Super Ninja Boy is an action role-playing game developed by Culture Brain and released on the SNES in 1991 in Japan, and in 1993 in North America.
It’s a sequel to Culture Brain‘s previous title, Little Ninja Brothers for the NES, and it’s not a brilliant game the truth be told, but it does hold a special place in my heart because it was one of the first games I ever reviewed as games journalist.
In essence Super Ninja Boy is like a Final Fantasy RPG with Double Dragon-style scrolling beat ’em up sections instead of turn-based combat. Well, actually there is turn-based combat in this too – the boss battles seem to use that system. There are also platforming sections. Which makes Super Ninja Boy a bit of a mashup of styles overall.
The game can be played single-player or cooperative two-player. Player one controls Jack, and player two controls Ryu – two budding ninja who explore, take on quests, and get into a ton of random encounters.
If you compare it something like Legend of the Mystical Ninja it pales into insignificance. I think my main problem with Super Ninja Boy is that the controls and movement are not that smooth – they feel jerky for some strange reason – and it makes the game feel a little sluggish, which is a pity.
Super Ninja Boy also has a few annoying features, like not being able to walk behind buildings, or having to be lined-up perfectly to enter a door. The random encounter rate is also ridiculously high. You sometimes get four or five in quick succession and it’s tiring when all you’re trying to do is travel a short distance between towns.
That said: Super Ninja Boy is not a bad game. It’s actually weirdly compelling. The fighting sections are pretty poor, but the various opponents do require some thought and skill to beat, which makes it challenging. Well… kind of challenging; Super Ninja Boy is an easy game to play really. I’d have no hesitation recommending it to kids; there’s nothing offensive in it, and younger games-players might not notice that it’s a little half-baked.
Super Ninja Boy is still fun to play though, and for that it should be remembered.