It's not all sweetness and light in the Mushroom Kingdom, oh no. There are dark things there, just waiting for their chance to take down Mario and assist in the glorious counter-Princess Peach revolution.


Oh how adorable, a bouncing little gymnast thing. Still, those teeth look a sharp. They could probably give you a nasty bite, but I'm sure Ninji won't be doing that, will he? Look at him, he's adorable!
Well, he'd be a lot more adorable if he wasn't the Mushroom Kingdom's version of a ninja. That's right, the Mushroom Kingdom contains a race of remorseless hired assassins. Mario should consider himself lucky to have made it through Super Mario Bros. 2 without a poison-tipped dagger being embedded between his shoulderblades. This is almost certainly why all Bower's fortresses are of an all-stone construction - it stops the Ninjis from carrying out the standard ninja technique of sneaking into a castle and setting it on fire.


You remember the Rocky Wrench family: they're the little bastards in SMB3 that pop out of manholes on the airship stages and throw wrenches at you. I always thought they were moles, you know. They look like moles, they come from underground, their tinted goggles replicate the mole's famously impaired vision. They're not moles, though. Look at their artwork; they've got a mole-ish face, but a Koopa-like shell. Now, the Super Mario series has a mole enemy in Monty Mole. It also (obviously) has turtle enemies. What you're witnessing in Rocky Wrench is one of Bowser's twisted eugenics projects, a forced union between Koopa Troopa and Monty Mole, an inter-species offspring so hideous they're forced to live in the dark bowels of Bowser's airships. Mario's really doing them a favour by crushing their skulls beneath the heel of his boot.


For the star of a videogame series that's usually the epitome of super-rainbow-happy-fun-times, Mario sure does come into contact with a terrifying spirit-world full of vengeful undead creatures on a regular fucking basis. Normally it's the Boos, everyone's favourite bashful soul that's trapped in limbo, but Super Mario World also features Eeries.
They're dinosaur ghosts that look like a Yoshi. More specifically, they look like baby Yoshis:

Are we to assume that Eeries are the ghosts of dead baby Yoshis, forever condemned to roam the Ghost Houses of the Mushroom Kingdom, never getting to grow up and experience the joy of having a fat plumber ride them around? Yes, yes I think we are supposed to assume that. The darkness at Shigeru Miyamoto's heart is becoming ever clearer. I expect the Nintendo hit-squad to arrive any moment to silence me now that I know the terrible truth.


Appearing in Super Mario 64, Bully stretches use of the term "Character Design" to breaking point by consisting of little more than a black sphere with horns and googly eyes slapped on. "Right boys, that's another enemy designed. Next! How about... a cube with eyes! What do you mean we've already got Thwomps?!"
Bully's not here because of his design though; he's here because he is, quite simply, a dick. His name is appropriate, because all he does is run into you and knock you about, clearly furious at Mario for some undisclosed reason. "Bully" seems like something of an understatement, though: my schooldays were a while ago now, but I'm pretty sure bullying stopped short of trying to body-check someone into a pool of lava. Maybe that kind of thing went on at the tough inner-city comprehensives.


Speaking of cubes with eyes, here's Grindel. He wants to hurt you, Mario. Can't you see the psychosis lurking in his smile? Grindel feels nothing... until he's grinding your bones beneath his weight, when white-hot ecstasy courses through his veins (bandages? teeth?) and he is, for a brief moment, sated.


A Piranha Plant that has gained the ability to move around sounds like something that could be a real threat. Sadly, the Ptooies' evil ambitions are hampered by the spiked ball they have to keep balanced over their mouths at all times. Imagine if medieval knights had to do battle whilst balancing a rolled-up carpet on their head, and now stop imagining it because it's quite funny and undermines the very serious point that I'm trying to make.

What kind of evolutionary imperative would prompt this trait to emerge? Maybe I'm just not seeing the big picture, but I just don't see the benefits of having a steel ball constantly hovering over your head, ready to crush you at any moment should you lose concentration for even a second.
Of course, they probably didn't evolve. We've already seen the results of Bowser's genetic meddling in Rocky Wrench. He'll try anything in his insane quest to manufacture the perfect soldier, even if it means crossing a houseplant with a mace.


The rare and mysterious Stretch is found only in SMB3, waiting in some of Bowser's many fortresses. Taking the form of platforms, they wait for a portly plumber to jump on them and then bam, ghosts pop out and travel around the platform, hoping to collide with our hero.

That... that is horrible. Imagine that, after death, you discover that there really is an afterlife. Your soul remains in the land of the living. You drift aimlessly through the world, hoping that one day somebody can put your spirit to rest, until one fateful day when some turtley-dragony-dinosaury overlord thing offers you a chance to join his army. You see the proud ranks of assembled troops, the Troopas with their shining shells, the mighty Hammer Bros commanding crack strike teams of Para-Goombas and you think yes, I could be something here. You join up, go through basic training, form friendships with the other Boos, until the day you receive your orders: you have been assigned to "Operation: STRETCH".
Years pass, every day the same, trapped on this one platform by Bowser's dark magic. You see the other Boos, the fortunate ones, floating freely through the castle. Grinning. Laughing, the lucky bastards. You lie in the dark and wait. That's all you can do, wait and pray that one day soon The Plumber will arrive and he'll be as powerful as they all say; he can put an end to your suffering and finally free your soul.
He never comes. You wait, trapped, in the dark.

Well, that was cheerful, wasn't it?

Most pictures taken from the Super Mario Wiki.



Get out your party hats and miniature sausage rolls, because this is the 100th entry here at VGJUNK. Truly, a landmark event. Instead of some grand tribute, here's a look at something some people might not consider a videogame at all: Sega's 2000 touch-type-em-up, The Typing of the Dead. Yes, you read that correctly.

You might have heard of Typing of the Dead, possibly referenced in some "top ten weirdest videogames" chart, derided as an example of that particularly Japanese brand of oddness. If you haven't heard of it, it's a typing tutor that thinks it's an arcade lightgun game. That may sound about as good a mix as a jam-coated baby and a swarm of wasps, but trust me on this: it's good.

The game itself is a modified version of Sega's undead-blastin' lightgun classic The House of the Dead 2. Brave agents of the AMS battle against the mysterious Goldman and his hideous army of ghouls, so far so normal, except instead of guns they use words. Quickly and precisely typed words, to be specific.

Typing of the Dead is surprisingly generous in the amount of game modes and options available to you, but your first port of call will probably be the tutorial mode. Here, TotD's real agenda becomes clear: it wants you to learn how to touch-type, and if battling against hordes of vicious demons is the best way to accomplish that then by God that's what you're going to be doing.

The tutorial mode is pretty much what you'd expect, telling you where to put your fingers, what finger you should type a given letter with and so on, all dictated to you by your main character, James the AMS agent. You'll start getting glimpses of TotD's absurd sense of humour, too, like the merits of being a good touch-typist shown in the picture above. Unfortunately, my typing skills make me look like a neanderthal that's been accidentally transported through time and space and into an internet cafe, so I'll never be as cool as James.

The other modes are all about getting out there and blasting zombies with the clickety-clackety power of fingers mashing keyboards. There are the original and arranged modes of House of the Dead 2 to play through, a series of specific "drills" designed to make you better at various aspects of typing, a boss battle mode and even a competitive mode against a second player or, with the right password, against the computer.

The arcade modes are the same as House of the Dead 2, with the same stages, music, enemies and best of all, the same voice acting. This is great, because personally I believe the voice acting on H/TotD has never been bettered in its relentless comedy awfulness. "Suffer like G did" has earned a certain cachet amongst gamers for a reason, and then there's Goldman, magical, mystical Goldman, sitting in his skyscraper and pondering the permutations of the loyfe coycle. Here, watch this and bask in the glory:

In all seriousness, I wonder what actually went on with the voice acting for House of the Dead 2? Was it a simple case of unpracticed or untalented voice actors working for a Japanese company that didn't realise how strange they sounded? Japanese voice actors struggling with English as a second language? Maybe it was intentional, recorded that way to add to the B-movie vibe. However it came to be, I will go on record as saying House of the Dead 2 (and therefore also TotD) has the best voice acting of any videogame, because it adds so much to the overall experience. Final Fantasy XII may have had a proper voice cast who knew what they were doing, and I'll be damned if I can remember one line of dialogue from that game - but I'll never forget James' incredulous "it's like they're inviting me in!" at the start of the final stage.
Of course, there a few differences between TotD and HotD2, apart from the obvious major one. For starters, our heroes have ditched their guns and opted for this snazzy ensemble:

Those are Dreamcasts on their backs (although this is the PC version), powered by oversized batteries on top and with a keyboard hovering at their chests. Well, that's this years Hallowe'en costume sorted, then. It may look absurd and, well, it is. Still, it's no more absurd than a small blue hedgehog who can run around loop-the-loops or an anthropomorphic fox who commands a group of mercenary space pilots, so I'm sure you can suspend your disbelief for now.

Also, some of the enemies have been given a "comedy" overhaul, which mostly consists of swapping things like axes for squeaky hammers. Yep, nothing takes the edge of being attacked by a bloodthirsty nightmare creature than seeing him attack you with an inflatable he won at the funfair.

But how does it play, I hear you cry, and to that I respond with I'm getting to that, geez! Well, you win by typing, natch. Zombies lurch onto the screen with words or phrases hovering near them. You type the words correctly (and quickly enough), the zombie dies and your delicate internals remain unchewed. Projectile attacks like knives are deflected by typing one letter, but everything else takes more and more letters to kill as you progress through the game.

I don't know how it's all supposed to function within the confines of the game word: each successful letter typed is accompanied by a gunshot and visible damage to your foes, so I guess either the keyboard fires bullets or it's attached to sound system that makes "bang!" noises and the zombies just play along. I'm also not sure how the agents know what to type to kill each zombie, but I know what I'm choosing to believe happens: when the zombies appear, they shout out these phrases in their moaning undead voices. Running with this idea vastly improves the game, because then you're imagining zombies jumping out at you and shouting things like "Pickles!" and "Woopitydoo!". However, it does make the game much more difficult, because it's hard to type when you're laughing.

There are occasional changes to the standard typing gameplay: sometimes you'll get a challenge to kill a certain amount of zombies within a time limit, and the bosses generally throw a few extra complications at you. For example, the second stage boss can only be damaged by typing when his armoured chest is opened, while the third stage's boss takes a more relaxed attitude to murder by interspersing his attack with a series of question. Three options come up for each question, and you have to type the correct answer. Sometimes the answer is obvious, sometimes it isn't and occasionally it gives you a gem like this:

Wow. That brings me nicely to the word selection for TotD, which I would happily describe as weird. I'm convinced that Sega took the strangely amusing atmosphere of HotD2, which may or may not have been intentional, and just ran with it in TotD, creating what could be considered a work of absurdist genius in the process. It's hard to dislike a game that has you typing things like "RoboSnot" and "Why can't you use a toilet?" and when you get to the end and The Emperor starts asking you what Valentine's Day means to you you know you've got something special on you hands.
Speaking of The Emperor, even the three different endings went down the comedy route. This is my favourite:

"See you later, shitlords! Goldman awaaaaay!"
Still, just because TotD is madder than a box of doorknobs doesn't mean you should underestimate it. It's hard, a real challenge if like me you have trouble typing even when you're not being attacked by the undead, and on the harder difficulties I imagine it'd be a challenge for even an experience typist. Or not, I don't know what kind of speeds touch-typists can get up to. Maybe there are hundreds of secretaries with ninja-like typing skills up and down the country, prowling the streets at night and protecting humanity from horrifying beasts with nothing but a laptop and a copy of MS Word.

TotD really is a videogame, and it shares a lot of gameplay territory with many arcade titles, things like Gradius, even: it's about reflexes, accuracy and, to a certain extent, muscle memory. It's fun for precisely the same reasons as an action game, too, the sense of battling away while under pressure, the satisfaction of a perfectly executed combo, panicking because you can't find the question mark key. Well, maybe not that last one.

As an educational product, it feels like it would certainly be useful. I haven't spent enough time playing it to have seen any real benefit, but I imagine if you stuck with it it would definitely improve your typing. It succeeds where most "edutainment" titles fail by remembering to include both the "edu" and "tainment" aspects. It's an undeniably fun experience (unless you have carpal tunnel syndrome or something): I keep finding myself firing it up for a quick blast in my idle moments. The fun of the gameplay, the bizarre sense of humour of House of the Dead 2, the excellent music:

It all comes together much better than you'd expect, like a chocolate-covered pretzel, and I highly recommend you give it a whirl. The Dreamcast version is the most well-know, but it's also available for Windows. I'd avoid the arcade version, though:

That can't be a comfortable typing position, especially not for a tall person like myself. "What are you doing squatting in my arcade, you weirdo!?" the arcade manager would shout at me. "I'm trying to kill zombies with this keyboard, what does it look like?" I reply. "Oh, great, now he's hit me with a coathanger and killed me. Thanks a lot, dickbag." So yeah, stick with the Windows or Dreamcast versions.



Come with me, back to a time when you could turn on your TV and watch a huge man dressed as a drill sergeant drop-kick a voodoo priest, a time when the hair was long and lank, the theme songs were more bombastic than an eagle dropping an atom bomb on a vodka-swigging bear and the muscles bulged like a condom with a sack of potatoes poured inside. I am, of course, talking about pro-wrestling's glorious zenith: the WWF of the early nineties. There were plenty of WWF games made at the time, but today I'll be looking at one of the lesser-remembered ones: Technos' 1991 off-the-top-turnbuckle-em-up WWF WrestleFest.

When I was a kid, the WWF was pretty much the most exciting thing that existed, with every convoluted twist and nonsensical turn of the story demanding my utmost attention, the lives of these oily neon gods seeming like a religion worth following. If you'd declared that Bret Hart was the Second Coming of Christ and The Undertaker was Satan given mortal form, I would have believed you. I'm sure part of me knew that it was fake, probably due to attempting a suplex on my little brother and almost killing him or something, but (and this is the important bit) I didn't give a shit.
What I'm getting at is that wrestling from this era was something that I loved dearly and holds a large amount of nostalgic power over me, so this article may have something of a bias toward a general feeling of awesomeness.
First off, WrestleFest gives you two two game modes to choose from:

The main mode is "Saturday Night's Main Event", where you pick two wrestlers, form a tag team and battle your way through a series of computer-controlled tag teams until you reach the championship match with the Legion of Doom.

The other mode is "Royal Rumble". You choose your fighter and get plonked in the ring with five other wrestlers. If a wrestler is pinned for a three count, submits from a hold or is unceremoniously tossed out of the ring like a Christmas tree in mid-January then they're eliminated and a new wrestler jumps into the ring. This goes on until either a) you're eliminated or b) everyone else is.
Of course, the WWF's main appeal lay in the personalities of the wrestlers, so let's take a look at the mean mountains of muscle at your command.

Hulk Hogan

The most golden of tresses, the most orange of skin, a man who was so perpetually pumped-up he couldn't even take his shirt off with damaging it: Hulk Hogan was, is and probably always will be the world's most famous wrestling star. His portrait in WrestleFest doesn't quite capture his full glory, as they seem to have given him a rather severe lazy eye. Let that be a lesson to you, kids: don't use steroids or your eyes might fall out.

The Ultimate Warrior

A terrifying golem made of muscle, feathered hair and neon ribbons, The Ultimate Warrior (real, legal name- "Warrior") eschewed the standard WWF practice of cultivating a gimmick or ring persona by simply being a complete nutjob.

Mr. Perfect

AKA Curt Hennig, Mr. Perfect's gimmick was that he was, well, perfect. In an example of what made the WWF great, a man called "Mr. Perfect" wasn't even the most narcissistic wrestler around, a title which went to "The Narcissist" Lex Luger.
Big Boss Man

An angry Southern police man, seemingly designed to make impressionable children distrust and fear authority figures. Possibly a decent strategy, as I imagine kids would have a lot more respect for the law if they thought a policeman was going to turn up and piledrive them for nicking a few sweets from the tuck shop.

Sgt. Slaughter

With his military theme and drill-sergeant demeanour, Sgt. Slaughter proved that American entertainment is sensitive and respectful when he was portrayed as a traitor to America who worked with an evil Iraqi general during the Gulf War. Classy.


His gimmick is lard, and boy does he know how to use it. By sitting on you, that's how.

Jake "The Snake" Roberts

Jake clearly isn't an actual snake. You've lied to me, WWF! But he did carry one around with him a lot, and that time his cobra bit Macho Man Randy Savage was the stuff of playground legends: for possibly the first time in recorded history, a man in tights sporting the unfortunate "receding mullet" hairstyle was the coolest man on Earth.

Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase

My all-time favourite wrestler - while all the other kids wanted to be The Hulkster or Bret Hart, I was always DiBiase. Why? Because he was an absolute dick, that's why. His schtick was his vast wealth, which he used to pay people to perform humiliating acts, buy the support of wrestlers and, best of all, create his own diamond-studded "Million Dollar Belt" because he couldn't win a proper title. I personally find it very hard to dislike a man who can think around problems like that.

The Demolition

Sorry, Crush and Smash, but I just don't remember you. I'm sure you were cool and all, but when it comes to face-painted tag-teams with violent-sounding names, there was only one pair of villains to turn to...

Legion of Doom

I'm not sure the Legion of Doom understood the concept of the word "legion", but it didn't matter: the two of them were as powerful as a thousand men. Okay, maybe not in real life, but they are in WrestleFest. They're your final opponents in the tag-team mode, and they're much harder than everyone else you'll face.

The gameplay is essentially the same as Technos' previous effort, WWF Superstars. The controls are simple enough: you've got a punch button, a kick button and pressing them both together makes you run. Obviously kicking and punching is no way to kick ass in a wrestling game, so you'll be wanting to grapple with your opponent and bust out a devastating move. Okay, sure, but here's where I sort of lose track with WrestleFest: I have no idea how the grappling works.

Okay, I have some idea what's going on. Once you're grappling with your opponent, pressing punch gets them in a headlock. You can drag them around by the neck for a while, or you can press punch again to perform a damaging move or press kick to Irish whip them across the ring. That makes sense, but what I don't understand is how you win the grapples. In most wrestling games, Royal Rumble on the SNES for instance, you have to mash the buttons to win the grapple in a sort of tug-of-war system, but this doesn't seem to be the case in WrestleFest. So, sometimes you win the grapple and sometimes you don't, and there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to it, unless like me you're playing as Ted DiBiase and you can safely assume that whenever he wins a grapple, he paid the other wrestler to let him win.

The confusing aspect is that you're never sure what move's going to come out of the grapple if you do win it. At least this bit seems to make a little more sense: certain moves are more likely to come out when you're in a certain position or if you or your opponent is low on health.
Other than the confusion regarding the grappling (and that might well just be me not getting it), the gameplay is a lot of fun. Your characters move around smoothly, and getting them to do what you want (climbing up to the top rope and jumping on a downed opponent, for example) is intuitive enough.

The main gameplay challenges don't so much come from the fighting, but effective use of your partner. Every so often your partner will "power-up", as indicated by it subtly saying POWER UP over their health bar. If you tag them in while their powered up, they always win their grapples and do more damage. In general, most of the strategy comes down to making good use of tagging out. Of course, this works both ways: if you're trying to pin someone, their teammate will run into the ring and kick you off. Unless, that is, you take control of your teammate and stop their teammate from preventing you from making the pin. What? Where was I? I confused myself a little there, but trust me, it all makes sense and works nicely. You can even drag people over to your teammate and let them batter your foe while you hold them still.

The moves themselves are all nicely represented, and few things in this world are as satisfying as giving someone a digital piledriver, complete with meaty-sounding sound effects. Best of all, everyone can perform their signature moves! Hulk Hogan's got his flying leg drop (large man jumps on you), Earthquake's got his Earthquake Splash (huge man jumps on you) and Ted DiBiase has the Million Dollar Dream (large man strangles you until you lose conciousness).

Graphics wise, I love WrestleFest, I really do. Aside from a couple of wonky portraits and the extremely feeble-looking kick animation that everyone seems to have, they're excellent in a very specific way that really captures the over-the-top, day-glo glow nature of WWF at the time. Everything feels "big" in an undefinable way that, at the time, only arcade games could deliver.
Sound-wise, the effects are good and solid, and there's even commentary. Sure, it's occasionally garbled, but you get the idea. As for the music, I can't really say I heard that much of it over the sounds of men bashing into each other, but I did notice that the start of the intro music sounds like the wedding march from some parallel dimension, perhaps an alternate universe when humans re-evolved from wrestlers, who were the only survivors of a global catastrophe.

Like I said at the start, nostalgia was always going to play a part in shaping my opinions of WWF WrestleFest. Would I enjoy it as much if it didn't have the WWF license and instead featured poor imitations like Henk Horgan, Mr. Flawless or Major Carnage? Okay, bad example, because I would love it if it was like that, complete with a poorly-translated intro that explains they're fighting to become the "Number One Quarreler". You know what I mean, though, and yes: the WWF license and my nostalgia do make a difference. In the end, though, it makes much less of a difference than I though it would. WrestleFest is a solidly put-together game, and it's fun, pure and simple; nothing complicated, just good clean arcade fun. Whack it on four-player mode, start up a Royal Rumble and prepare for good times. As the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage would say: OOOOHHH YEEEEAAAHHH!



Something a bit different from VGJUNK today, as I have made a video filled with violent comedic intent. It doesn't really have anything to do with videogames, aside from being drawn in a pixel style and having a bit of chiptune music, but I had to put it somewhere. So, here's the first (and maybe only) episode of The Not-Especially Wild Adventures of Ted and Irwin, in which our heroes battle a soul-shredding terror as they try to make lunch.

Now, a problem arises in that I have no idea if this would be considered funny or not by the big wide world. Therefore, I am relying on you, gentle viewer, to let me know what you think. Please, tell me if you think it's good, if you think it sucks or especially if you think to produce more would be an embarrasment to not only myself but my children and my children's children. The production of future episodes is based on audience response!



It's nice to know that, despite the fact that middle age is bearing down on me like a rhinoceros on a motorcycle, the phrase "robot ninja" still has the power to make me stop and take notice. "Go ahead," my brain whispers, "check it out. Robot ninjas. You can't ignore that, they might have swords hidden in their arms or rocket feet or something. Go on, play it. Girls will like you if you know about these things and you can protect them from cyborg ninjas when the machines inevitably attempt to enslave the human race". So, I'm going to be looking at Taito's 1987 arcade slash-em-up The Ninja Warriors in the desperate hope that doing so will silence the voices in my head.
It's the space-year 1993, and the US President has gone mad and turned the country into a brutal military dictatorship. Some people are understandably not keen on this turn of events, so they create a pair of robot ninjas to go and assassinate the President. Aah, "Robot ninjas assassinate President". It just makes you feel warm inside, don't it?

Of course, getting to the President isn't easy: after all, one of the perks of running a military dictatorship is having a large supply of soldiers at your disposal. And dogs. And ninjas, I guess? There's a lot going on. Say what you like about this new reign of terror, but the army's recruitment policies have never been more fair and open.

That's you on the left, the red-clad ninja with the two chef's knives. Player two controls a male, blue ninja robot, but they both play identically. Now, you might have noticed that these screenshots are, like my beer-filled gut, much wider than the norm. That's because The Ninja Warriors' cabinet had a three-screen gimmick, for a sort of proto-widescreen effect:

The gameplay is fairly standard: get your ninja from one end of the stage to the other, stabbing anything that gets in your way. You've got an attack button for swiping with your ninja knives, and holding it down lets you block. You start each life with 30 shurikens that you can throw with the other button. The stick moves you left and right, and pressing up makes you jump. Easy-peasy ninja squeezy.

Side-scrolling: it's a phrase I've tossed around with wild abandon in the past, applying it to every roaming beat-em-up I can find and to hell with the inaccuracies. Then along comes The Ninja Warriors and forces me to reappraise my use of the phrase, because this is the single most side-scrolling game ever. There's no up-and-down element to the combat, no movement between foreground and background, just left-to-right movement. The graphics, while very nice with some lovely details, feel very flat, giving the whole game a feel that I can only describe as being a bit like a Game-and-Watch. There hasn't been anything with this much flat fighting action since the Bayeux Tapestry.

Your enemies mostly consist of soldiers from the world's most poorly-equipped army: only about one in fifteen soldiers has a gun, and the rest just charge at you with knives. This can lead to the rather amusing situation of being chased by a knife-wielding soldier who, unfortunately for him, has to pause for a second while he stabs. He pauses, you keep walking and he's left forever stabbing thin air, the poor sod. There are also hunchbacked ninjas with metal claws who, with their cardigans and brown slacks, remind me of a cross between the assassins from The Castle of Cagliostro and my grandad.

Gameplay-wise, everything's ticking along quite well. For now, at least, lady-robo-ninja has enough space to jump around, dispatching her foes with style and grace. To go with the gameplay, you've got some very nice graphics for the time. They're well animated, the backgrounds have some interesting little details to them, and your ninja takes visible damage. It's a nice touch, and particularly impressive is the fact that you get damaged depending on where you've been hit - for example, trying to use your shins as some kind of bulletproof shield will result in your ninja's robotic legs becoming visible.
The other thing is the music. Created by Hisayoshi Ogura and Taito's in-house band Zuntata, it's regarded as a classic soundtrack and is held in particularly high regard in Japan. The first track, the bizarrely-titled "Daddy Mulk", is especially famous, and that's because it's really good.

There aren't many videogame tracks that are so good they feature a solo followed by synthesised applause, but I think this just about deserves it. The Mega-CD version is even better, so if check it out on YouTube if you're interested.
That's the first stage, then. What? Is there a boss? Well, sort of...

There's this purple ninja lady who has hair almost as extravagant your character's. Here you can see her just after she's killed me and my robot has exploded. I assume she's a robot too, because otherwise that means she's a human who's strong enough to chop up a metal robot with a sword. To be fair, your ninja does take damage from walking into a human, so she's hardly the fucking Terminator, is she? Anyway, purple ninja lady isn't all that tough, and you can move onto stage two.

It's an airfield, and the folly of lubricating your robot ninja's joints with Pedigree Chum becomes clear as a pack of dogs launch themselves at you. I hope there aren't any animal rights activists watching, because that dog's getting stabbed right in the face. The dogs are tougher than the soldiers, being a lot quicker and all, but at least I don't have to fight a tank or anything.

Oh look, it's a tank. For an evil army that is so clearly underfunded, these guys do not have a shortage of tanks. Unfortunately for them, they don't really know how to use their tanks. The main gun'll shoot at you from a distance, but the main method of attack is a guy who pops out of the hatch and shoots at you with the machine gun. I say "at you", but it'd be more accurate to say he always fires at a spot on the floor about a foot in front of the tank. He's easy enough to deal with, just jump up and shuriken him while he's shooting that patch of floor. The odd thing his, when he's been killed the tank driver says to himself "welp, see ya!" and drives away, completely forgetting that he's in control of an armoured vehicle with a large-caliber cannon and treads that could easily crush something like, I dunno, a robot ninja. Oh well, it's a let-off for our hero, I suppose.

And along you go, stabbing soldiers and dogs until you reach the boss. And the boss is... another tank. One other thing: in the picture above, there's a notice on the wall that says "the official, identified in the court documents as TS, Wham! the final concert and explosivis notified the XP." Colour me bloody confused. Perhaps someone on the development staff just really likes Wham!

Stage three takes place inside the army base. Look at all those tanks! Makes you wonder why hundreds of men wielding nothing more powerful than a Swiss army knife are being sent to their deaths at the hands of a remorseless killer robot when there's a battalion of tanks waiting right fucking there, but I'm not a military strategist so what do I know?
Also of note: flying bat/ninja/old lady things that swoop down from the ceiling and try to kill you with a headbutt, or headbutt no jutsu. Well, they are ninjas after all.

The boss appears, and what a prick he is too. He's got a ball-and-chain and he's wearing a helmet that looks like a silver wig glued to a flat cap. He presents something of a problem, because aside for the fact it's difficult to get close to him because of his swinging balls, it's very difficult to tell if you're actually hurting him. I think there's supposed to be a a sound-effect to let me know if my blows are hitting flesh or armour, but they don't seem all that reliable.
The other problem with fighting this guy is your weapons. If you are planning on killing hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers, dogs and assorted thugs, then please make sure you take a weapon that has a longer reach than a goddamn packet of gum. Ninja lady's knives require you to be so close to your opponent that you could count each individual pubic hair: not really a problem against the knifemen, but more of an issue when fighting this fat bastard who can keep you away with his ball-and-chain. Still, after a prolonged bout of jumping over the boss and stabbing him in the back, the stage is over and it's back out onto the streets.

These are the streets, and for once they don't seem all that mean. They're pleasant, even; nice looking restaurants, good view of the city, a modern-looking library with a statue of a half-Roman-half-conquistador-type fella. Sure, you have to put up with the occasional tank ineffectually trying to kill you, but nowhere's perfect.

The boss is also a tank, and they're still just as useless as before. When a dog is doing a better job at destroying your enemies than a tank, you need to start re-thinking your military strategy.

The next stage is the obligitory sewer stage, and boy is it dull. Your main challenge here? Bats. After you've trudged your way through the (uncharacteristically bland) level, throwing shuriken at the bats and laughing as the soldiers repeatedly jump-kick into a wall because they can't figure out how to duck, you'll reach the boss.

Oh. You again. He's the same as before, except maybe a little tougher. You killed him? Oh good. He'll be back again soon. More than once, too. And you thought you were fed up of him already!

That's a spot of luck: the sewer comes up right outside the villain's palatial mansion. "Daddy Mulk" is playing as the stage theme again, and that's fine by me because I could listen to it all day (and I have been). Like any good ninja, our hero decides to wait until night, grapple up the outside of the compound, run across the rooftops, drop down through an open skylight and poison the villain while he sleeps. No, of course she doesn't, she walks in through the front door. Why was she even built as a ninja? It's not like she's been acting as a shadowy assassin through the game, has she? She fought a tank in the middle of the street in broad daylight for chrissakes. The only reason I can come up with to explain why she's in the form of a ninja and not a combat mech or a bear or some other, more useful form is that she's actually an animatronic puppet from a ninja-themed kid's restaurant that's been reprogrammed... for murder.

The rest of the stage sees you fighting a little of everything from the previous stages, including another version of the ball-and-chain boss, as well as some little laser-firing robots who look like refugees from a TMNT game. You actually have to do something other than just walk to the right on this stage, because there's a series of staircases that you can walk up and down in a Castlevania fashion. Here's a hint: unlike Castlevania, you're invincible when you're standing on the stairs. I suppose you could call it a maze, as there are walls preventing you from going straight to the top-right corner, but it's hardly taxing.

Once you get through to the top-right corner of the palace, the scene is set for a showdown. The guy in blue is your assassination target, the evil President Banglar. He calls for his troops to attack, including yet another version of the ball-and-chain guy, and boy do they attack. Ninja Warriors stops being fun at this point: between the tiny range of your attacks, the fact that your shurikens have all the stopping power of a tissue dipped in caramel and the sheer amount (and size) of the enemies, this fight rapidly becomes an exercise in feeding credits into the machine because there simply isn't enough room for a normal person to play skillfully.
Still, once you've done it you'll never have to see that ball-and-chain guy again.

Straight after that fight, and the President cowers in the corner of the room with no way out. That's what you get for living in a house that's just one long corridor, you scumbag. He doesn't put up a fight, so all that's left is to stab him and complete your mission. Huzzah! He's dead, you've saved the world (I guess?) and now it's time to look forward to a nice, long robot retirement, sitting in a mechanical rocking chair and reminiscing about the time a ninja dressed as a bat tried to kill you by gliding into you. Sounds lovely! Wait, what are you doing?

Turns out it was a suicide mission all along, and our ninja friend has been carrying a bomb in her robot guts. It explodes, the mansion is destroyed, and you're treated to some prime mistranslated English as the epilogue plays.

"A revorution broke out. And everything became to an end. The troubled country seemed to be finished by the death of the wicked machines. But the peace did not came. Because Ninja Warriors, they are immortal murder machines....."
I'd much rather have a nice slab of Engrish that a fancy ending sequence, you know. The odd thing is, this text has an English voiceover, and it gets all the English correct. Strange.
This text does seem to suggest that, despite the fact that I just saw a small nuclear explosion go off on the region of her robot ovaries, our hero isn't dead. In fact, she's "immortal", thus making her the most useful suicide bomber ever.

I must admit, Ninja Warriors has its moments, especially in the earlier levels before every other enemy is a ball-and-chain guy and there's a bit more freedom to move around. Playing as a robot ninja is something that never gets old, even if the only ninja-esque thing about her is her clothes. The music's great, probably the best thing about the game, and the graphics are nice too. It's got its fair share of flaws, though: the repetitiveness of the gameplay, the feeling of restriction due to the very narrow play area and the difficulty spikes towards the end of the game are the major ones.
So would I recommend playing it? On the whole, I think I would. At least give it a quick go, enjoy the music, stop playing as soon as it gets frustrating and move on to the vastly superior SNES sequel, erm The Ninja Warriors.

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