Ninja Saviours for the PS4 is a remake of a classic 1994 SNES title Ninja Warriors and while it is completely faithful to the original there is such a thing as too faithful. Ninja Saviours is a side scrolling beat em up in a similar vein to Street of Rage and besides the pedigree of the genre you don’t see games like this much anymore.
I’m going to make it pretty clear before I go further into this review that I’m not the target audience for this type of game, I wasn’t around in the days of the arcade and the side scrolling beat em up was already phased out by the time I was playing games so instead of looking at this game and reviewing it in the eyes of someone who this would be targeted towards I’m going to give you a more modern insight into the game.
The art style is your standard sprite animation similar to Street Fighter 2, its colourful and it’s always nice to look at and despite the fact that we as a community collectively associate this style with retro it’s hard to deny that this style is timeless, no matter when you play these games they will always look pleasing to the eye. Despite its retro style the movement and animations of the characters in this is really smooth, there’s no janky movements that make it look like a stop motion Lego video on YouTube.
Another feather to this game’s cap is the variation between the characters, the levels and the enemies with each character having their own move sets and their own limitations, for example the larger character ‘Ninja’ can’t jump but he is the only character that can move while carrying heavy objects so it forces you to switch up your play style with each one making the game have an element of replayability to it which is good because there are only 8 levels in total.
The issue with a faithful remake of an old title however is it also brings back the old problems with it, Ninja Saviours is styled as an old arcade game which were designed to be both enjoyable but with enough unfairness to ensure that you keep pumping money into those machines and Ninja Saviours also has this unfairness which causes plenty of deaths forcing you back to checkpoints which is beyond frustrating. I enjoy challenging games and I really enjoy the sense of satisfaction you get when you finish one but Ninja Saviours isn’t challenging, it’s hard and there is a difference.
Most of the challenge comes from the fact that this game doesn’t teach you anything, you get the basics really quickly with square being attack and X is to jump but this game does have a semi complex combat system with holding up and pressing square triggering a power attack that’s unique to each character and most annoyingly holding the attack button is your block which is beyond stupid for me as this game uses a total of 3 buttons for gameplay which means that the other 5 buttons, most namely the triangle button, don’t seem to do anything. Having such an important function not only failed to be taught to you but being mapped to the same button as your attack when the majority of the controller isn’t being utilised is not only counter intuitive but it’s also poor design. If I were to remap the controls it would have been square for attack, X to jump, circle for block and triangle for special which would have made getting to grips with this game easier from the start as failing because you are not told how to do something isn’t making something challenging, it’s making it unfair.
I also wouldn’t go into Ninja Saviours looking for a story as there isn’t one, the game starts with you being attacked by a bunch of guys and you make your way through the levels until you reach the boss, it doesn’t go any deeper than that.
The remake does include some new features that will give more modern audiences a chance to enjoy it more with the inclusion of local co-op which is something that this generation has been missing out on massively and an online leader board for the more competitive people out there because no matter what game it is there will always be someone out there who has dedicated themselves to being the best at it.
One thing a beat em up game must always get right is the sound track which Ninja Saviours completely nails it, the last thing you want when you’re going to be playing the same levels again and again is a sound track that will irritate you to your core so thankfully I was spared that kind of pain.
Additionally there’s 2 unlockable characters that expand the player roster in the form of Yaksha and Raiden with their own move sets and abilities, I recommend giving Raiden a go because his ability to transform in a flying mode called Blaster is astoundingly fun.
Ninja Saviours return of the Warriors was released in Europe on August 30th with the US release coming later on October 15th that gave our friends across the pond a chance to experience some retro combat.