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Revenge of the Ninja – Sega CD

Revenge of the Ninja – Sega CD

Revenge of the Ninja Cover artPlatform: Sega CD

Developer: Telenet (Wolfteam)

Publisher: Renovation ProductsProject Obscure

Release Date (NA): April, 1994

Genre: Action, FMV, Interactive Movie

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Have you ever thought about what life would be like if only you took the time to earn a Master of Ninja Arts Degree? Yea… me too… *sigh… We all have our regrets. This is a master’s degree you can be proud of. Renovation Products doesn’t care about anything but your success, and their quirky Sega CD game proves it as you can earn your Master of Ninja Arts Degree just by completing Revenge of the Ninja in hard mode. Wowzers! I’ve been wasting my life away reading Zen in the Martial Arts and watching Karate Kid (the Ralph Macchio version) when I should have been honing my craft as a Ninja warrior. Guess what folks… It’s not too late! A wise sage once told me, “It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to do something, it only matters that you get it done.” Or something like that. He probably used more prophetic words than me, but you get the point. Are you ready to become a Master of the Ninja Arts? Let me take you there.

Revenge of the Ninja 3

Laserdisc Arcade

Revenge of the Ninja, or known as Ninja Hayate if you ever played the game before 1994, is a re-release of the Laserdisc arcade video game from 1984. This game has a similar look and style as other games from that era including the ever-popular Dragon’s Lair. Revenge of the Ninja‘s entire shtick is fully animated movie-esque sequences that require quick reactions and plenty of patience. Okay, the game wasn’t designed to require patience, but in reality it does. There are over 18 levels and each one is randomly generated so each playthrough is a little different than before. For video gaming in 1984, this was a big deal. Donkey Kong was exactly the same start to finish, so patterns could easily be memorized. This style and look of video games remained dormant for a few years (not technically, but in popularity) before resurfacing in the early 1990s with titles like Galaxian 3, Crime Patrol, and Dragon’s Lair II. With the Sega CD, CD-i, 3DO, PC, and Jaguar CD fully capable of rendering power similar to the 1980s Laserdisc arcade cabinets, why not port the classics? Enter Revenge of the Ninja.

Revenge of the Ninja 1

Story

When playing a game such as Revenge of the Ninja, the story is actually one of the most important aspects. After all, this is an interactive movie. You can get away with loose or forgettable plot lines in simpler games like Mario and Sonic. But when you’re playing a game like this, the story is the game’s entire purpose, and Revenge of the Ninja lives up to the expectation. Gracing the inner pages of the manual is our main character’s (Hayate) quest for justice. Spread across 3 tall pages (y’all remember how stupid big these Sega CD cases are, right?), the story is rich and full of character development as we learn to love Hayate and admire his passions. To read the entire story from the manual, see the *Manual Story footnote at the end of this article, but for now, here is a simpler summary:

Hayate is a 16 year old boy studying Desmo in the town of Kamala when he discovers that his father has been mortally wounded trying to save the kidnapped Princess Terri from the Castle of Evil. Lougi, the ruler of the Castle of Evil, is stronger now than ever using magic to vanquish his foes. Hayate returns home and sees his father inches from death. Hayate’s father passes away holding his son’s hand. Hayate becomes very sad and filled with fear yet remembers his father’s style of fearless living as he always said, “…one who believes in the power of the Ninja is one who believes in himself.” Hayate takes up his father’s sword and moves toward the castle to save the princess, protect the townspeople, and… destroy Lougi.

revenge-of-the-ninja-usa featuredI am absolutely in love with the story. My personal bias towards eastern culture, specifically ancient Chinese and Japanese, probably helps. But even if this were set in modern day times in Detroit, there’s still a strong level of universally identifiable sentiments. Many of us know the feeling of moving away from home and our families. Many of us can empathize with Hayate as this pure adult moment is forced upon his heavy teenage heart. Whether you’ve lost a parent or not, we feel for poor Hayate and we despise Lougi. This emotional character development is a strong factor in the power of Revenge of the Ninja‘s motor, aka the Story. We want revenge just as bad as Hayate. So let’s get even!

The Game

revenge of the ninja 6For whatever reason, the entire game is played on a small screen within the television screen. All Sega CD FMV games are like this and I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t know (if you know, tell me). The manual says “The Revenge of the Ninja is shown through the scroll of the Mystic Storyteller. The Mystic Storyteller lets you take part in Hayate’s adventure and acts like a camera, zooming in on the action.” A pretty neat way of telling us why the screen is like that. But it’s kind of annoying. My TV is already small enough and now I’m losing like 20% of my screen to this “scroll.” But oh well, it comes with the territory if you’re going to play an FMV game on your Sega CD.

We watch Hayate as he runs around the castle in traditional Sega CD grainy video footage. The animation is quite excellent yet the presentation is horrendous due to the typical low quality of the Sega CD’s video rendering capabilities. But it is serviceable and you will get used to it very quickly. The animation is in the standard anime style except with a bit less of the extravagance that we see in today’s anime. Since the entire game is a series of pre-recorded footage, the only real control you have is the result of what happens. You don’t actually control the characters. Whenever Hayate is in a moment of peril, you are prompted to press a directional button or an action button. If you do not press these buttons in a timely manner then Hayate will die. If you do press it correctly and on time, then the disc will load the appropriate file (video) and the game will progress. Occasionally you will be confronted with a decision as to which direction you wish to go. I learned the hard way that “any direction” is not an acceptable answer and can almost certainly get you killed if you don’t look close enough. Apparently choosing to evade by jumping out of a castle window was not wise of me. Mr. Miyagi would not have been proud.

Revenge of the Ninja 2

While the concept might sound pretty boring and lame, the actual result is really exciting and fun! Sure, pressing a directional button isn’t as cool as actually controlling the character. But there are some sequences that can get really intense as the game throws a whole variety of button prompts your way and you’re trying to press the right one before you die! And trust me… You will die. Boss battles are no joke. After a short while, I truly felt like I was interacting with a real movie!

revenge of the ninja 5There is one major gripe I have about the button system, however. So whenever the game prompts you to move, it throws a giant yellow arrow on the screen in the direction you need to move. And whenever you need to press an action button, the game will throw a big red button on the screen with a… you guessed it… giant yellow arrow pointing down at the button! WTF! In the heat of battle, the first thing you will notice is this giant (non-grainy) yellow arrow popping up on the screen and you will want to press “down” on the d-pad almost every time! Truly a frustrating moment when it happens… ALL THE TIME. But generally, that’s how simple the controls are.

And you can forget about playing this game on Hard and earning your Master of Ninja Arts Degree from Renovation… That shit ain’t gonna happen. In the HARD mode, the amount of time you have to react is drastically reduced. Furthermore, there are no arrows or buttons to guide you, instead forcing you to anticipate the move when the word “ACTION!” comes across the screen. Ugh. And you thought Easy was tough. I know I did.

Conclusion

Revenge of the Ninja might be a simple and straightforward quick time reaction game slash interactive movie, but it certainly does not lack in intensity, excitement, and fun with a small dose of infuriating moments thrown in from time to time. Simple and straightforward does not mean easy, folks, as your reaction time is instrumental to your success. Hayate can be somewhat comedic at times as he dodges pitfalls and booby traps, which is a welcome addition to an overall serious presentation. While the story is exceptional and constitutes one of my favorite aspects of this game, it does get lost in the fray of action and exploration throughout the castle, almost becoming a nonexistent factor until near the end. This game belongs in the upper echelons of Laserdisc arcade greats with the likes of Dragon’s Lair. Overall, Revenge of the Ninja was a surprisingly refreshing Sega CD title that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you can come into this game with an open mind, then you should enjoy it too. I highly recommend this title for anyone looking for a change in their gaming landscape. Even if it’s just for a day.

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry


 

Manual Story

AAEEE! My face contorted in pain as the heavy stick slammed into my thigh. I took control of my anger as I high-kicked my opponent’s face. As he hit the ground I knew I was victorious. I’ve studied Desmo for almost 16 years. Most of my studies were in Gella, my hometown. I’ve been at this school in Kamala for over a year now – the longest I’ve ever been away from home. As I remember Gella, I reach for my necklace.

Two years ago, Astov, the King of Gella, wore this very necklace. He was kidnapped and then brutally killed by Lougi, the despised ruler of the Castle of Evil. Astov’s daughter Terisita (Terri to me) found his necklace in the woods and gave it to me before I left for Kamala. As she put it around my neck, Terri said, “Hayate, you are like my father, very strong, but kind and gentle. This is why I give you his necklace. May it be a symbol of your duty to your homeland as you seek your fortune and hone your skills.”

When I woke the next day, Kamala was quieter than usual. The morning air felt heavier and a dark cloud loomed over my soul. I knew something was wrong. That afternoon after my daily run, I discovered what it was. A friend gave me a terrible message; My father was wounded in battle at the Castle of Evil.

“Just how badly is my father hurt?” I asked. My friend looked away, he wouldn’t answer.

That evening I packed my bags. I would start my journey first thing in the morning since it was safer traveling during daylight.

The morning sun woke me up. Rubbing my eyes, I wished I had been able to sleep better. Thoughts of my father had haunted my mind. With bags in hand, I walked to the river, gathered some water and started my trip.

After two days travel I reached Gella at night. I was glad of the late hour since it prevented the nosy towns people from discovering my return. As I walked through the door of my home I saw my father sleeping on his bed. He looked pale and exhausted. I decided I would wait to talk with him in the morning.

I went to my old room. Nothing had changed. I climbed into bed knowing this would be the best sleep I had gotten in a long time. I am finally home with my father, I thought, smiling to myself as I fell asleep.

The next morning I walked in my father’s bedroom. “Oh Hayate, my son, I am so happy to see you, but I fear there is not much time left in this life for me,” he said.

“Please father, tell me what happened,” I cried.

“Lougi, the evil wizard, has kidnapped the princess. I stormed the Castle of Evil to save Terri, and I was mortally wounded.”

Anger started to build up inside me “Damn that Lougi!” I shouted.

My father continued to speak about the castle and the Evil within it. “Listen carefully, my son. Lougi has used magic to hurt all who oppose him. Lougi is now very powerful and I grow too old to protect the townspeople and honor our family’s ancient oath. Now I must leave you with this task.”

“Father, I am much too young! My training is still incomplete,” I cried.

My father continued to speak in a whisper about the castle and the growing evil. “I am not just leaving you in charge of the towns people and their safety because you are my son, I am leaving this honor to you because you, unlike most people, have learned to wear no mask only the face of truth. Remember my son, one who believes in the power of the Ninja is one who believes in himself. Hayate, I am leaving this mortal life, but I will still live within your soul. I will be beside you aiding you in your quest. Good-bye, my son,” he said, his voice getting softer and softer.

“No!” I cried. “Father, don’t leave me!” But he was gone.

My father’s hand became cold. A tear fell from my eye and onto my father’s hand. I sat there for what seemed like hours, yet only had minutes passed. Thoughts of Lougi, the castle, and Princess Terri filled my mind. I loved the princess with all my heart, but as I sat there I felt such fear. Could I do it?

With that thought in my mind, another tear fell from my cheek and splashed upon my father’s sword. As I watched with amazement, the sword glowed, its heat melted my tear. I remembered my father’s words about believing in the power of the Ninja. Now I knew what he meant. I vowed I would protect the towns people, save the princess, and destroy Lougi. I picked up my father’s sword and yelled to the heaven’s above, “Father, I believe in the power of the Ninja, I believe in the quest, my family’s honor, and most of all, I believe in you.”

As I said those words, the sword jumped in my hand and began to move in the direction of the castle. I followed with pride as my quest for truth, to save the princess, and most of all, revenge, began.

Lougi... Not Loogie.

Lougi… Not Loogie.

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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2 Comments

  1. Where are the cheat codes!? I NEED MY NINJA ARTS DEGREE!

     

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