The Ninja Saviors (Warriors): Return of the Warriors Review – Switch

A mutant Banglar has taken over the world and uses mind control to make humans do his bidding, a resistance has been smashed but some there’s one last hope, some untested ninja androids. Welcome to The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors. Ninja Saviors is a 2D beat ’em up on a single plane. The 80s arcade roots obvious as this is actually a remake of a 90s SNES game based on an 80s arcade game.

First things first, go to options then display settings and turn effect color on to see blood gush out of flesh bags standing in your superior android way.

This is what happens when you send flesh warriors to fight an android.

Quite strangely but brilliantly for a beat ’em up of old there’s blocking, dodging (which I lovingly call a ninja flip) and each character has unique commands and attacks. You can grab enemies by walking into them and throw them upwards by pressing up and attack together when grabbed, trust me you’ll thank me for that tip at one point in the game. There’s only one plane of play which means no walking into and out of the screen like most 90s beat ’em ups so ducking and jumping have extra importance as ducking can avoid attacks with low attacks needing to be blocked low and wow will need to learn to block and dodge in this game because it’s as though as a piece of beef jerky that’s been left in the fridge since 1994. An interesting mechanic is that your super bar is called battery and fills with time, can be used for a bomb that attacks all enemies on screen or part of it for an attack unique to each android and it gets lost when you’re knocked to the ground a few times.

BOOM!

There are five characters, two of which are new and unlock through completing the game. Ninja Saviors features the most varied fighting styles I’ve ever experienced in a beat ’em up. There’s your agile Kunoichi who can do flying kicks back and forth staying in the air, technical Kamaitachi who can fire needles into the air behind him, big boy Ninja who is a beast with a rocket dash but very small dodge. Then there’s the brand new characters Yaksha who’s got a small jump but extendy arms and is the most technical and in my opinion the hardest to play of the bunch. Finally once you’ve beat the game twice you get Raiden a giant android who towers over your puny human foes and can transform into a minigun on legs but is extremely slow and turns around by holding back and double tapping jump, he is insane fun to play as you swat enemies away like flies.

Taste my flames!

A group of enemies can easily infect half a health bar of damage so ninja flipping around their attacks then smacking them down with your kunai is extremely satisfying and helps you feel like a real badass in the same way the 3D Ninja Gaiden games do. The CPU is Ninja Saviors likes it’s shady tactics as enemies spend a lot of their time backing off the screen so you can’t hit them, luring you to the edge of the screen to get in some sneaky hits.

There’s a great variation of interesting things laying about the side of your path to saving the world such as little tractors in what looks like a dilapidated tunnel/train track and sea mines just hanging out on the side of the road. Nothing beats the satisfaction of throwing a tractor as a giant mechanical man, with the added bonus of having some invulnerability as you’re picking up the tractor. The only problem is the detection for picking up objects is very particular and small leaving me jabbing at thin air more often than not. 

Big boss? A tractor will sort him out.

You can time attack with online leaderboards, but if you die even once that’s no entry for you. I think this really ruins the fun as dieing would obviously cost you a lot of time anyway and reset points can be a few minutes back. What does help keep you alive is that if you get half your health back after beating a stage. Luckily you can time attack single stages which are often manageable without dying once used to the game but it’s quite the same. Ninja Saviors is so hard that a day before release only one person out of hundreds had actually completed the game without dying. The furthest I managed was the stage 5 (of 8) boss before envietably my android head exploded and that was it run over. 

Things can get hectic.

Back in the day I could reach the final boss of Turtles in Time, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe on a single continue but the skill needed to take on Ninja Saviors is something else. Once you’re used to the game you learn that most times you’re hit it’s completely fair, your fault and could’ve been avoided even though at first I thought it takes too long to turn round and died a lot because of it, not that turning is sluggish you just get pincered a lot. Then I learnt you barely take any damage you ninja flip out the way when being attacked from behind. What’s really crazy is developers Natsume Atari felt they needed to include a hard mode with more enemies on screen at once and harder enemies popping up earlier on.

There’s always a lift at some point in a beat ’em up.

My favourite way to play a beat ’em up is coop but there’s no drop in multiplayer nor online multiplayer. To make matters worse you share health and battery power plus there’s crazy amounts of extra enemies. Multiplayer could easily create arguments about health and may not be the best idea for siblings to play together. It’s also hard to play with friends as you need to ‘git gud’ to be able to play without just dying over and over in the hectic multiplayer mode.

An Arms tie in for the Switch version would’ve been amazing.

Ninja Saviors looks like a cleaned up SNES game so much so that after the first time I completed it I actually forgot for a second it wasn’t just a release of a SNES like many of the Capcom collections. Among the enemies there’s about three palette swaps per enemy so not an outrageous amount.

There is a great retro soundtrack that sounds like it could’ve been straight from the SNES and the sound effects are both fitting with the aesthetic and help you know what attacks hit or are blocked.

Transformers, robots in disguise.

At about an hour and a half long Ninja Savior is a decent length for an old school beat ’em up, it’ll take a lot longer too if you die a lot. Then there’s replay value of trying to complete the game without dying, hard mode and learning how to play the game with all the distinct characters. Other beat ’em ups might provide better value for money and better multiplayer but they won’t offer a unique challenge like Ninja Saviors and you won’t feel as big a badass as you satisfyingly take on the corrupt world.

A big thank you to Taito for providing the review code. The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is available now digitally for £16.99/€19.99 as well as physically. 

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