Kinuhime was killed
by a ninja demon
is obsessed with revenge and sends out to defeat the demon. But can revenge bring her back? Most players never find out.
That is the whole plot of Ninja Senki
, an eight-bit freeware platformer game made by the Jonathan Lavigne of the Pixel Tao website, who went on to establish Tribute Games
. The game can be downloaded here
. It has 16 stages and is absolutely Nintendo Hard
. The player character has five health orbs, which only regenerate once you collect 1000 points
: if your health remained undamaged, you receive an additional live
instead. Falling into various pits
instantly substracts one from your three lives
. When all lives run out, you can either quit the game outright or continue from the start of the current stage at the cost of 100 points, subtracted from ones you had at the start of the level. Got that? Then go: Katakiuchi Begins
Provides examples of:
- A.I. Roulette: Ryu, the Japanese dragon boss at the end of Scene 8 decides at random between six attack approaches (three platforms, each can be attacked from the left or right).
- Airborne Mook: Every scene has one. There are Yurei ghosts at Scenes 1 & 2, Hitodamas (i.e. Purple Flames) at Scenes 3 and 4, the nearly omnipresent demon head Hannya, etc. The one exception are the Scenes 13 and 14, which have no enemies besides other ninjas and so lack airborne enemies.
- All There in the Manual: Enemy names. While some are relatively easy to guess (i.e. the gunner enemy is named Ashigaru), others are not so obvious (Murasaki for purple ninja or Yadokai for wizard that fires self-guiding orbs.)
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Present and accounted for. It’s all the part of the retro charm, even though the game was released in 2011.
- Artificial Brilliance: Aobozu, the Spread Shot-firing, Force Field-protected wizards that appear in some scenes will not shoot (thus negating their force field) if you’re standing in their dead zone, forcing you to risk getting shot in order to try to hurt them
- Attack Its Weak Point: Ryu, dragon fought at the end of Scene 8 can only be shot in the head. If you try to shoot at the neck, the shurikens will simply be reflected back at you, forcing you to expose yourself to its fireballs.
- Background Boss: Ryu in the Scene 8, which only occasionally pops out.
- Benevolent Architecture: Surprisingly, Scene 11 does feature something beneficial to you: the green floating platforms which only move forward if you are standing on them, and will stop in mid-air if you jump up, letting you kill floating ghosts with relative impunity. Pink platforms do the same, but backwards.
- On that same level, there are also three stone platforms arranged into a smiley face. Not really benevolent gameplay-wise, but still…
- Also, a friendly ghost will spawn near the money-filled spike-lined tunnel and automatically catapult you through with no harm.
- Bullfight Boss: Oni, the 3-5 m tall red demon thing, which appears before the true bosses of Scenes 4, 8, 12 and 16. Its only attack is to jump about 3 meters towards you, dealing touch damage if it hits. In the first encounter, it’s possible to simply let it fall off, but it has to be shot in all the others.
- Catch and Return: The Ronin enemies at Scenes 15 and 16 will do this to your shurikens if you try to shoot them in the face, and can hit you right back with them. You need to wait for them to turn their back to you before shooting.
- Checkpoint Starvation: There is always only one checkpoint halfway through the level and another checkpoint right before the boss. Given how many hazards you’ll face, it’s not really enough.
- Collision Damage: Virtually every enemy deals it in this game.
- Convection Shmonvection: It’s entirely possible, no, required, to stand right next to flames hot enough to inflict damage on you during Scenes 3, 4 and 12. It might be justified on the first two where it was magical purple flame, but in Scene 12 it’s a jet of regular fire.
- Crippling Overspecialisation: Most advanced ninjas in the game seem to be at the same level of power as Hayate but chosen inferior stats to train in.
- To an extent, this applies to the Hayate himself. The player never realises this during the game, but he's the only ninja unable to do any melee damage and forced to rely on his shurikens. It also seems that he has gone for rapid fire over accuracy: Midori (green ninjas) have lesser health and rate of fire, yet they're able to fire shurikens diagonally upwards or downwards, something you cannot ever do.
- Cut and Paste Environments: The game is fond of repeating several hazards in a row with minimal changes. In Scene 3, you will have faced the ledge with Midori and two Hitadamas above twice in a row. In Scene 10, the exact same room with a single Saru (monkey that craps energy) is repeated 4 times, etc.
- Damage-Sponge Boss: Bosses can feel like this when faced for the first time, but in reality they only take between 30 to 50 shurikens, and will go down quite quickly once you get used to their attacks.
- Death Course: You'll face one at every level.
- Depth Perplexion: The Monban temples, Aobozu wizards, "regular" Yadokai wizards and Saru monkeys all fire projectiles that pass through any obstacles in the way, while the shurikens get stuck. Many scenes also feature Hannya demon heads, which easily pass through obstacles themselves, and their blue version, Aohannya, which fires energy projectiles as well.
- Surprisingly subverted in that Yurei ghosts of Scenes 1,2,11 & 12 cannot pass through obstacles when you would expect them to, while the more corporeal Hannya can.
- Dual Boss: Two Oni demons instead of one are encountered just before the Final Boss. Thanks to the level's architecture, however, dispatching them is no trouble, as they cannot reach you if you don't move from the starting position.
- Easy-Mode Mockery: The game comes with an FAQ in a txt. file and it includes the “The game is too hard!” complaint. The response is “Remember that you’re playing as a ninja!”
- Elite Mooks: The Black Kage ninjas and Purple Murasake ninjas are arguably this to Mushi Red ninjas, due able to jump up to avoid shurikens and to Goomba Stomp, with the latter also having twice the amount of health. Scenes 11 and 12 also feature blue versions of Hannya demon heads, who take three shurikens to kill instead of two and can shoot energy projectiles themselves.
- Follow the Money: Coins give you 10 points each, are crucial for many jumping puzzles, as they allow you to jump off them while picking them up, and they are also used to show the correct way to jump past the obstacles.
- At one point in Scene 11, money actually forms a huge arrow for you in mid-air, to show that you can go through the darker-coloured wall sections.
- Flash of Pain: Practically invisible: the sound shuriken makes when impacting is a far more reliable indicator.
- Floating Platforms: Did anyone doubt they would be in there?
- Flunky Boss: The bosses at the end of Scenes 6, 10 and 14 are Monban ninja temples that are no different from the first one at Scene 2 power-wise, but are supported by the Kage Ninjas constantly dropping in from above.
- Giant Mook: Thought it was weird that red Mushi ninjas continue to turn up in nearly every level in spite of being so weak? Well, say hello to the giant version at least three times larger! In spite of now taking four hits to die (and looking very creepy to boot), these MegaMushi are still not much of a challenge due to their slow speed, however.
- Unfortunately, same cannot be said of the MegaHannya, giant version of Hannya flying heads. These are so large, it's very hard to avoid getting touched by one before you finally shoot them.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: The shurikens shot by Hayate are light blue, while ones thrown by enemy ninjas are metallic grey.
- The Goomba: Mushi, the omnipresent red ninjas, which go down in one hit and lack any special characteristics. Kaeru toads in Scenes 3,4 and 10 also count once you get used to their jumping.
- Goomba Stomp: Unlike most other platformers, you can't do that. However, it can be done to you by Scene 4 boss Tanuki, Oni miniboss as well as Kage and Murasake ninjas.
- Green Hill Zone: Scenes 9 and 10 take place in the tree tops of a giant forest. Notable in that the platforms there are not natural but were formed by the ninjas you fight with the circular saws, with the bark stripped cleanly from the trunks of some trees.
- Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The Scene 10 is about as hard as any other section in the game. Its boss is the same temple with the black ninjas as one in the Section 6, but with more breathing room and none of the novelty. The situation is largely repeated during Scene 14
- Similarly, Scene 12 is absolutely insane and pure Platform Hell. Its boss, Hahannya, is one of the easiest in the game, with one ranged attack that is slow and easily dodged and a melee attack that cannot reach you in the corners of the room.
- Heavily Armored Mook: A variation with Kappa, the humanoid turtles (ninja turtles?) in the Scene 4. Their health is nothing unusual (3 shurikens), but they’ll turtle up inside the shell after each hit, and shurikens will simply bounce off it until they get out of it.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Subverted. While Hayate probably carries a bit more shurikens than he realistically should be able to, it is not actually infinite and players can run out under certain circumstances.
- Invincible Minor Minion: The circular saws in Scenes 9 and 10. All they can do is move from side to side indefinitely and inflict collision damage, but they will deflect all shurikens you throw.
- Invisible Block: Surprisingly absent in this game. Even though it’s hard, it still attempts to play fair, unlike I Wanna Be the Guy or Syobon Action.
- King Mook: Hahannya, he boss of the Scene 12. It is a giant, dark green version of the Hannya demon head enemies you fought earlier, with considerable health and ability to fire a four-way Spread Shot. He is still one of the easiest bosses in the game, however, as his attacks are slow and easily dodged.
- Kung-Fu Proof Mook: The advanced Aobozu wizards are coated in a white field that deflects all shurikens. The field only disappears when they fire their triple shot, forcing you to time your attacks to it.
- There are also Ronin kung-fu masters (oh, the irony) who will deflect all your shurikens right back at you unless you shoot them in the back.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The HUD at the top of the screen is placed in the background and doesn’t obscure objects, so it’s possible to jump into it. The beginning of Scene 12 requires you to do so.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Both the player and the vast majority of the enemies explode into bloody chunks when killed. The only aversion are temples and statues (they collapse into piles of stone instead) and floating Hitadama flames (these simply vanish with a puff.) One wonders how the Yurei ghosts and the Hitodama bamboo shoots are able to bleed so much.
- Malevolent Architecture: Pops up in every level. From gaps and ledges requiring pixel-perfect jumps to get through to blocks disappearing from underneath your feet (and this is just the first level).
- Meaningful Name: Just about every opponent name in the game is related either to the Japanese culture or history. Links on this page give a good overview.
- Mercy Invincibility: Surprisingly present in the game. However, this often more than offset by the Knockback you receive upon getting hit.
- Multiple Endings: Two of them, depending on how many points you scored. In good ending, Kinuhime will be resurrected, while in the bad ending Hayate will only find her gravestone and swear to keep on fighting in her name.
- Platform Hell: Opinions vary on whether it's this or merely Nintendo Hard.
- Palette Swap: All enemy ninjas use the same sprite as the player character, with only the colour being different.
- Platform Battle: The battle against the Ryu dragon at the end of Scene 8. Also, the enemies are not at all shy about attacking you while you're moving between platforms.
- Red Shirt: Mushi, the red ninjas at the beginning die from a single shuriken shot. The only thing they can do during their brief lifespans is run back forth ad infinitum. They only have a chance when the designers place them as to interfere with your jumping and send you tumbling backwards.
- Spam Attack: If you have full or nearly-full health, it's often much easier to defeat the temple bosses by spamming as many shurikens as possible and ignoring the Black Kage ninjas.
- It's even more important when fighting the dragon during Scene 8. You're meant to wait for him to come up before the central platform, shoot a couple shurikens at his face, jump over his head while he's shooting triple fireballs onto the side platform behind him than jump back up once he gets down and wait for him to re-emerge - all done with a tiny window of opportunity. However, if you just spam shurikens while standing at the very edge of the platform right next to him, you won't be blown off it by the fireballs and can continue spamming once knockback wears off.
- Sequential Boss: Shiru, the Final Boss of the game, has two stages: one where he runs and jumps around while throwing shurikens and another where he teleports, sends several shots down the floor then repeats the process.
- Spikes Of Doom: Many scenes feature them on the floors and ceilings. Hitting them is always an insta-kill, which is especially helpful when in Scene 6 the spikes are put horizontally on the edges of platforms you have to jump on.
- Spin to Deflect Stuff: The circular saws faced at Scenes 9 and 10 will deflect all shurikens you throw because of their spinning.
- Spread Shot: Aobozu wizards at some scenes fire a triple spread shot horizontally, while Tengu, the winged red demons at Scenes 7 & 8 fire three lightnings downwards when they pop up. Finally, the boss of the Scene 12 fires a slow-moving quadruple shot at you.
- Super Drowning Skills: In a true ninja fashion, Hayate can make some jumps off water surface at very regular intervals, but is unable to swim, and will drown once he hits any water deeper than his height.
- Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Scene 5 has one easily accessible section full of coins right at the start, and plenty of coins strewn around the level in general. Of course, the next level is downright sadistic.
- Teleport Spam: Shiru loves this trope in his second stage.
- Temple of Doom: Scenes 11 and 12 appear to be set in a surprisingly cheerful version of this. There is funky music playing and the décor is purple and azure blue. It might have been a rather nice place if it wasn’t for the manacles on the walls, spikes and all the Yurei and Hannya around.
- Temporary Platform: A few appear in Scenes 1 & 2, and yes, you're forced to double-jump between them. At least they have the courtesy to reappear after a few seconds.
- Timed Mission: Surprisingly subverted: each section has a timer, but it is only there to provide bonus points should you finish it faster than normal. You wouldn’t fail the Section if it runs out, and your points wouldn’t be decreased either.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Even though it avoids having things like Invisible Blocks, the elements of it are still present. Some of the more elaborate ranged enemies, for instance, have the boundary between safe zone and kill zone measured in single pixels. That’s right, if you turn the wrong way, you get shot.
- Underground Level: Scenes 5 and 6.
- Unusual Weapon Mounting: The Saru monkeys in Scenes 9 and 10 will shoot energy projectiles at you from their behinds. They're quite a threat too, due to the projectiles' sheer speed and elaborate arcs.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: When first encountering Hitodame in Scene 3, players might assume it to be invulnerable, when 3 shurikens will still dispatch it.
- Your Head Asplode: When you finally kill the dragon boss, its head explodes into gibs followed by its neck, segment by segment.