Ninja Senki is an indie game that is hot off its fifth anniversary, and Tribute is giving the title a re-release to extend the game’s reach to the Playstation 4, Playstation Vita and Steam audiences. The result is a DX version that brings an already quality platformer over to the marketplace with an appropriate injection of worthwhile bells and whistles.
Ninja Senki was dated as a 2010 release and introduced players to Hayate, a ninja returning to find Kinuhime slain by a mysterious ninja in white. Hayate swears katakiuchi, or “blood revenge,” on this enemy and sets out to destroy this evil legion and loot their treasures. These elements are key to the gameplay as they add the points that give Hayate health refills, extra lives and determines the ending players receive.
In line with the retro theme of the game, Hayate’s move set allows him to run, jump and rifle off shurikens, with his most “complicated” maneuver being a double jump. The brilliant level design in Ninja Senki finds different ways to test the player’s usage of the shooting and jumping mechanics.
With the tight, responsive controls and the jumping and shooting mechanics, comparisons to the game play of Mega Man are fair, despite the ninja and shuriken themes giving off Shinobi or Legend of Kage themes cosmetically. Ninja Senki is also comparable to Mega Man in its challenge, as tricky jumps and enemy placement test players increasingly throughout the game – and those one-hit-kill spikes make a few appearances too!
Ninja Senki was already visually pleasant with its varying and very colorful environments and cute character designs, but the DX version does up the ante a bit.
The HUD has been retooled to give players in-game information to tie into the new challenges and add in a few design touches. Characters that were recycled enemies in the original have been replaced with all-new designs that inject even more traditional lore to the Japanese mythology.
Since the meat of the core gameplay is untouched, perhaps the biggest actual change to the original game mode in DX is the overhauled soundtrack. The chip tune inspired track sounded great the first time around, and the new arrangement adds more layers to the tunes to really flesh them out while staying true to the source.
For those who missed out on Ninja Senki the first time around, they will be coming into an amazing throwback platforming game, but the DX version stacks some satisfying extras on top.
A “normal mode” saves player progress, while the “hardcore mode” is more similar to the original – the game must be completed in a single sitting and continuing costs player precious points. Challenge mode allows players to revisit specific stages to tackle the challenges of not getting hit, killing all enemies, collecting all coins and clearing the stage in a par time.
This is all offered before players dive into the game and unlock new modes that offer a couple of twists and new ways to experience the game. The game time recorded on my first playthrough was just shy of 1 hour and 15 minutes, but I found it fun enough to play even the standard mode a handful of times. The extras just add on to the replayability of the title.
I found the challenge in Ninja Senki to be satisfying, as it demands a fair amount of precision from players without ever being unfair. Getting the hang of all the levels cuts the run time of the original mode by about half, but the necessary precision could make the title a popular speedrunning game.
On top of all the quality offerings in Ninja Senki DX, the game is slated to hit at the low price tag of $4.99, which is a steal considering I would have to nitpick to weed out any negatives. I reviewed this title on the PC/Steam platform, but the Sony version is advertised as a crossbuy, and platforming games don’t get much portable-perfect than Ninja Senki DX. I’ve found it satisfying as both a title to sit down with for half an hour and I’ve also sat down and played it for hours at a time.
In all, retro-inspired packages don’t come much better than Ninja Senki DX. It has a low price tag and nails the presentation and game play of the platforming era it is looking to emulate. Those who put the time into it will find even more to do with extras offered in the DX package. Ninja Senki DX is a quality indie title that has brought forth some of the best platforming and action seen so far in 2016.