Top 100 SNES Review: #48 – Legend of the Mystical Ninja (1991)

Another Entry of Japanese Quirk.

The game is not good — no amount of Miso Soup changes that. Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.05.56 PM

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #48/100
My Rating: cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550cropped-smooth-star-e1545862962550

“BUT IT’S SO JAPANESE,” says the internet.  “BUT IT ISN’T THAT FUN TO PLAY,” says me.

From deep within the south of the USA, it wasn’t until the 2000s when we really started having a diversity of culture, and by diversity of culture, I mean more restaurants. It must have been within this world before globalization that people were yearning for any type of cultural integration.

Enter Legend of the Mystical Ninja. A side-scrolling game that uses the imagery, humor, and style of Japan to try and buoy everything else. Unfortunately, that everything else is kind of important: the game is kind of boring.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.06.17 PM
Motif One: Anime-like character with eccentric garment choice.


Each area gives you some nonsensical purpose to go on to the next one. It might be the advice from a ghost woman ninja cat, or perhaps it’s defeating the evil dancers of a wicked amusement park. These are the types of games that make nihilism seem look a solid world-view.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.28.21 PM
Motif Two: Items that no westerner can identify.


This game is divided into two parts: an open environment and more traditional side-scroller. They both are awful in their own right.

The open environment, where you can go up, down, and side-to-side, is rife with hit box problems. Trying to line up to strike your opponent can be super faulty and not a joy to experience. Unfortunately, there is no sense of direction in these moments, so you better get use to every single townsperson trying to kill you as you meander around trying to find wherever you need to go.

This is where there should be a sense of exploration, but most of the buildings are just dead end adventures to get food. There are some mini-games lurking, but it doesn’t feed into the real game: there is no sense that winning these will help you win in the actual game, so they are just disjointed time wasters.

After you fumble around and find the next non-sequitur purpose for your journey, you then enter the Super Mario clone of a side-scroller. Guess what: it’s like every other side-scroller you have every played. Eventually this leads to a boss fight where it goes for utmost ridiculousness. You then repeat this on every stage.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 11.06.30 PM
Motif 3: the bizarre boss.


These Japanese-themed games never do it for me.

Other People’s Takes:

  • Jumping on Turtles: “The reason that Sticky Ninja failed to reach the expected heights is a fairly simple one: it’s extremely dated.”
  • Rose Tinted Reset: “Run, jump, attack, and discover– and by discover I mean, you’d better figure out what’s going on because it doesn’t tell you and I don’t know.”
  • Gun Sage’s Blog: “It plays like so many games at once you almost wonder how it even works and yet it truly…just works.”


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