I was reading the NES section of Brett Weiss’ Classic Home Video Games and discovered there was an NES port of the Atari arcade game Skull and Crossbones. That was the first time I had thought of that game in years. Atari put Skull and Crossbones into the arcades of America in 1989. I never played it, but I did see it at our local Aladdin’s Castle on one occasion. The kid playing it had made it to the ninja camp level, and two guys watching behind him said there was no way a pirate could beat a ninja. I know nothing of the game beyond that, and I don’t know if a pirate could beat a ninja or not (we’ll leave that up to Flack, our resident ninja expert). I greatly suspect, though, that the game would have been a major hit if it came out after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I guess The Goonies’ One-Eyed Willie just wasn’t a big enough wave for the game to surf on.
In my neighborhood growing up, there was a group of friends (separate from mine), who would dress up like ninjas and roam the town. I am not sure why or what they did. (Solve Crimes?) I was also unsure as to where they got their great gear. I has always assumed flea markets or the Ninja Supply Store, but thanks to Paxton Holley and his wonderful scans, I now know that they probably went all mail-order on their get ups.
Note: If your gonna get a pair of tabis, make sure you do not go economy. It is embarrassing to the entire clan.
Ninjas. Just say it with me. Ninjas. The world sizzles the air like fresh bacon in a hot pan. . .that mysteriously appeared out of now where, thanks to a delivery from the breakfast ninja. As a child of the 1980’s, I was a huge ninja fan, be they of they of the mutated teenage turtle variety or not. These mythical assassins spawned a ton of play time for my friends and I. I had plastic ninja swords, plastic (and later real) ninja stars, ninja action figures (Stormshadow forever!), I even went as a Ninja for Halloween twice. Of course, we had Ninja video games. There are a billion Ninja video games out there and since I went through over 7,000 covers for the last cart article, I decided to go with games I remember playing in my childhood. So put on your best all black clothing, because we are lurking in the shadows for this one.
Yeah, starting on a downer. Is it ever good when the front of the game box has a screen shot of the game on it? Let’s call a spade a spade. Are you ever going to be afraid of our purple clad ninja boy coming for you out of the shadows? No, no you are not. Look at his hat. I know it is supposed to look like a head wrap but it has more of a Shriner’s fez to me. The sword on is back is at least 33% longer then the Kid Ninja is tall. Now, I find it hard to tell if the ninja is hurling the ninja star or is the ninja star shooting a lightning bolt at the ninja? In end, I only have one request to all those video game character designers out there: If you are going to unmask a ninja, do not give him rosy cheeks. . . please.
Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow
Donald Duck is going to . . .kick. . . your . . butt. Not only is Donald going to take your down, he is going to do it blind folded, that how strong his Ninjitsu is on this cover. Look at the intensity of that water foul’s face, there is only pain and suffering for Donald’s enemies. I know I am stretching this cove out since there is not a whole lot going on but I feel that everyone needs to view this cart art. If for no other reason then to have dreaded nightmares of fierce Donald beating your rear with that staff.
Kid Nikki Radical Ninja
How radical is this cover? So radical that nothing on this cover looksremotely like a ninja! Where to begin? Our hero here, Kid Nikki has been hitting the gym, oiling up for combat with a tight sleeveless yellow t-shirt and sporting a sweet mullet with a rat tail. He looks more like secondary character in a Conan movie than a master of the shadow arts. The sword? Right out of barbarian comic books. Does the captured woman (who looks like one of Jemm and the Holograms) have the same hair as the hero? In the background of the photos we have some sort of giant punk rock ork, an jacked executioner wielding a ball and chain and a very depressed looking centipede monster. All three of those on the same cover. . .is. . .fantastic! You know how this cover was made in the 1980’s? Pink! A whole lot of pink. Is the text for Kid Niki up top from a ransom note? Why are there a random smattering of shapes near the top? So many questions, so little time.
A perfect cover! This cover is EXACTLY what this game is about, a ninja playing golf. The little touches are what makes this cover fantastic. The golf tees and golf ball on the ninja’s chest, the nunchuk hanging out of the bag, the ninja even has a golf umbrella in his bag! How awesomely prepared is that! I enjoy thinking about the guy posing for the cover dressing like this and trying keep a straight face. Maybe that’s why he is wearing the full and proper protective ninja head gear. I may need to dress as a ninja again for Halloween again, but this time bring along the old golf bag.
Shadow of the Ninja
Alright, got a pretty sweet cover here. Female ninja in flowing robes, male ninja with a cyber arm (head kinda looks like Ryu from Street Fighter), flying mega fortress in the sky, factory and seaport in the background, mountain strong hold to the right, all sorts of great things. Wait. . . what is that on the bottom right hand side? What the heck is that? Some sort of heavy metal sea horse? Why is that there? Everything about this cover is great, exactly what you want from a Ninja’s in the future game but what is the point of the metallic Hippocampus? Un-Ninja, very, very un-ninja.
Until next time, keep you Ninja-to sharp, you blow gun darts poisoned and always be hiding in the shadows. . . or at least grow yourself on totally awesome rat tail.