The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors – Switch Review!

TAITO has been known for creating amazing video games such as Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, and Space Invaders, since the early 1970’s. In 1987, TAITO brought us The Ninja Warriors, a side scrolling action game for the arcade venues, and later on, the home consoles. The arcade version included a 3 screen display for players to enjoy their ninja action in a unique wide-screen format.

In The Ninja Warriors arcade game, you controlled 1 of 2 robotic ninjas created by an anarchist group led by Mulk. The ninjas were built to assassinate Banglar, the Tyrant president of the United States, who has issued martial law and given total control to the military.

On October 15th, TAITO released The Ninja Saviors: Return of The Warriors in North America on the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 home consoles. This release was a reboot of their 1994 sequel, also titled The Ninja Warriors, which was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Instead of going with a modern art style, TAITO chose to remain faithful to the original release and keep the 16-bit art style while improving on the actual game resolution and animations.

With many companies bringing older 2D titles to modern consoles with 3D character models, I’m quite happy that TAITO didn’t go the same route. Sure, the game might look good if a lot of effort was put into the 3D models, but that has not been the case with many of the reboots from other companies. The character animations in The Ninja Saviors are quite smooth and the background artwork is fantastic. I’ll take gorgeous 2D artwork over mediocre 3D character models any day of the week!

The Ninja Saviors include 5 ninjas for you to pick from, with 3 being available from the beginning. Each ninja has their own move set which consists of basic attacks, aerial attacks, specials, etc. One example would be the red ninja, who is able to unleash a round of shurikens in front of her by spending some of her stored up battery power. The ninjas are also able to block many attacks, as well as pick up various objects in a stage to use against their adversaries.

The game consists of 8 stages, each more challenging than the last. As you progress into the later stages, previously defeated bosses are thrown into the mix to push your skills to their limits. With how challenging the game can get, you need to make sure your reflexes are as fast as ever. During my play-through, I didn’t notice any major frame-rate issues and the character movement seemed to be on point. The load time between stages was minimal as well, which is always a good thing.

Another addition to the title are online leaderboards and a Time Attack mode. In the SNES title, you had a timer that counted down in each stage that you were in, pushing you to complete the stage before it hit 0. With the reboot, the counter is now going up. If you can beat the game without dying (as you only get 1 life before having to re-pick your ninja), your time will be uploaded to see where you rank against fellow ninjas. Since you only have the 1 life to get onto the leaderboards per run, you’ll want to utilize the items placed throughout the stages to help replenish your health and battery power. As you complete each stage in normal mode, a time attack mode will unlock for that stage. This allows you to challenge each stage individually for the best time instead of going through all 8 stages each run.

The game does have 2 difficulty modes, normal and hard. Hard mode is locked when you first start the game, but will unlock after you’ve beaten normal mode at least once. The game also allows you to customize your controller buttons, which is something folks are always happy to see included. The developers included an option to enable / disable blood effects, which is something the SNES was known for having removed from many titles that were published to the console. While the SNES version was only a single player game, this reboot provides you with a local co-op mode so that you and a friend can unload some ninja mayhem on the enemies together.

The developers have included multiple high quality audio soundtracks in this reboot, but only 1 is available by default. Luckily the game tells you what you’ll need to do to unlock the other soundtracks for your listening enjoyment. Multiple language options are available as well for those who want to play the game in a language other than English.

The Ninja Saviors include a built-in manual which is a nice touch. The pages list each ninja’s move sets, so you don’t have to randomly press buttons to figure out which button does what. I am surprised that the manual shows off the character moves for the 2 hidden ninjas though right from the start, which essentially spoils what the 2 ninjas look like. I would have preferred that the manual hide those pages until the appropriate ninja was unlocked.

TAITO has done a wonderful job in bringing The Ninja Warriors to modern consoles with their reboot of the SNES classic. Even though the game can be completed within an hour or 2 once you’re familiar with everything, the unlockable difficulty modes & bonus characters help justify playing through the game multiple times.

Between the graphical improvements, audio soundtracks, new game play modes, online leaderboards, extra playable characters, and revised character move sets, this is one reboot you don’t want to miss out on. If you enjoyed The Ninja Warriors back in the day, or if you’re just looking for a challenging side-scrolling action game, make sure to check out The Ninja Saviors – Return of the Warriors!

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