NINJA SPIRIT / Data East / Turbografx 16
Now that this game's out for the Wii, you'll see a lot of talk about it being the "unknown Ninja Gaiden". Not only bleh, but BLEH.
This game is a spiritual follow-up to The Legend of Kage. It comes from the Kage family, which is not a proud family. While it's certainly better than its notorious predecessor, talk of it being in the same league as Ninja Gaiden 2 is frankly highly insulting to Ninja Gaiden 2. I think what got all this nonsense started was the fact that you can acquire a bunch of shadow clones that follow you around a la Ninja Gaiden 2. Well, lifting a feature from another game =/= making a game as good as the original that you stole the feature from.
This is really a very repetitive and rather clunky side scroller with notably stiff graphics and lifeless bosses. You basically run through flat levels that just have differing backgrounds, so there's nothing in the way of actual level design at all. All that varies is the quantity and type of cloned foes that get tossed at you constantly from the edges of the screen. Oh, and the music is hella annoying, exception of that weird little stinger they play at the start of each level (which is really the only significantly cool part of the game).
Those expecting Badass Sidescrolling, perhaps misled by less responsible gaming reporters, will find themselves sadly disappointed and out six dollars that could well have been applied to the real deal (Ninja Gaiden 2) when it is released.