would recommend this game to teens and adults. Unfortunately, there was no rating that I could find at this time, but I would assume a ‘T for teen’ rating would fit the game.
The plot of Ninja Saviors is pretty basic and short, which is very typical of beat’em up games from the 90s. Almost all of the plots could be paired down to you being the good guy pitted against bad guys who need to be beaten up. Ninja Saviors takes place in a world taken over by Banglar, a short troll-looking presidential figure. Resistance forces trying to overthrow Banglar are losing and decide put their last hopes in a group of cyborg ninjas.
There are three heroes to choose from initially: Ninja, Kundichi, and Kamaitachi. Ninja Saviors effectively differentiates how the three heroes play. Ninja takes up the brutish role as a towering, bulky cyborg who moves slow and packs a huge punch. Playing Ninja feels like moving a tank, since he moves slowly and can’t jump at all without activating his jet attack. Kundichi and Kamaitachi both move like agile ninjas with Kamaitachi being the faster of the two.
All the heroes have basic attack combos as well as special attacks which are fueled by an energy bar at the bottom of the screen. When the energy bar fills part of the way, it can be used for a weapon attack, but when it fills up to the max, each hero has a special area effect attack that knocks everyone on the screen down, including bosses. It was fun to learn the different play styles for each hero because they are so different. Aside from these three heroes, there are also two more unlockable characters later in the game.
Ninja Saviors is a quintessential beat’em up game with very good controls, which allow the player to use the ‘d-pad’ or analog stick. Unlike other beat em’ up games, this game’s viewpoint lacks the isometric view which allows players to move up and down the lane or street they are fighting in. Ninja Saviors resembles a platformer with very 2D linear levels. It’s a shame that Ninja Saviors doesn’t have the more classic beat’em up design because there’s no challenge to keeping the enemies off the hero when they can only attack from two sides. In more traditional gameplay, enemies can surround the hero by moving at them from an angle. The levels felt just to linear, railroading the player along—which is hard in an open world era.
Graphically, the game looks pretty great with its 16-bit style updated with modern resolutions and quality animations. Even though the graphics look 16-bit, they are clean and bright, even when the enemies get stacked on top of each other, you can tell that they are all standing together. Since the enemies become stacked a lot, it helps to know the order in which they stand to be able to focus on specific enemies, as some take longer to defeat. The music and sound design add quality to the game; the music sounds original and fresh while the sound design keeps the action frantic. It feels like publisher took time to make all the necessary updates to the look and sound to appeal to modern gamers.
Some quality of life improvements to the game include an easily accessible manual and mid-level save points. The manual can be accessed through the pause menu, and it contains helpful visual directions on the attacks and combos for each hero. When the player starts a new run at the game, the time is tracked until they die; there’s an achievement for speed running the game. After dying, the player can choose to continue the level from a mid-save point, but from that point on, the time is no longer tracked. When the player gets to the boss, there is a save point right before the boss, which is convenient for defeating bosses since it can be hard to figure out their pattern. As the player defeats each level, even if they die during the level, levels get unlocked so that the players can choose to try and speed run a specific level. These are handy features since there is no way to change the difficulty. The only way to add more challenge is by speed running the game, which is, unfortunately, very short.
Ninja Saviors delivers a good gaming experience. While it would be nice if there were more content or a different layout, the game adds two player co-op, which was lacking in past editions of the game. Playing with my son was exciting because each of the heroes plays so differently. If you’re a gamer who enjoys a good beat ’em up, Ninja Saviors might be the game for you.
Review copy generously provided by PR Hound.
The Bottom Line
Ninja Saviors is a great beat 'em up game that has been rebooted with updated graphics and sound.