NINJA GAIDEN / Tecmo / Sega Master System
Suck it, Golgo 13
Ninja Gaiden for the Sega Master System is like a fanboy version of NES Ninja Gaiden made by kids who were big fans of the game but just didn't have quite the epic chops that the Tecmo team did. Now, granted, the game actually is made by Tecmo, but I'm pretty sure they farmed out one of their "B" squads to do this one, as in 1988 I'd assume the main Ninja Gaiden team had their hands full with Ninja Gaiden 2.
The whole game is like, if you squint really, really hard you might mistake it for an NES version, but everything about it is just a little off. It starts with the cinematics. First of all, the story is completely silly. Now, granted the NES games had fairly silly stories too, but they made up for it with badass ambiance, music and cinematography. Here you just get some poorly-drawn static picture with a bunch of Engrishy text scrolling beneath it, like some bizarre ninja coloring book or something. And rather than genuinely menacing demon enemies from the netherworld, you get like fat sumo wrestlers and incompetent Yakuza as enemies. The music sounds like a poor man's rendition of the style of the NES games, and the backgrounds are rather chipper and colorful and really aren't that far off from being an Alex Kidd game or something.
The gameplay even feels *a bit* like the NES version, but it's just a bit off too. It's really almost like a combination between Revenge of Shinobi and NES Ninja Gaiden. The level design is more thoughtless than either, though, with a lot of inescapable cheap hits and sections designed to apparently just waste your time. Ryu still picks up sub-weapons in the NES style but the arsenal is different here. The basic tiny shuriken is still your default, but you can now pick up a homing fire shuriken, gigantic shuriken and a shuriken that shoots in all the cardinal directions simultaneously. Ryu's athletic abilities have changed a bit as well - he can raise his arms while jumping (by holding up) to catch tree branches and other such items, sort of in the style of Ninja Gaiden 3, and though he can't wall-climb he has a triangle jump similar to that of Strider.
It's far from terrible, but it's far from the NES versions either - even Ninja Gaiden 3 is significantly better than this game.
* Gameplay Video