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A love letter to platformers of old.
Overall, Ninja Senki is an excellent platformer game. It perfectly captures the feel of the older games graphically, with authentic sprites and beautiful and diverse backgrounds, with things like pagodas or mountain peaks drawn extremely well. The soundtrack is just as good, if not better: each levelís theme fits perfectly and are very memorable. The enemy AI can be surprisingly advanced; while theyíre restricted to one attack plus supporting quirks, they all fulfil a specific role and advanced ranged enemies are able to shoot at a wide array of angles and some will not attack at all if youíre in their dead zone. It helps that they are placed around the levels with supreme amount of thought: there is never a situation where itís impossible to avoid getting hit, yet if an encounter was designed to be hard, rest assured: it will be. The storyline is no more complicated than in Mario, but thankfully the game doesnít have Your Princess Is in Another Castle messages, and it even has two endings depending on the score attained.

Of course, there are downsides: chiefly, the game is unapologetically Nintendo Hard. Itís mostly fair difficulty, sure, without cheap Screw Yous like Invisible Block (although like in Mario, there are times when enemies will be spawned just as youíre about to make a jump, for instance.) There is also no obligatory time limit, youíre not an One Hitpoint Wonder and the health restoration system is directly tied to how well you play: 1000 points awards you with health restoration or an extra life if the health stays full. If lives run out, youíll be able to restart the current level at the cost of -100 hit to the points total. However, its levels are still very difficult, especially since the game needs to be finished in one sitting: if youíre not that nostalgic for retro games, there is a cheatcode to allow level selection. Some of the boss fights are also a letdown: the temple boss is repeated too often without enough changes, for instance. Some small level sections also tend to be repeated 3-4 times in a row with no changes, but are not repeated anymore after that.

Overall, though, the game is absolutely worth playing, especially since it is freeware and can be easily downloaded for as long as you have a Windows PC. If you can't finish it in one sitting, use the level select cheat in the menu: 3 left, 3 right, down, up, down, up.

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