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Ninja Baseball Bat Man

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Released: 1993

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Irem

Developer: Irem

We’re often asked not to judge books by their covers, and I don’t. Who needs to see the whole cover when a name is so often sufficient? Ninja Baseball Bat Man is a perfect example. Here’s a game that revolves around a character whose combat style incorporates classical Japanese spy arts and the unsubtle blunt force assault that only sporting equipment can adequately deliver. I don’t care what else is going on, this is clearly something I want to be involved with.

Thankfully, unlike the various other games I’ve acquired because of their amusing names (Bionic Granny and Ninjabread Man being the most notable examples), Irem’s scrolling beat-’em-up is actually a good game. Your titular hero is a versatile fighter with a variety of attacks, from a standard bat combo to a special swing, jumping kicks and even a desperate slide. What’s more, it’s an enormously pretty game – it’s colourful and features some absolutely enormous enemies, particularly the towering bosses. The game’s awesome cartoonish style helps to convey the sense of humour, too. You can go from lobbing a home plate at animated catcher’s mitt to fighting a gigantic man made of balls, and then on to mowing down baddies in a car.

In fact, apart from the occasional super-damaging boss attack that seems designed to siphon the coins from your pocket, the only thing wrong with Ninja Baseball Bat Man is the lack of a home conversion. After all, with a name like that, how could it fail to sell?