NINJA (1986)
[Entertainment USA / Mastertronic]
Design & Artwork: Words & Pictures Ltd

(Text from Rear of Cassette label):
NINJA: It blast the black belt off all other martial arts games!!


REVIEW by AtariGrub

The Ninja of Ancient Japan were trained in the martial arts and experts in assassination, infiltration and sabotage. In this game from Mastertronic, you play a Ninja in search of the kidnapped Princess Di-Di and must gather all seven idols dropped by the Princess in order to prove your worth.

You begin the game in the location titled 'Torii by the Sea' and find three random weapons strewn about the screen. These items are either spinning death stars, throwing daggers or a combination of both, and should be collected, as they prove useful in the battles ahead. From here you have the option of moving off the left or right hand side of the screen, where you will come into contact with your first opponent!

Each new location you enter will begin by displaying a caption, briefly describing the scene, such as "Hallway", "Rainbow Room" or "Shijo Entrance". There are 21 locations that scale up over 6 levels. On the ground level you will only face one opponent per screen, but this increases per floor level, until the final room where you will face five opponents, although only two will ever attack at any one time.

There are three different enemies that will hinder your quest for idols - The Thug, who is the easiest opponent, will only lay weak punches into your hero; Karateka is tougher and can both punch and kick with greater strength; finally the Evil Ninja is the most difficult foe to defeat, as he/she has the same moves and weapons as you, at their disposal.

To fight back, your Ninja can punch and kick while standing, kneeling and jumping. All your actions, including the deadly sword move are performed by holding the joystick button down and moving the stick in a particular direction. For example, holding down the fire button and pulling the joystick in the opposite direction to which your Ninja is facing will throw the death star and dagger weapons.

As you progress through the levels you'll come across the glowing idols, which when collected will increase your health to maximum. The highest level 'Akuma's Chamber', can only be reached after six of the seven idols have been collected and once at this final screen you will find the last idol guarded by 5 opponents. However, your mission doesn't end there, as once you are in possession of all seven idols, you'll need to return to 'Torii in the Sea' before the game is over. Upon your escape through the levels, you'll find all the previously defeated enemies have returned, though most can be avoided by simply slipping quickly through the holes in the floor.

Overall Ninja is a great, but flawed game. Due to the randomness of the idol locations, some games can start with three idols in the very first few locations. This may seem like a lucky break, but you'll soon realise the lost benefit of these health replenishing items later in the game. The controls are responsive and the graphical animation is good with funky oriental music that only plays on screens that are free of enemies, allowing you to concentrate on the task at hand.



Main Music

Game Over Music



Throw the spinning death stars and daggers while you are still at a distance from your opponent/s. This way you can deplete their health before moving in for close combat.

The throwing dagger will only damage an opponent if the blade makes contact (only 37.5% of the time) and is totally useless when it strikes handle-side round.

Three spinning death stars will kill any one opponent and although a single star will do only a little damage, they are more reliable than the daggers. When you begin the game, collect all the death stars and leave any remaining daggers. Continually exit and return to the same location until the dagger/s become death stars.

The Evil Ninja is definitely the hardest challenge as he has exactly the same abilities as you do, including the deadly sword attack and the use of throwing daggers and spinning death stars. Be careful when using either of these two weapons at this enemy as they can be turned against you!






Normal Punch

Jump Punch

Low Punch


Body Kick

High Kick

Low Body Kick

Other Versions:

Ninja was also released on a number of other computer formats including graphically superior versions on the Atari ST and Amiga, under the new title Ninja Mission.


The Ninja of Ancient Japan
(A History of the Japanese Ninja)

Ninjai - The Little Ninja
(Excellent Flash cartoon - voted #1 Film of 2003 by Atomfilms)

The Official Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles website
(Information and pictures on the Comics, TV Series, Films, Toys and Games)

The Last Ninja Archives
(The Last Ninja series of computer games, which unfortunately didn't make it to the Atari 8-bit)