The Ninja Warriors is a brawler of the Rush'n Attack model - the goal is to walk forward and take care of any enemies that approach from the front and rear. The protagonist, one of two robotic ninja, is fairly durable but not invincible: as they take damage their synthetic flesh falls away to reveal the robot underneath. The goal of the game is to track down the corrupt American President Banglar and assassinate him, thus lifting the oppressive martial law he has declared to keep the population in check.
The Ninja Warriors was originally an Arcade game. It was later ported to many home computers in the West and on the Sega CD and TurboGrafx-16 in Japan only. A heavily revised version developed by Natsume and named simply Ninja Warriors ("The Ninja Warriors Again" in Japan and "Ninja Warriors: The New Generation" in Europe) would later be released for the SNES in 1994.
The arcade version of The Ninja Warriors was developed and published by Taito Corporation in 1987. For the 1986 game, Darius, Taito Corporation had developed a method of creating the effect of a "triple-wide" screen by placing two other screens inside the cabinet and using mirrors create the illusion of three contiguous screens. The Ninja Warriors used the same method to create a large, widescreen display.
The music for the game was produced by Taito's in-house band, Zuntata, and written by Hisayoshi Ogura. Pony Canyon and Scitron released the two soundtracks for the game in 1988 and 1991, while further arrangements were released in 1993 and by Zuntata Records and Taito in 1988 and 2009. The track from the first level, Daddy Mulk, would receive limited acclaim, and was sampled by Australian rock band Lucius Hunt in the track "This Haunting (2006)". An option available in some console versions of the game allowed players to watch a "Prologue" to the game, which featured Zuntata including themselves into plot. The poorly translated English narration claims that the terrorist hero finds his dead friend at the bar with the initials ZTT on his back. The hero finds a nightclub with a neon sign that reads ZTT and watches Zuntata perform. After hearing Zuntata, the terrorist is inspired to create the two ninja robots that kill the President, thus beginning the game.
The Ninja Warriors uses a 8-way Joystick and two buttons which correspond to dagger and ninja star. The game allowed for two player simultaneous play, with the players controlling either a blue male ninja or red female ninja.
Despite the title screen of The Ninja Warriors saying 1987, the arcade cabinet was released in February, 1988. Distribution of the game in the United States was licensed to Romstar.
Taito would supervise ports of the game to the PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16), Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, and Commodore 64, relatively quickly after the release of the arcade version. Because none of the console versions could support the "triple-wide" screen from the arcade game, many of the visuals majorly decreased in quality. Aisystem Tokyo would develop the Mega CD version of the game, which would be released in 1993. Both the PC Engine and Mega CD version would feature plot text over the introduction. The Mega CD version was described by Mega as "very poor by any standards." However, the Mega CD version featured the best graphics, allowed the player to continue where they left off when they died, and additional difficulty settings, all of which is absent from other ports. All of the console versions would be published solely in Japan.
Taito Ninja Warriors Arcade System
- CPU (ref)
- Main CPU: 2× Motorola 68000 @ 8 MHz
- Sound CPU: ZilogZ80 @ 4 MHz
- Sound chips (ref)
- Yamaha YM2610 @ 8 MHz
- Channels: 4 FM channels, 3 SSG channels, 7 ADPCM channels
- ADPCM: 6 channels @ 18.5 kHz (12-bit), 1 channel @ 1.85–55.5 kHz (16-bit)
- Yamaha YM3016F: Stereo audio DAC
- Taito TC006DCA: Custom ceramic DAC/filter module
- Taito TC0140SYT: Custom sound control IC
- GPU chipset (ref)
- 3× Taito TC0070RGB RGB/Video Mixer (1 per screen)
- 3× Taito TC0110PCR Palette Generator (1 per screen)
- 3× Taito TC0100SCN Tilemap Generator (1 per screen)
- Display (ref) (ref)
- Monitors: 3-monitor setup
- Resolution: 864×224 pixels (288×224 per screen)
- Scanlines: 256
- Refresh rate: 60 Hz (60 frames per second)
- Colors displayed: 12,288 overall, 4096 (12-bit) per screen
- Color palette: 98,304 overall, 32,768 (15-bit) per screen
- Sprite plane
- Sprite size: 16×16 pixels
- Colors per sprite: 16 colors (4-bit)
- Sprites on screen: 128 sprites on screen, 16 KB (16,384 Bytes) sprite RAM, 128 Bytes per sprite
- Sprite texels: 26.686 MHz, 26.686 million texels per second (60 frames per second), 444,766 texels per frame (256 scanlines), 1737 texels per scanline
- Sprites per scanline: 108
- Tilemap planes per screen: 3 (9 total)
- Scrolling background layer: 128×64 (8192) tiles, 8×8 pixels per tile
- Scrolling foreground layer: 128×64 (8192) tiles, 8×8 pixels per tile
- Text layer: 128×32 (4096) characters
In the March 1988 issue of British magazine Computer and Video Games, Clare Edgeley gave the original arcade version a positive review. She compared it to Shinobi and Vigilante.