Saturday, March 30, 2024

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy, 1991)


Never covered a Ninja Gaiden game before. The NES trilogy is known for having these interesting, complex plots and cutting-edge cutscenes between levels. Well, don't expect that here. This was made by an entirely different design team and doesn't have much of anything for cutscenes or story. If you're lucky you might get a "Ryu's dad was researching spiders in the amazon right before he died".

Wait, hold on. This is oddly similar to Shadow of the Ninja. I seriously didn't know this beforehand. I'm playing this because I wanted to knock out another retro ninja game.

This guy is the new dictator of America. Once again, America is never gonna have a dictator who looks like this. The dictator of America is gonna be some smooth handsome politician with a skin-care routine. Maybe even a female one! One thing is for sure, it's nobody who looks like this dude who doesn't trim his nails and sports a mullet. But you do you, game.

Alright, so this takes place in 1985, a far cry from Shadow of the Ninja's 2029. But wait, 3 years since what battle? This is before any of the NES trilogy take place. What battle is it talking about?

There's despair in the skyscraper? What does this mean? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN

Okay, hold on, stop the bike! This guy's name is Garuda.

So this is super weird. Ninja Gaiden is from Tecmo. Shadow of the Ninja was from Natsume. But here we have a game that seems to be a Shadow of the Ninja remake using the Ninja Gaiden name and gameplay, from Tecmo. What was going on here?

Forget the two ninjas from SotN though, because our protagonist here is one Ryu Hayabusa! He'll stop Garuda and save...1985 New York.

The game confirms that this is a prequel to Ryu's trilogy on NES. But it's also Shadow of the Ninja? Man, maybe GameFAQs can shed some light on what this game is actually about:'s also Kirby's Dream Land? How many games IS this? Garuda, you damn Twinkle Star thieving bastard!

Time to play this bizarre Ninja Gaiden/Shadow of the Ninja/Kirby's Dream Land fusion.

After all that's a standard Ninja Gaiden game, with the same controls. Nice background though.

There's only one special power in this, the upward fire wheels. You collect emblems to use it and can have up to five of 'em at a time. No shurikens or anything else, so it's basically an extremely scaled-down NG game.

First boss is this gangly robot thing that can run on the ceiling. It's basically an EMMI.

There's a grappling hook that lets you grab onto surfaces from below, but it's kind of a situational ability that you don't need very often.

Most of the bad guys are armored trooper types that fire guns. The setting seems very similar to Shadow of the Ninja, despite the gameplay being Ninja Gaiden.

One noteworthy fight is this giant dude who has a tiny dude as an accomplice. It's basically Arnold and Danny Devito.

Defeat a boss, and you get this rad post-fight "cutscene" with Ryu apparently shredding the boss in one swing. about all you get for cutscenes between levels.

Ryu rides a crane to the top of the level and we get some silhouettes. This game may be fairly mediocre so far, but it has some nice background artwork.

The first real difficult spot of the game is this collapsing-ceiling hallway. It gives you JUST enough time to run through if you start running instantly and never pause at all. Even a half second of hesitation and it'll eventually get you.

Well, now that that nightmare is over...

Stage 3 boss is this gun-toting generalissimo guy. For some reason he's got a map highlighting NYC, DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Now I understand the bad guys targeting NYC and DC as the centers of finance and politics, and even LA to an extent as the hub of the entertainment industry. But why target San Francisco? Haven't they been through enough already? The bad guys show up to steal everyone's cars and discover that all the cars have already been stolen.

Oh shit! This guy isn't playing around!

The game over screen gives us another nice shot of Garuda, the inexplicable lord of America. We know he's bad because he's unattractive! No, I'm not gonna get off of this.

In any case, unlimited continues, and you start back at the stage you were on. The stages aren't very long so this is fine.

I finally figure out that you can grapple-hook onto the ceiling and use that to stay above the boss, dropping down to slash while he's shooting in the other direction. Still a tough fight, and surprising that Stage 3 of a so-far-easy five-stage game would have a tough boss like this. The lack of boss life meters, much like Shadow of the Ninja, became an issue here.

After an easy first 3 stages (outside of that last fight), stage 4 and 5 basically decide it's time to murder you. It's still a super short game, with nothing else after stage 5.

Stage 4 starts the nightmare by turning off the lights randomly while death-lasers sweep down from hovering drones.

These crystal pods (or whatever they are) usually give you a spell charge, but sometimes you get a health up. It's also rare to see a loot pile like this.

That happiness doesn't last long, as the next part has a wall of lava chasing you up a hallway. The jumping and grabbing controls aren't quick enough for this.

Also this part right here can die! Huge peeve of mine is when autoscrolling or insta-death sections like this make you double back to go forward.

Next boss is this poofy pants guy, who can fire lots of shurikens. Ryu sure can't, so I guess this is where the shurikens went.

Stage 5. This is it. Ryu must contend with flamethrower-bots and... leaping monkey bots.

The most annoying foes, however, are these shield-bearing bots. They'll block all attacks and just leave their block up while you stand there. The way to get past them is to look the other way so they'll drop their guard.

This leads to a very long elevator section where wall-turrets snipe you with lasers, then...

...the final boss, who I assume is Garuda, is this cloaked flying menace who resembles Hiko from Kenshin.

He attacks with lightning bolts, and this fight has no resemblance to Shadow of the Ninja's final boss. Turns out this fight has an extremely simple pattern, where he'll fire a bolt, then swoop down where you can land multiple hits.

He's the only boss in the game with a second form, and the second form is a lot worse.

He fires these triple-fireballs that hang in the air temporarily before flying across the screen one at a time. It's real tough to avoid these, so the best course here is to save up your five fire wheel casts and just spam them on this guy for a quick win.

Ryu walks away from the bad guy castle in slow-mo and that's it for this game. Well...that game certainly happened. Much like Ducktales on the GB, this is basically an inferior version of something you can play much better versions of elsewhere. Still not sure why this seems to be a Shadow of the Ninja mashup. During the whole intro of this game, I thought I was being pranked.

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