Friday, 3 June 2011

A Drop in the Ocean: Shadow Warriors (Spectrum)

How awesome is that box art? And it's even been faithfully recreated as the screenie below shows.
Ninja Gaiden was a great game. Ninjas, fights, weapons, ninjas, somersaults, ninjas, big ass bosses, awesome graphics, ninjas, great music, and ninjas. Oh, did I mention it had ninjas in it? Tecmo decided to port it's coin op to our side of the pond under the guise of Shadow Warriors, and was still as good and full of ninjas as it's japanese cousin. And, obviously, Ocean decided it was too, and ported it to the home micro's at the time. One version in particular, was a great version. One version kept the huge sprites, fast gameplay, and tough bosses. The humble Speccy version was a mission impossible. But it was done, and boy was it good.
Still just as cool, even given the Speccy's limited palette.
You start off on the streets of, lets say for the sake of argument, Los Angeles (cant remember the name), and it's your mission to go around and beat the crap out of any bad guys who foolishly get in your way. The plot goes, that your ninja brethren have been brainwashed by some big bad evil dude, and with you the only one who's unaffected, must go and make things right, all the while fighting your brothers, and people who dress up in hockey masks and red t-shirts. The levels range from streets, to crossing packed highways (a right bastard of a level), and going through a theme park/casino. You get three hit points, three lives and from what I can remember, two continues. And, believe me, you'll need every single one of them, as the game is tough from the get go.
Between a rock, a hard place, and two ugly dudes!
You get ambushed as soon as you start, but along with your ninjitsu moves, you can grab poles above you, and kick people by swinging on them, smash oil drums and telephone booths for power ups and use various weapons that are littered about. The game is a challenge, but it's a worthy challenge. As I mentioned before, the graphics are big and chunky, but are awesome all the same and are loaded with colour, and are really detailed. There is only a quick ditty before you start the level and on the main menu, but when you land a punch or kick, you do get a satisfying crunch sound effect, and you even hear it when you get run over by the cars on the second level.
The graphics still look awesome even to this day.
All in all, this was another solid arcade conversion. Tough, great looking, and really enjoyable. Even the box art was awesome. It's just a shame we don't get box art like this anymore.

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