Have you ever dreamed of being a ninja, creeping amongst the shadows completely undetectable to those around you? Have you ever dreamed of slowly easing toward the edge of a building with your back pressed against the wall, taking a peek around the corner only to spot a guard? You know there are several ancient ninja techniques you could use to take this guard out, but you want to choose the best one for the situation. So you step into view dressed in a skimpy red miniskirt and attempt to seduce the guard with your red-hot ninja sexiness.
The guard, of course, doesn’t fall for it and charges directly at you, so you decapitate him with your “tetsugen” (a bladed wire). OK, maybe it wasn’t the most honorable way for a ninja to kill a guard, but it sure is quicker than all that stealth crap. Maybe you’ve just had a nightmare. Or maybe you’re playing Red Ninja. After all, there isn’t much difference between the two.
In Red Ninja you play as Kurenai, a young girl whose father was killed by the evil clans of Shingen Takeda. After killing her father, they hanged Kurenai from the nearest tree using the bladed wire. After being rescued, Kurenai trains and becomes a deadly ninja whose only goal is to avenge her father’s murder. Sound cookie-cutter? It is. The storyline isn’t very well-written, and to make matters worse, the voice acting in the cut scenes is just as forgettable.
But who cares about the story or voice acting in a ninja game, right? We all just want to kick some butt. While there are several weapons at your disposal such as a blowgun, daggers and throwing knives, there’s really only one weapon you need to use, the trusty tetsugen. With its wired blades surprisingly lethal, it can be used from short range to slice enemies to pieces. Upgrades are available including different blade types and new attacks, but as you play through the game you’ll notice the weapon is too powerful and eliminates most of the challenge from the fighting. If you choose to sneak up on enemies it is possible to implement one-shot kills, but most people will run in swinging the bladed wire of death and dice their way to victory. Why? Because the weapon is too powerful and the AI involves a single script: spot enemy and run directly toward her.
The real challenge in playing Red Ninja comes during the platforming portions of the game. Swinging from poles, jumping to ledges and doing some wall running are all incorporated in achieving the goals in each mission. The problem is that fighting with the horrible camera is a lot more challenging than the brain-dead AI guards. Combine that with the frustration of trying to hit just the right wall-running spot or climbing to the next ledge, and you might wish you had a real-life tetsugen to hang yourself.
Red Ninja looks nice graphically, with a Prince of Persia-style soft glow to it. Even though it’s a fairly nice-looking game, though, it lacks the personality and detail of games such as Prince of Persia. Likewise, the sound effects are generally well done, but they’re held back by some bad voice acting. The music, comprised mainly of flute-heavy traditional tunes, fit the setting perfectly, but to be honest, Red Ninja could have the world’s best graphics and the greatest audio ever recorded, but the boring combat and frustrating platforming mechanics would still ruin it.
Unless you’ve always dreamed of playing as a ninja in a little red miniskirt, who just happens to also be a master at killing with a tetsugen, you should stay far away from this game. If you could make the game disk into a ninja throwing star, it would be more fun than playing Red Ninja.
- Gameplay: 4
- Combat is too easy and the platforming is terrible.
- Graphics: 7.5
- Looks good but lacks detail.
- Sound: 7
- The sound effects are OK and the music is good, but there is some bad voice acting.
- Replay: 3
- I doubt many people will even finish the game once.
- Overall: 5
- Coming soon to a bargain bin near you.
— Randie Kilgore