Atari Lynx Review: Ninja Gaiden on Lynx Lounge
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By Brian Thomas Barnhart |
Hey what is up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of Lynx Lounge! I’m your host BTB, welcome to the Lynx Lounge, and we are talking about arcade ports on the Atari Lynx.
I have a question for you: Are you ready for some amazing ninja action on the go for the Atari Lynx? You ARE? Perfect! I’ve got a great game for you, it’s called Ninja Gaiden! Let’s check it out:
Today we’re talking about a really good arcade port called Ninja Gaiden. Now, I know what you’re gonna say.
Well, we called it “Ninja Gay-den” when we were growing up, it’s kind of stuck, and it’s my show so I’m going to call it “Ninja Gay-den”. I’m not Japanese either, so how would I know the difference between a Gay-den and a Guy-den? You tell me.
Ninja Gaiden came out in 1988, and here’s the interesting thing: I remember this coming out for the NES first. This was an amazing game for the Nintendo. Really, really fast paced. Awesome ninja action. Then one day, at the Deer Creek Lanes bowling alley, I saw an arcade machine for Ninja Gaiden.
But here’s the thing: It was completely different from what we were playing on the NES. What the heck?? Ninja Gaiden the arcade game, and Ninja Gaiden the NES game came out at the same time. Two different games. Two different game styles. The one in the arcade was your beat-’em-up, your answer to your Double Dragons that were very popular at the time. We were just right at the very beginning of the side-scrolling beat-’em-up, and the NES game was like a fast-paced platformer, really really awesome, very fluid gameplay.
This game really stood out in the arcades because it was a good fighter, it had great graphics, but it also had these amazing cut scenes that really kind of told the story in a whimsical kind of way. When you got a “game over” there was this intense cut scene where this saw blade was going to cut your ninja in half and you only had 10 seconds to put a quarter in to keep playing.
I mean, this was cool stuff, nobody was really doing it at this time. I am happy to say that all of that cool stuff that you liked in the arcade is exactly what you’re going to get with this Atari Lynx. So, how about them apples?
So what moves can a ninja do? Well that’s pretty easy. He’s got the karate skills that you would think that any ninja would have. Your ninja can also grab onto things, like grab on to telephone poles. There are bars overhead that he can grab onto and kick the opponents, which is really cool. The game play is your standard Double Dragon game, however you could do a little bit more. Now, the interesting thing about this is that the controls actually really work well on the Atari Lynx.
The arcade cabinet had a very interesting button layout. You had your two buttons on the cabinet, like you would jump and kick, but there was also a button on the top of the joystick. Uh, now you know, you’re talking about three buttons.. so, does the Lynx have those three buttons? Sure. Do they work? Absolutely.
Hey what can I say about Ninja Gaiden? You get to punch and kick your way to ninja glory. There’s power ups to be had. Especially that sword. Man, once you get that sword power up, it is game on! But when you lose it, it’s a tough game. This game’s tough man, I’m not gonna lie. Now I’ve played this game for many years, and it doesn’t get any easier. I’m going to tell you that right now. It’s a tough, tough game, but it’s also very rewarding. You’re pulling off these moves, you’re flipping these dudes across the stage, kicking their butts. It’s very satisfying.
So let’s talk about the graphics. The graphics are amazing on the Lynx. What can I say? We’re talking about the Atari Lynx. We’re talking about 16-bit technology on the go. What else do you want? This is a good, good looking game. How does it sound? It sounds even better. The music is really, really driving. It really makes you want to push it to the limit. Kick some butt. I love the music on this game. The sound effects are great as well.
Let’s talk about the controls. The controls work. You have to get used to.. I don’t want to say that it’s like a little bit of a lag.. but they are on the sluggish side. However, it’s not detrimental. I have gotten used to it, and once you kind of get the rhythm of the game you can really lock into it and it’s not that much of a problem.
I got this when it first came out. I was really excited about it, I believe it was a Christmas present. This is one of those Atari Lynx games where the instruction manual was a poster. I remember I had that poster on the wall because it was a really amazing poster of the ninja on fire.
You flip the poster over and you have all of the instructions on how to play the game. Very, very cool if you actually folded it up and kept it nice with the box. I’m pretty sure that’s a poster that got destroyed. I’m pretty sure I don’t have that one. I have a few of the poster ones but, for the most part, you got a really great looking poster you wanna put it on the wall. Especially if it was a great arcade game.
You need to ask yourself: Do you have the skills? Do you have the heart to become the ninja master that you think you can? Well, you had better get yourself a copy of Ninja Gaiden otherwise how are you gonna find out? This is a great game.
You know, the interesting thing is that I keep coming back to these Lynx games. Now, these were games that I had when they first came out. I’ve sat on these games for a really long time. I’ve played them over the years occasionally, but really dipping back into them and doing a lot of research for the show, I have got such an appreciation for this system, for these games, that it’s mind-blowing. That’s right. My mind has been blown by what this system could actually do.
I don’t have to tell you that you need to go out and get yourself a copy of Ninja Gaiden. That’s right, “Gay-den” it’s not “Guy-den”! Maybe it is “Guy-den” I don’t know, I don’t care, because I call it “Ninja Gay-den”, alright? Go get that copy, you’ll love it! And go get yourself some nunchucks too. Or Numb-chucks. However you want to say it, or whatever. Start training on the nunchucks, start training on the Atari Lynx. Check out my other shows: The Jag Bar, if you want to take a look at Atari Jaguar stuff, Lynx Lounge for Atari Lynx, or 7800 Avenue if you’re into classic Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 video games. We’ll see you on the next episode of Lynx Lounge!
Ninja Gaiden was developed by Tecmo. It was released on the Atari Lynx in 1991.
Brian Thomas Barnhart is a classic gaming aficionado, retro pop culture connoisseur, and a Senior Fellow at Atari I/O. He is host of The Jag Bar, Lynx Lounge, 7800 Avenue, and the Atari I/O After Hours Podcast. Brian is a Moderator in the Atari I/O Forums under the name btbfilms76. You can follow him on Instagram and at his YouTube channel.
model # PA 2039