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The title screen
The title screen

Ninja Five-O (known as Ninja Cop in Europe) is an action platformer released on April 15, 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. It was published by Konami and developed by Hudson Soft. The game was met with relatively good reception, although it did not sell well. In fact, IGN was one of the sites that gave the game the most praise, listing it in their GBA Gems feature and in their Top 25 Game Boy Advance Games of All Time list. Ninja Five-O holds an 84% rating on GameRankings.

The game stars Joe Osugi, a "ninja cop," as he traverses several areas and battles the five evil ninja masters. The game features six missions that span over twenty levels.

A screenshot of the grappling hook mechanic in use.
A screenshot of the grappling hook mechanic in use.

Ninja Five-O is a traditional action platformer. The player dispatches enemies in a variety of ways, including ninjutsu magic, the katana, and shurikens. Each stage has an amount of hostages to rescue (held by an enemy that must be killed at the right moment. If the player accidentally kills the hostage, half of the health bar is taken away). There are also many keys for the player to gather in order to travel through the stage. After the end of each mission, the player must face a boss, who is stronger than the normal enemies, and must be defeated in a variety of unique ways (including one boss who holds a hostage during the entire fight).

Several levels of ninjutsu magic are available. The first level (the one that the player starts out with at the beginning of each mission) of ninjutsu magic is merely a shuriken that can be thrown (there is infinite "ammo" for the shuriken, as well as the rest of the ninjutsu magic). The second level of magic is a fireball, which is more powerful and has a larger range than the shurikens. The third and final level of ninjutsu magic is a blast of lightning that is the most powerful ninjutsu magic, and is almost always a one-hit kill.

The game's most unique feature is a Bionic Commando-esque grappling hook system. While there is still the ability to jump, Joe Osugi can also use his kaginawa grappling hook to grab onto certain platforms or walls and then preform acrobatic moves (as well as fighting and using ninjutsu magic while on the grappling hook). This was one of the most innovative features of the game, and much of Ninja Five-O's positive reception can be attributed to this aspect.

Selecting a mission (each of which contains several sublevels)
Selecting a mission (each of which contains several sublevels)

  • Bank
  • Harbor
  • Airport
  • Cave
  • Base
  • Launch Site

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