Developers and publishers have gotten a lot of criticism for the number of ports and remaster we’ve seen over the years. Without getting into a long debate about what is and is not acceptable, I am personally delighted a number of games have found new life on home consoles. With countless, maybe not classic, but certainly enjoyable games, being lost to the ages, it’s always a small win when a company gives new players a chance to experience something from the past. The latest in this long series of games is The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors. With it being a rather well-known beat ‘em up from the old arcade days, it has the tools to succeed in a modern console. However, with it being a tad dated, is it good enough to be worth revisiting like The Simpsons or is it a title that should’ve been remastered instead?
There is little to no story in The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors. Basically, a couple of robots were made to overthrow the evil dictator Banglar, resulting in a journey through a number of cliché ‘80s bosses before the final confrontation. In some ways, it’s almost so representative of the time that it’s comical. There is a giant robot, a military man with an eye patch. A weird gimmicky mutant, the martial arts master and, of course, a friendly alien named Zelos.
Jokes aside, it is not that surprising of a cast for a game like this. What is surprising is how dated it feels. While anything in the game can be overlooked because that is how it was back then, controls and mechanics are never explained. This is fine for the arcade not to do this, though I wouldn’t be shocked if the cabinet actually had a how to play document, options only tell you how to attack, jump and use your special. It does not tell you every character has a unique ability, what that ability is, that there are special jumping moves and that it is possible to block. An odd choice when a simple how-to-play page could explain literally everything or at least the core mechanics and make it easier for players to get a grasp on how it works.
Tutorial or not, the core mechanics are pretty simple. You can move, not run, punch, jump, use a special, grab certain objects or enemies and fight your way to the end. Characters also have specific advantages and disadvantages, like the Kunoichi can throw shurikens and jump high, the newly added Yaksha has little to no jump or throwing range but can do a cool grab and slam attack, Ninja can rush, fly for a brief period and do a nice 180-degree attack and so forth. Each one offers a slightly different experience, even if the core ideas are the same.
Success hinges less on your ability to move forward and more on whether or not you know what to do. The hardest enemies require more than mindlessly punching, which is why certain bosses can kill a run. It’s once you know what to do or how to avoid damage to spam special attacks that The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors becomes possible. Though, losing will not start you at your current point and will actually send you back before a boss fight or to a specific checkpoint, meaning you actually need the skill to win the fight.
Where things start to fall apart is value. Despite including offline multiplayer, the only online mechanic is a leaderboard. Losing automatically kills your time and it comes down to how much you actually care about proving you’re the best. The new characters are different, just not to the point where they’re game-changers. So, really, you get a nice loader, ability to load specific levels and pick more characters but it’s still a title that can be completed in under an hour, with reply value depending on whether or not you want trophy/achievements, to see both unlockable characters and/or leaderboard rank.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is, at best, okay. It’s the type of game you’ll probably play a couple of times and never touch again. With a lack of explanations and arguably difficult situations, it doesn’t encourage replayability. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun, but not fun like The Simpsons arcade or X-Men. Still, if you really want to revisit a past title or just love the genre, it isn’t anything special.
[Editor’s Note: The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]