Ninja Gaiden SMS Review
That's right, Ninja Gaiden for the SEGA Master System. Many of you may not have known this version existed or even what a Master System is and that's because it was a much more popular system in Europe so as such that's where this game was originally released. The good news however is that the Master System has no region lockout so games that were produced in Europe, Asia and even South America up until the late 1990s are all playable on any unit.
Then how does it stack up against its more popular installments? Well firstly, the Master System's audio chipset is very basic so can't easily create the square wave forms which gives NES music its slight amount of reverberation. Basically this means NES music is generally less shrill so more pleasant to the ears. That being said however, Ninja Gaiden for the Master System has a kicking soundtrack anyway. It's catchy, varied and energetic and because of that, you're always ready to have another try after losing a life.
As for what the Master System is, it was SEGA's competing platform against Nintendo's NES and like many others at the time, it didn't do well here because of Nintendo of America's illegal practices in the late 1980s. These practices prevented other hardware manufacturers from getting third party support like that from Tecmo who gave Nintendo its well known Ninja Gaiden trilogy. Tecmo instead gave SEGA the rights to produce their own Ninja Gaiden game in-house that later released in 1992. That version is not a port of the NES games either, it is its own stand alone title. And this is what I am talking about today.
And while the audio hardware may be subjectively weaker than that of the NES, the Master System's graphical capabilities are far superior. Ninja Gaiden shows that fairly well with rich colors and a frenetic pace that is night and day when compared to its Nintendo based counterparts. This is important because a game like Ninja Gaiden involves crack reflexes and timing when jumping from platform to platform so it's very good that I experienced no flickering or slowdown during my play through either.
Neither is it hampered by crippling controls. Like other 8-bit Ninja Gaiden games you may have played, this one involves running, jumping from platforms or walls and slashing your way through to a boss fight and next level until completion. It all feels great. You can also pick up a variety of special items along the way to make your journey easier such as shields, bombs, projectiles etc. which also helps because like all Ninja Gaiden games, this one can be very difficult.
It was a wise choice on the part of the developers to include unlimited continues or I may not have even seen the end for my review. That makes a tough game still a fair game and definitely a fun game when you throw good music, good art and tight controls into the mix as well. If you're interested in playing this game for yourself then it can be purchased on eBay. Amazon or through your local vintage gaming boutique. Unfortunately it is not yet available through any official digital download service but if it ever is, we here at AllGoodThings.tv will be on top of it.