Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
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Ryu Hayabusa is the latest in a long line of Dragon Ninjas. Unfortunately, his martial arts skills often take him away from his village, and the last time he returned home to see his family and friends, they were all, er, rather corpse-like.
A lone survivor told him a band of villains ransacked the village and murdered its inhabitants. Worse, they stole the Bushido, an ancient scroll which can give its owner the power to control the world (what nonsense!). Ryu vows to take back the scroll and deliver vengeance (sounds like a mix-up at the sorting office).
Ryu's death-dealing begins in a forest, where he scales trees, avoids spiked pits and dodges bad ninjas' throwing stars. Defeating an end-of-level sumo, later stages take place against the Tokyo skyline, in a cave, across a frozen landscape and at a temple.
Lesser Bushido scrolls restore energy and give weapons, but its the controls and your use of them which make this game. Ryu moves like a well-oiled machine and responds quickly. Small but detailed sprites are urged through moody backgrounds by startlingly realistic sounds.
Some obstacles look impossible to overcome but the right combination of jumps and flips wins the day. The controls work a treat.
Varied levels and tough villains add up to a major challenge you won't give up on. Ninja Gaiden’s enough to satisfy even those who've tired of the platform genre.