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The Ninja Kids

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Released: 1990

Genre: Beat-’em-up

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Tatio Corp.

Developer: Taito Corp.

Submitted by: Lee Tatlock

I've been playing through my Taito Legends and Taito Legends 2 compilations on PS2 (again) and I have to say that I dig part 2 far more. I mean when you mix the words Taito and Legends you're instantly bringing up Images of Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands, Space Invaders and Parasol Stars but ‘The Ninja Kids’ rarely jumps to mind (and nor does Tube It, Continental Circus or Plump Pop) but still there it is on a disc of supposed 'Legends.' So what's the score, is it a hidden gem or a steaming pile of gaming botty sausages?

First thing that might hit you about the game is the strange marionette style character design. This looks like Sesame Street if it was designed by junkies and chimps…that also have drug problems. I mean just because I’m a graphic designer by trade doesn't mean I expect high art with everything, but this looks like that gremlin who got microwaved – if someone was sick on it then set it on fire and put it out with a pint of acid, but stupid design aside how does it play? Well it's a bit stodgy if all be told, I mean it's not a total dud but neither is it high speed thrills from beginning to end. Firstly you get one of four extremely unattractive character prospects so it winds up being a choice of weapon, I like the blue sword guy cause his blade lets off a mid range beam of energy. Each of these hairless, Deformed, Fozzy Bear looking freaks has the obligatory uber-power to unleash and replenished by collecting scrolls. Each of these powers is nothing new or exciting, perhaps the wind power (yes they're element based…yawn) guy’s ghosts flinging curved bladed is the most interesting, but it's still a bit bum.

So the game commences and the levels scrolls along with your enemies coming at you head on, as per usual, but your enemies here are rather unusually a load of Satanists. Now I hear you, retro brothers and sisters, how can ninjas versus Satanists make a rubbish game? Well play this and find out how mediocre an awesome concept can be executed. There are changes in pace when you mooch up buildings dodging spiders (also presumably Satanists) and hack away at weird Ku-Klux-Klan looking guys but this does little to change the pace – it just helps the crud run uphill.

I don't really like ripping things to bits but Ninja Kids needs a good kicking for even pretending to be a legend on a compilation by a company with such stellar releases. So in conclusion steer clear of this if you're looking for a stunner 'cause this just doesn’t cut the Dijon.