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The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors PS4 review

 *Editor's Note, The Geek Getaway received a review copy for PS4

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriorsis a remaster/reboot of the 1994 SNES game The Ninja Warriors. The game was released in July in Japan, at the end of August in Europe, and on October 15, 2019 in North America. The game is available on both Nintendo Switch and PS4 for $19.99. A day 1 physical edition will be available for $29.99. Included in the Day 1 Edition is a printed manual, some stickers, and a poster. Due to the Norh American release delay the Day 1 Edition will include special compensation gifts in the form of two-character cards depicting the new characters Raiden and Yaksha. The game was developed/remastered by Tengo Project, the core team behind the SNES game, and published by Taito Corporation.
Yaksha is short but she packs quite the punch!
As I said, The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is a reboot/remaster of the 1994 SNES game The Ninja Warriors. A fun bit of trivia about this game is the SNES game The Ninja Warriors which this game is the remaster of is itself a remaster of the 1987 arcade game The Ninja Warriors. So in essence, this is a remaster of a remaster. Another odd bit of trivia about these games is that the 1994 SNES game The Ninja Warriors is known as The Ninja Warriors Again in Japan, which had led some to consider the SNES game a sort of sequel to the arcade game. The biggest addition to this remaster is the addition of 2 new characters whom you unlock one at a time when you beat the game. Some are erroneously reporting that you need to beat the game in Hard mode to unlock Raiden but I can confirm you only need to beat the game twice in any mode to unlock him.
The 1987 arcade game had quite a different look to it then the SNES version
The story of Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is quite simplistic. An evil tyrant named Banglar has taken over an unnamed country and is violently oppressing the people. A small resistance force led by a man named Mulk is trying to fight back but is having no success. In a last ditch effort to overthrow Banglar, the resistance force sends out a group of androids to assassinate Banglar. You play as one of these androids and fight your way past Banglar's forces until you can confront and kill Banglar himself.

This simple story translates to 8 levels of left to right beat-em up action. Each character, except Raiden but we will get to him, controls in a similar style with 1 button to attack, 1 to jump, and 1 to unleash special moves. Combos are done by chaining basic attacks together until you finish off your foe with a cool move. If you get close enough to an enemy you can grab them and toss them around a few different ways. You can also jump horizontally, Ninja dashes forward instead of doing a horizontal jump, and unleash an attack on your enemies. Of course if things get too hectic you can unleash your screen clearing special attack, if your energy bar is full, and give yourself some breathing room.
The large Raiden has some unique tricks...
Now, there are many who have called this game, and its predecessor, a standard beat-em up and I wouldn't hold it against you if you thought so too but this game has many unique mechanics that no other beat-em up of the era, or today, has replicated. First off, you only have a single life and lifebar in this game. If you die in this game you are sent back to a check point. Each stage has at least 1 but there is no indication that you have reached a checkpoint until you die and are sent back to it. The next thing to note is that the single lifebar you have is for single player and co-op mode. Yes, in co-op mode you and your partner share a single lifebar and when it empties you both die.

 The lifebar isn't the only thing you and your partner share if you play in co-op mode. You also share the energy bar that is used to perform your special attacks. Thankfully your energy bar refills automatically in both modes so firing off a special move is never more than a few seconds away. Standard beat-em ups of the era used an ammo system that gave you limited uses of your screen clearing special. As cool as the energy bar system is, your bar goes back down to 0 if you are knocked off your feet. In co-op mode this energy bar drain applies to either player being knocked off their feet. The last unique feature of this game is the ability to block. I know that doesn't sound like much but the majority of beat-em ups of the era did not allow you, your enemies often could and did block, to block incoming attacks. turning into a bipedal machine gun!
Now that we covered the basics we should talk about the second of two new characters, the massive android named Raiden. Raiden does not jump in android mode, instead he hops a bit forward causing damage to nearby enemies. Raiden also does not grab enemies the same way other characters do as grabbing is one of Raiden's special moves. The last unique thing about Raiden is his ability to transform into a bipedal machine gun of death. In this mode Raiden's attacks all use energy so you can't just transform and mow down all the enemies with your guns. Oddly, Raiden does jump in his gun form and you can even do a jump attack that transforms you back to your robot form.
As strong as Yaksha is, she can't move with tossable objects
Ninja Saviors looks exactly how you remember SNES games from your childhood used to look, only it's actually graphically impressive and not the sad reality of what SNES really look with the rose tinted glasses off. The game is not a 1 for 1 update in the graphics department, instead the sprites and backgrounds are improved versions of what was in the SNES game. Levels are bigger and the game takes advantage of this with more tossable objects, highly detailed backgrounds, and bigger bosses. The returning characters also get graphical updates with a lot crisper colors and slightly tweaked sprites. Ninja has the most noticeable changes as he is bulkier in this game than he was in the SNES version.
The PS4 character select screen
The SNES character select screen

There a few other notable difference between this and the SNES version of the game. The music in Ninja Saviors received an overhaul and it sounds fantastic. However, if you want a trip down memory lane you can unlock both the arcade version of the music as well as the SNES version. All three sound great but I am partial to the SNES tunes myself. The removal of female enemies, something that many games of the era did when coming to America, has been reversed so American can experience the game as it was intended. This change is actually a big deal as the female enemies were completely removed and replaced on the SNES and not just redrawn as they were done for Final Fight. In this version Ninja can actually move while holding objects in this game. It is something he could not do on the SNES and only Raiden can replicate this feat. The last gameplay change was the addition of more special attacks for each character making their arsenals a bit more robust. This version of the game adds time attack modes for each level and an overall time attack challenge if you can beat the game without continuing. The Hard mode, which adds more enemies and tweaks the AI, is locked until you beat the game.
Facing tiny Wolverine wannabes on SNES
Challenging nimble female ninjas on PS4

The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors is a fun and challenging game that truly makes you feel like you are playing an old SNES game. This is good because modern games have become quite grandiose with convoluted stories and large open worlds that a simple left to right beat-em up seems fresh. It is bad because the characters still move like molasses and cheap enemy attacks abound in this game. There are a few minor complaints I have about the remaster, character walk speed among them, but there isn't anything that keeps the game from being enjoyable. I still think they should have given the block function its own button instead of needing to hold down the attack button. Regardless of that gripe, this is definitely something I would have picked up if I hadn't received a review copy.

Final Verdict: Recommended!

SNES Stage 1 boss incel vs
the PS4 Stage 1 boss Chad

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines