The last Power Rangers title I had a chance to look at was a lot different than this one. Ninja Storm is more of a traditional side scrolling arcade game. The first few minutes I spent with the title gave me fond memories of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the old NES system. Because Power Rangers Ninja Storm is on the Game Boy Advance, this title isn't that much more sophisticated.
Ninja Storm begins by letting you choose one of the colored rangers.
Rangers haven't changed much since a decade ago when I first saw them on television. And to give you a hint as to how old I was, I wasn't even in high school then. At any rate, you can't go wrong with the tried and true red ranger. Or maybe the green ranger. The choices are merely cosmetic as one isn't necessarily more powerful than the other. It'll make your robot droids look different during the boss battles but that's about it.
To say that Ninja Storm is simplistic is not being fair to the title. It tries to introduce some tricks to the game. Enemies will come from above, behind and in front of you. Some enemies are recessed into the background (meaning they're far away) and shoot projectiles at you. Ninja Storm has a lower learning curve, probably to acclimate the many children who are fans of the franchise. In the beginning, I was fighting enemies coming from the right. Then they started coming from the left. Then I came up against a wall that needed to be broken by throwing enemies on them. Then I came across a jumping puzzle. Then it ramps up to a jumping puzzle with tentacles sticking out. Then it ramps up even more with random fire shooting from the bottom. The development is quite logical but the challenges don't ever approach the ferocity of the old classic fighter games.
What's not logical is why the enemies persisted coming in droves for me to impale them against chain-linked fences or stacks of barrels. They could've easily trapped me there by not appearing. Often, when the lowest grade units come to ambush you from behind, they don't do anything. Literally, they won't. In fact, I left one of them alive as an experiment and while I impaled about eight better quality foes, that one guy decided to just stand there for a good minute. He didn't even try moving from his position for the first minute. With that kind of work ethic and attitude, it's no wonder the baddies have yet to dethrone the Power Rangers from television.
Each stage is finished off with a traditional boss fight. You'll have to first beat them in ranger form. After you best the creature as humans, you'll then have to assemble into a robot and beat the boss that way. That actually brings me to another point. Why don't the heroes just assemble as the robot and step on the humanoid boss before they even make a move? Oh I guess I'm asking too many questions by this time.
Rather than let you directly control the robots, you have to press button and direction combinations that flash on the screen. So if it flashes “A” and the up arrow, you'll have to press them in a timely manner. This will let you initiate attacks. Otherwise, the boss will attack you. This goes on until you eliminate the boss who finally perishes and ceases to bother you and the other rangers.
Ninja Storm is a fairly lenient game. With many power-ups strewn around and generally weak enemies, people shouldn't have too much trouble in getting through the entire corpus. This, again, leads me to think this is a product aimed towards children.
The visuals in Ninja Storm are decent but obviously not top notch artwork. They utilize repetitive urban landscapes but at least there's a good use of color. On top of the gray streets and backgrounds, they make the graphics stand out.
No doubt, everything works in Ninja Storm. I just find it too limited with only two buttons for attack, one for blocking and one for jumping. There aren't any significant combos to learn in the game. And the least the developers could do is spice it up by presenting different characters. Or better yet, create different mission paths depending on which ranger you choose. I know beat-em-up games can do better than this. I've played the Golden Axes and most recently, Electronic Arts' Return of the King. There's still life in this type of play if you're able to present great production values and some innovative features. Ninja Storm doesn't have any of this and that's why it will be written off as a niche product.
Being much older now and out of touch with all the cartoons and child fads, I have to wonder if there are enough Power Ranger fans out there who will snap on this. The last I checked, Harry Potter and Pokemon were a bit more in demand.