Master Ninja: Shadow Warriors of Death

Action 1986 Dos Dosbox Paragon Software Oriental Beat em up

Poor old-school fighter

This little known beat 'em up uses Eastern martial arts as its background, a theme familiar from 1980s fighters like International Karate and Budokan but unfortunately for Master Ninja, there is little here to recommend it to anyone other than the most dedicated fighting fan. Some lengthy flavour text sets the scene and explains that the player must do battle with the forces of evil that are now threatening the land. This translates into gameplay terms as side scrolling, one-on-one beat 'em up which requires the player to master several weapons as well as unarmed combat in order to succeed. These weapons include the likes of katana swords, throwing stars and blinding powder and which add some sort of variety to the action. The game plays out against a variety of backdrops, like mountains and inside houses, but there is no real variation to things, with players simply needing to knock down their opponents in order to proceed. There are a few moves available, the usual variations on punches, kicks and jumps but they are pretty basic really and don't really require much in the way of strategy or skill to use. The occasional appearance of traps enlivens things a bit, but don't hide the fact that Master Ninja doesn't have a lot going for it. The graphics are quite nice for the time, with large sprites that move around fairly speedily and which are reasonably animated, while the backdrops do at least break up the monotony. The fighting is fun for about five minutes but soon becomes repetitive, with controls that are less than responsive and a lack of complexity that sucks out whatever appeal the game might have had. Really, this is one for dedicated retro heads or fighting fans, but everyone else can avoid Master Ninja.

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