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Ninja Gaiden

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Released: 1992

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: SIMS

While readers in North America are likely familiar with the Ninja Gaiden games for the NES as being good but rather difficult platformers, here in Europe that’s much less common. Why? Well, the games were called Shadow Warriors over here, and the NES wasn’t as popular here. When we finally got games bearing the Ninja Gaiden name, they were Sega releases on the Game Gear and Master System – and in the case of the latter, it was a belter.

The Master System version of Ninja Gaiden plays much like the NES ones, but the levels are all-new and the story is different too (though admittedly, rather bland). The main differences are that Ryu Hayabusa can only hang from platforms rather than climbing underneath them, and his wall-climbing ability has been replaced with a wall-jump akin to that in the 3D Ninja Gaiden games. Beyond that, it’s the same deal – slice up baddies, occasionally use some special techniques, and don’t get killed.

Ninja Gaiden arrived at a time when the general quality of Master System games was at an all-time high, and this shows through in the game’s excellent visuals and high quality soundtrack – the first stage in particular has a real earworm of a tune, one of the best on the console. Whether you’re a NES gamer wondering what you’ve missed or a Master System enthusiast, we’d recommend Ninja Gaiden highly – just be prepared to pay a little, as it’s not the cheapest game these days.

Ninja Gaiden ranked 17th in Retro Gamer’s recent countdown of the top 25 Sega Master System games ever. If you’re wondering what the other 24 games are, be sure to pick up a copy of Retro Gamer issue 136 via ImagineShop.co.uk or GreatDigitalMags.com to find out!