You want a good reason to own a TurboGrafx-16? There is no better reason than Irem's Ninja Spirit, a 2D side scroller that is still considered one of the greatest action games of all time. Forget Ninja Gaiden or Ninja Commando, Ninja Spirit is the single best 2D ninja-based action game every released. The game is just as playable now as it was back then, and maybe now that 2D action games aren't a dime a dozen you may appreciate it even more.
Ninja Spirit stands alone as one of the very few ninja games that doesn't have a book's worth of story. Just look at Ninja Gaiden, there was a long drawn out cinema before every one of those 8-bit levels (and bosses). But not Ninja Gaiden, the only story you're going to get is the brief 83 word description in the manual. The game itself has no cut scenes and no characters speaking to each other in English. In fact, this game has no real English in the entire game. You'll get Japanese writing and that's about it.
But what the game lacks in story it more than makes up for when it comes to the amazing action. Ninja Spirit is like Contra with a sword; it's a fast paced action game that is punishingly hard, but well worth the time you put into memorizing its linear levels. If you're the type of person that cringes at the site of balls to the wall excitement then maybe you should divert your eyes from what has to be the greatest action game of the early 1990s.
After his father's murder, the hero (who just so happens to be a ninja) decides to go out on a quest and kill everything that moves. It's not that different from Kill Bill (and the death toll is about the same). While the set up for Ninja Spirit is nothing new it won't take you more than a few seconds to realize this is a different kind of ninja game. Ninja Spirit is the most fun you are going to have with your TurboGrafx-16; it's one of the best games to never get a sequel.
You start out as just one man, but thanks to your amazing sword work you will be able to power up your weapons and unleash hell on everything around you. From the get-go you are given the choice between four different weapons, the ninja sword, shurikens, bombs, and the sickle & chain. As you progress through the game you will run into power ups that improve each of these four weapons, and, thanks to the diverse cast of enemies, you will constantly be rewarded for using each of the weapons.
And that's not all; as you play through the game you will be able to spawn spirit versions of yourself that imitate your every action. The game allows you to have two extra versions of yourself walking around at all times, something that makes killing the legions of bad guys even easier. Best of all Ninja Spirit pits you against bosses that practically require you to utilize your extra spirits, for being a 16-bit action game Ninja Spirit proves to be a lot more forward thinking than most would give it credit for.
The game is constantly throwing characters at you, to the point where you're not going to have a lot of time to rest. The good news is that you will be visiting a large group of interesting locations, many of which dazzle on the TurboGrafx-16 hardware. The action is fast and there are constantly people on the screen for you to contend with. Even after you've seen everything there is to see you'll still want to go back and do it all over again, that's a testament to how much fun the game is to play. It's pure joy to play as this character, I couldn't get enough of his awesome looking sword and the powered up sickle and chain.
There are a couple of different ways to enjoy Ninja Spirit, but these different "modes" are merely difficulty settings. The PC Engine mode allows you to withstand five hits before dying, but the arcade mode has one-hit deaths. Even with five hits the game is pretty punishing, so you can only imagine the words you'll be saying while trying to battle it out in the arcade mode. No matter how you play it Ninja Spirit is still going to give you an action packed experience.
Ninja Spirit has a lot going for it. It's a great looking game, it has exciting boss battles, you'll love playing as this character and it's the type of game you'll want to play over and over. No matter the price, Ninja Spirit is a great game. It was one of the best games of that era, and still holds up remarkably well. It may look like all of those other 2D ninja games, but don't be fooled by Ninja Spirit, this really is one of the best action games you will ever play.