When I was a kid, going into junior high school, I didn’t really have any after school constructive activity; I had played baseball the majority of my childhood but I wasn’t really that great to keep going; I played the trumpet in school band but I mostly only did that to get out of class; but my dad and uncle put me and my cousins into martial arts and we never looked back. It was a great sport/activity/ way of life to be exposed to and taught me many lessons I use to this day. But, like any testosterone filled boy of that age, I was already hugely into martial arts and ninja movies, shows, hell anything to do with that genre. Especially video games.
Two of the most badass ninja games of all time come from the old days of gaming and I’ve been playing them both recently: Ninja Gaiden and Black Belt.
This game had cut scenes! And they were amazing! As cool as everything about this game is, the music, the cinematography, the ninja gameplay, no one can deny it’s difficulty. It’s downright nasty to the player, and never lets up. Imagine if everytime you got hit or ran into something, it knocked you back 3 feet; can you imagine bumping your knee on your bed frame at night, then flying back through your bedroom door, smashing it into pieces? Yeah, get used to it. And the game knows this and utilizes it at every level, like an ex-girlfriend holding pics of you in high heels when you played dress up for her as an “experiment.” There are numerous ledges, and edges with guys waiting, sometimes shooting at you, and there’s no freakin’ way around it but to die, and die, and die again. No mercy.
Yet…..(there is a yet), this game is still a classic. Challenging, yes, Borderline Sycophantic? Maybe, but every element put into this game is top notch quality and that’s why it endures…that and people just can’t not stop trying to beat it. I know I won’t.
Tell me This doesn’t look like 8bit glory?
Black Belt (Sega Master)
Black Belt is the hardcore as f*** love child of Altered Beast, Kung Fu and Street Fighter. You scroll along feudal Japan kicking ass and not bothering taking names and every few feet of screen, you stop and do one on one battle with a different “mini-boss”, could be a guy who only sweeps, a guy who has a lunging spear, it’s all different scenarios, and I love the strategy element to how you’re going to take this guy out, because like we all know, anything 8-bit, you keep your same power bar the whole freaking time!
Then, you find the end of the stage where one of these bad mamajamas pictured above wait for you; they take a bit more finesse and video game tricks to beat; they are your normal end of level bosses; But, don’t forget the best part- you are doing karate all over their asses! You’re taking it hand to hand, fist to fist and foot to face. Could there be anything better? As far as fun, nothing on this console tops this title. There may be better put together games, more originality, more memorable, but nothing touches the goofy, 70’s style martial arts zaniness this game packs and packs with a wallop!