Originally announced as The Ninja Warriors: Once Again, The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is an enhanced remaster of the 1994 beat ’em up The Ninja Warriors, which was released on the Super Nintendo. The SNES game is a sequel to the 1987 arcade game of the same name.
While I never played the SNES classic, the remaster is a gem of a ’90s throwback. Surprisingly, the game looks great on modern hardware, despite being 25 years old. The colors pop across the game’s 2D side-scrolling stages; it sounds great to boot.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors has two main modes: single-player and co-op. The entire campaign can be enjoyed in a single sitting. Once you beat stages, you’ll unlock a time attack mode where you can improve your completion time on each stage individually. Once you beat the game, you can also come back and play on the hard difficulty setting.
Once you choose a mode, the game will ask you to select a character. There are five warriors in total, but only three are initially unlocked. The characters vary fairly significantly in the speed of their attacks and abilities. If you choose a new character each time, the playthrough is a different experience.
Each stage has you confront an assortment of enemies, large and small, wielding all kinds of weapons. Some have knives; others have guns, swords, and grenades. There are also robots of varying sizes, including drones that will pester you from the air. The stages are capped off with a boss fight.
As I mentioned, each of the warriors has their own unique abilities. Kunoichi is one of the more agile characters with double knives and a katana on her back. Ninja is something of a brute; he’s slow but packs a punch. His steel nunchuks will tear enemies apart. Kamaitachi is the fastest character in the game, but his attacks are fairly weak compared to Ninja.
Personally, I preferred playing as Ninja. His attacks are powerful and can incapacitate large numbers of enemies. He also has a neat power slide ability that helps him get out of the way of enemy attacks, but it can also be used as an attack in its own right. If you run into someone using the power slide, they’ll take damage.
The combat is simple but fun. You have a standard attack and a charged attack. The charged attack can only be used when your battery meter is partially full. For an ultimate attack, the meter will need to be full. Taking hits depletes the battery meter.
When you’re close to an enemy, you’ll automatically grab them at which point you can then toss them at other enemies. It’s also possible to pick up and throw items like crates, machine gun placements, explosive barrels, and even motorcycles.
There is also a health bar at the bottom of the screen. Once it depletes, it’s game over. There are, however, health packs that you can pick up throughout levels to restore your character’s health. The game also allows for continues, although you’ll have to restart your progress at the nearest checkpoint rather than just pick up where your character died.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors has couch co-op, which is increasingly rare these days. It’s good that they opted for couch co-op instead of an online mode. I would rather play a game like this with a friend than a stranger any day.
One of the reasons why that is the case is that the game has you share both the health bar and the battery meter with your partner. Can you imagine playing this online with some random person who carelessly loses all of your health? That would be way too frustrating.
Anyway, if you have a friend to play with who likes these types of games, you’ll have a blast. If not, the single-player experience is good enough in its own right.
The one area where I can ding The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is its length. It is a really short game. You can easily beat it in under an hour. But like I said, each character provides a different experience. It’s easy to see you going back and playing through the entire game with all five warriors. And for people who like challenging Trophies, this game has them.
For a series that does not have a lot of notoriety, The Ninja Saviors is a surprisingly satisfying blast from the past. The $30 physical edition seems high, considering the length of the game. However, you can get a digital copy for $19.99 at the PlayStation Store and Nintendo eShop.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.