Mean Machines

Shadow Warrior

Publisher: Tecmo
Machine: Nintendo (EU Version)

Published in Mean Machines #10

Shadow Warrior

Ninja Ryu Hayabusa is out to shuriken some butt! His father Ken has been killed and in accordance with his last wishes, Ryu has taken the mystical Dragon Sword to America. But all is not well, and an evil gang want the sword so they can use it to revive the demon they worship.

Shadow Warrior, known in Japan and America as Ninja Gaiden, stars Ryu as he travels through America hacking and kicking foes as he goes. The game is split into six acts, which are in turn divided into a total of twenty sub-areas. Ryu starts in Galesburg then progresses through Death Valley and Yomi's Cave to the enemy hideout in the Temple of Darkness.

At the end of each act, Ryu has to take on the members of The Malice Four who control the actions of the gang. After defeating their leader, Bloody Malth (and his pet dog), Ryu has to fight the demon himself, and drive him back into the Underworld where he belongs!

Mystical Weapons

Shadow Warriors

If Ryu can find them, he can make use of four different weapons which draw their power from his Spiritual Strength. When that's gone, the weapons are useless!

1. Throwing Star Primitive, and not very effective, but at least it kills the more irritating, weaker foes from a distance.

2. Windmill Throwing Star More powerful than the ordinary throwing star, and it has the extra effect of swinging backwards, boomerang-style.

Shadow Warriors

3. The Art Of Fire Wheel An extension of the Invincible Fire Wheel. This lets Ryu create a fire wheel then cast it towards an enemy.

4. Jump 'N Slash Allows Ryu to perform spin jumps holding his sword so that anything he hits is instantly sliced into little bits suitable for stir-fry.

Ninja Binge

Interestingly enough, Ninja Gaiden was actually reviewed in issue zero of Mean Machines (which was never in the shops) because it was originally scheduled for release last year. Since then, though, it seems that Ninjas have become a taboo subject in Britain, especially when they're the subject of a product aimed at kids (why d'you think the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles?).

Shadow Warriors

Hence, Ninja Gaiden was transformed into Shadow Warrior. Shadow Warriors is a Tecmo arcade game, which, though similar (insofar as it's a beat-'em-up), certainly shouldn't be confused with this Nintendo game.

Ninja Theatrics

Shadow Warrior features Tecmo's Tecmo Theater idea, which tells the story of the game with animated sequences between levels. There's a sequence at the beginning of each chapter to introduce characters like Irene Lew, the mysterious vamp, and Walter Smith the famous archaologist. Finally Guardia de Mieux, who calls himself Jaquio, reveals himself as the mastermind behind the plans. He's holed up in the temple ruins, and it's up to Ryu to teach him a lesson...


The more I play this game, the more it reminds me of Nintendo Batman. The platform, leaping-between-walls-gameplay is very similar, but then, seeing as Batman was one of the best NES games of 1990, that can't be a bad thing.

Shadow Warriors

Shadow Warrior's graphics aren't quite as stylish as Batman's but they still do a credible job. The sprites are detailed and well-animated, and the Tecmo Theater interludes help supply a lot of atmosphere.

Shadow Warrior is probably the best arcade-style Ninja game on the NES, so anyone after some Shinobi-type shuriken shenanigans can't go wrong buying this.


The animation of the main sprite is so good that I was instantly impressed by this game, and I was pleased to find the rest of the game, in terms of graphics, sound and gameplay, is up to the same high standard.

Shadow Warriors

Don't be put off by the fact that you get an infinite number of continues - you won't be able to finish the game in half an hour, simply because there is so much to get through.

The difficulty level is cleverly set, so that every time you lose a life you have to repeat the last part of the level anyway. Often this makes a game frustrating, but in Shadow Warrior it just made me more determined to nail more Ninja ass.

Anyone who appreciates quality should make sure their piggy bank is full by September, then rush out and buy this as it's the best arcade-style game on the NES for yonks.


Shadow Warriors

Presentation 92%
Brilliant "Tecmo Theater" animations tell the story and add tons of atmosphere.

Graphics 88%
Most of the sprites (especially Ryu) are great and the backgrounds are nifty, too!

Sound 80%
Good dramatic soundtracks and the effects are well up to standard.

Shadow Warriors

Playability 90%
The fast-paced action will keep lovers of fast arcade action coming back again and again.

Lastability 85%
There are unlimited continues, but beating all 20 levels still takes some doing, and you're sure to keep playing till the end.

Overall 90%
A superbly presented Ninja game which proves very playable.