Filled with an overwhelming sense of self confidence after finding Contra quite easy I decided to try another game that is famous for its difficulty, Ninja Gaiden on the NES. Well this game was a walk in the park as well and I blazed through it. Actually I’m lying, this game was hell.
Unlike Contra, Ninja Gaiden lives up to its difficult reputation. The final two stages 5 and 6 had me tearing my hair out and swearing like crazy. However by that stage the difficulty had become a little unfair, unlike Contra which remains a fair challenge throughout. Ninja Gaiden actually uses its bad programming in the level design. If an enemy spawn point is at the edge of the screen it will continually spawn when it is killed. It’s not enough that the enemy placement and level design is fiendish enough as is but the level designers use this nasty quirk of the programming in some really nasty ways.
In a game filled to the brim with more dick moves than any other I’ve played it has what is for me the biggest dick move in videogame history. The final boss takes place over three forms, the second of which is one of the hardest bosses I’ve ever faced. However should you die on this boss no matter how many lives you have in reserve you are dumped back to the beginning of stage 6-1 and have to repeat stage 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3 before you have another chance at the boss. To put things in perspective, those 3 stages are absolute nightmares and it will take you at least 30 minutes until you get another shot at the boss. The bosses second form is so difficult that it will take you about 20-30 attempt to beat him. Between each attempt you’ll have to replay those stages. Apparently this was a bug that the original programmers couldn’t be bothered to fix. I managed to beat him by save stating right before him because I was sick of playing those horrible stages. I don’t care what you think; to me it counts as beaten.
So that’s an awful lot of complaining about the game but you know I did really enjoy it. The controls are fluid and it’s one of the best platformers on the NES. It’s one of the first games to use cutscenes to tell a story and even though it’s cheesy and cliché it does add a cinematic flair to the proceedings. Next up: Ninja Gaiden 2.