Review by: Michael Rack
Published: January 7, 2004
The cold steel blade, the silver shuriken, the groovy all-encompassing body-suit … who wouldn’t want to be a ninja? With sharp wits and superb physical control, the ninja is perhaps the most impressive and infamous killer the world has ever known. However, ninja aren’t commonly thought of for their humor relief and freaky-big heads, but Argonaut is looking to change that. The company’s release of I-Ninja introduces the grace and skill of a ninja into a platformer atmosphere, with a touch of humor to keep you begging for more.
The story begins with the destruction of a benevolent ninja clan by the pungent Master O-Dor and his army of Ranx soldiers. The massacre leaves only two survivors: an ancient, if not absentminded master known as Sensei, and his overzealous pupil named Ninja. Sensei is captured during a secret resistance mission, but Ninja comes to his rescue. In a blaze of action, he manages to overcome the captors, smash Sensei’s bonds, and slay a dragon.
The dead dragon coughs up a mysterious, glowing red jewel, captivating the young Ninja. His master attempts to warn him, but is too late. Ninja grabs the stone, and is overcome with power, erupting in a blinding rage. Ninja soars through the air frantically swinging his katana, and accidentally decapitates his beloved leader. In true Obi-Wan fashion, this doesn’t stop Sensei for long, as he rises from his corpse in ethereal form to continue Ninja’s training.
Sensei reveals that the gem was a sacred Rage Stone – a source of great, but somewhat uncontrollable power. In order to overcome O-Dor’s forces, Sensei sends Ninja off to retrieve all the Rage Stones. It won’t be an easy task though, as each one is guarded by a powerful champion, across five distinct lands. From the shores of Robot Beach to the hidden moon base, Ninja must make his way to the heinous O-Dor and bring his tyranny to an end.
The great master may get his proverbs mixed up, but he does know that Ninja is not ready for everything O-Dor can dish out. To keep Ninja from biting off more than he can chew, some missions are unavailable until a belt is attained by completing a set number of levels. You can also spend coins you find lying around on special tests to help boost your rank. A strong warrior must have a suitable sword to match his belt, so your sword will get upgraded as you defeat more of the Ranx forces.