Hi-Ya! Ninja-themed games have been a mainstay of console-based gaming since the early days of the Atari 2600 and the beloved NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). Classics such as Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi, The Last Ninja, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are fondly remembered for their bizarre storylines, hilarious sound effects, and frenetic gameplay.
With House of Dead Ninjas, the latest addition to Adult Swim's sensational collection of free web games, British developer MegaDev brings us a throwback to those days of twitchy reflexes and relentless button mashing.
In the game, the player controls a one-armed ninja who has entered a deadly tower from the ceiling and who must reach the bottom at all costs. But the ninja's downward journey is fraught with peril, as he faces endless waves of dangerous obstacles and blood-thirsty enemies whose sole aim is to prevent the ninja from escaping the tower.
Things become very difficult for our ninja hero from the go, as his life is controlled by a pesky 30 second timer that can only be reset by collecting a special bonus item that is found at different levels in the tower. The only other way of resetting the timer is by dying, something that players of House of Dead Ninjas will become very proficient at, over and over. Other bonus items also allow the ninja to gather more bombs, shuriken, extra lives, and additional points.
The gameplay in House of Dead Ninjas is pure adrenaline-pumping action. Players not only have to fight against the clock to stay alive, but they must also deal with 18 different enemies (including one that resembles the late Chris Farley in the film Beverly Hills Ninja) that seem to multiply themselves as the hero gets closer to the ground floor.
And as if the attacking hordes weren't difficult enough, the ninja also has to deal with traps and obstacles. There isn't a single strategy to the game that is guaranteed to work; instead, players must develop their ninja skills by trial and error by playing again and again.
House of Dead Ninjas truly shines in its appealing design. Everything in the game has been influenced by the great NES games of yesteryear, from the opening "cinematic" sequence to the MIDI-like music; and from the level design to the pleasing sound effects. Even the hilarious and clever online manual is written and illustrated in the style of the instruction booklets that came with NES game cartridges.
The game controls are limited to the keyboard, sorry mouse obsessives, but you can customise what keys to uses if the standard setup is not to your liking. The default configuration makes use of the cursor keys for movement, jumping, crouching, and even scaling the walls.
The ninja's weaponry consists of a fighting sword, shuriken (throwing stars), and bombs. These weapons are controlled by the z, x, and c keys, respectively. Special moves such as the useful downward thrust attack are explained in the game's online manual. Don't wait any longer, play House of Dead Ninjas here.