Sounds like a martial arts game doesn't it? It is, but not in the way you probably think. Ninja Master is not a two-player, bash the brains out, oriental kick and punch, like Sai Combat as the screen shots on the insert make clear. In this game you are the lone ninja. The game is no more than four reaction tests.
Graphics are very simple indeed, flat single-colour backgrounds depicting such anachronistic settings as a sports arena (complete with ads for Coca-Cola and Sinclair) and the Egyptian desert, complete with small pyramid and bizarre looking sphinx.
The ninja himself is not badly designed but hopelessly animated. In the first section, where he has to kick or punch away a series of arrows coming from different directions at different speeds, his arms and legs shoot off at right-angles from the rest of his torso as though independently motivated. Slick it isn't.
The real problem with the game, however, is that it is very easy. On my first attempt I scored sufficiently highly to pass through three of the four levels. Level One is arrow bashing; Two is a sort of mini Track and Field, except that you stab at alternative keys to build up enough power to smash through a log; Level Three is 'probably the hardest level' and has you smashing ninja stars with your sword. Level 4 is just like a duck shoot, your ninja tries to shoot down tossed cannisters with a blow pipe. Whatever minimal challenge there is to the game wears very thin, very quickly.
Ninja Master really cannot be recommended on any level, the presentation of the package may make a lot of people think they are getting some sort of Exploding Fist variant. They may feel cheated.
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
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