If you've ever played Murder On The Waterfront (or even read my review of the game, bless you!) then you'll have a fair idea of what to expect from Ninja. If that be the case, please skip down to the paragraph entitled - THOSE F**KING ROCKS!
Ninja is another in the series of Talkies™ games. Games that "answer you back", according to the advertising slogan. These were text-adventure games with a few dollops of sampled speech thrown in to spice things up. Unfortunately... someone forgot to mention to the programmers that the spice we were after was more along the lines of cinnamon or vanilla. Not paprika or chili n' chives. The speech works against its purpose to punctuate and illustrate the adventure further. Instead, it becomes quickly tedious and wrist-slightingly repetitive!
But let's move on... forget the speech. What's the game like? Well, if you've ever played any of Infocom's wonderfully addictive text adventures... then you'll know exactly what NOT to expect from Ninja. If Leather Goddesses of Phobos was a bowl of cookies and cream, then Ninja would be a bowl of fly-blown dog-carcass bits (with The Neverending Story being a bowl of urine and spinach). The parser system on Ninja is without a doubt one of the worst I've ever come across. I'd even go so far as to say - *BLASPHEMY ALERT!* - I'd prefer the point and click interface that Sierra introduced in the early nineties. The commands are excruciatingly painful in their limitations. The game map is could be pencilled on your keyboards CTRL key and the scene descriptions are a joke. In one scene, we get a picture of a bridge over a river. And if it wasn't for the text, we wouldn't know that "a samurai is here". You can't TALK to him or ASK him anything. But you can ATTACK him, which results in your death. The only other option is to go back the way you came, returning you to the starting point. And then... and then, good people... we have --
THOSE F**KING ROCKS!
I've played many text adventures in my days. I love them, I really do. Today it's a lost art to create such rich worlds and colourful characters that shine through pages of on-screen text. But if there was just one argument for eradicating text adventures for ever... it would be the "two large mossy rocks nearby." I remember being stuck on this screen for hours on end as a child. I think that's what cause my nervous twitch. Now... roughly fifteen years later, I found the game for my emulator, thought I'd give it another bash. Whadya know... my twitch returned! Bastard rocks! Seriously, friends... there is no way around, over, past, under or through these ASCII rocks.
It is this lack of user-friendliness and restrictive gameplay that is stamped all over this game that really makes grown men cry. The plotline, for those interested, is... dunno. Don't remember, don't care. The game is pathetic in it's single (sometimes double if you're lucky!) sentence descriptions. And the speech... "okay" and "so sorry" are two in-game mantras that will have you institutionalised in very little time.
Take my advice folks, please don't even contemplate touching Ninja. This review is here as a public service to all lovers of text adventures... and games in general. Stay well clear! And play the good games. If you are unlucky enough to come across this game, however... follow these simple instructions:
1. Burn the tape or delete the file
2. Make yourself a cup of tea and some toast
3. Sit back down and play Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy
Lots of luck and best wishes - Father Brad!
|GRAPHICS - 1/10|
|The one is purely there to recognize that yes... in some way... this game does have graphics. But ASCII graphics, nonetheless. A truly horrid affair. The C64 is so not worthy of such lousy designing.|
|SOUND - 1/10|
|There is no music. Just speech. And very few samples of speech at that. At first, it may thrill you... "oh my God, my Commodore is talking!". But the words will soon become very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very repetitive. You'll be saying "Sorry pal" and "okay" in your sleep.|
|PLAYABILITY - 1/10|
|Thanks to one of the most truly awful parser systems of the 20th Century, this game plays like a looped BASIC program. You can only go so far, only do so many things and only put an axe through your TV screen once! Or twice... if it's a plastic axe.|
|OVERALL - 1/10|
|Confession Time 2: If you're reading this far, you'll notice that all these comments have been ripped from my Murder review. Well, that's because both games are almost identical. So, izat cool? Again... if you absolutely HAVE to check this game out... please do it when you're: a) drunk, b) stoned, c) drunk and stoned.|