Console: NES
Date Released: April, 1990
Date Reviewed: January 23, 2012
Reviewer: Reid
Pros
* One of the early games to have in-depth story and cut-aways
* Interesting types of abilities to learn and execute

Cons

* Terrible music
* One or two sound effects
* Difficulty takes the fun out of playing

I played this game at a friend’s house a few times in the early 90’s, and when NES title discussions come up I always threw this one in as a great game based on my few plays from 20 years ago. I have gone back and played through this ninja side-scrolling beat’em up and here are my thoughts.

Presentation :   C

Graphics / Animation / Sound

Wrath of the Black Manta immediately stuck in my mind as a great game when i was younger because of its awesome story and cut-scenes. For an action side-scroller of the day, the graphics for the most part are pretty clean. You can make out what most things are supposed to be, although holes in the ground that you need to jump up or down through blend in pretty bad.

Not a lot to animate in the game play, but the standard throwing star from the ninja, and bullets from the bad guys look good enough. The jump animation is really cool, as the ninja jumps and bad guy jumps are distinguishable. When interrogating the bad guys, the same face repeats quite often depending on the level. Apparently the rent-a-thug firm outsourcing the fighting regularly employs sets of sextuplets.

The sound is HORRIBLE. It is typically the same song over and over and over. Most of the sound effects are recycled, as jumping, throwing, and killing all make the same noise, so it can get redundant.

Single Player : D

Game mechanics / Length / difficulty

Children are disappearing from New York. The FBI can’t do anything about it, so you, the lone ninja must find them. How 90’s of them. The problem with this, is looking for and finding the children actually has no bearing on game. Most of the time when entering a room to look for captured children, its empty or filled with bad guys. When you do find children they give you “clues”, but the only thing you have to do in the game is keep going left or right and you’ll find what you need. Rescuing children gives no reward or power up. You do have cool ‘Arts’ you can learn, such as ‘Art of the shadow’, ‘Art of the Spider’, and Art of Invisibility’.

You learn new ‘Arts’ after completing levels. They are somewhat helpful and add some variety to the game, but they are difficult to assign to your d-pad, and there isn’t a lot of help on how to do so in the game.

There are five total levels to finish. These levels take place in different cities, and are fairly short to play through. To get through the levels, as I said, you don’t have to do anything but make it to the end. Forget about finding the children, you’ve got some ninja wrath to bestow.

Wrath of the black manta is one of those games you wonder if the guys who made it ever intended for anyone to beat it. The Boss fights alone take multiple lives to finish, and are designed to give no safe place from damage. You will get hit. And true to arcade style, you only get a few continues, then its back to start.

Multiplayer : F

Game mechanics / features / Online features

No multiplayer, such as two player mode.

Replay Value : D

Lasting appeal / Bonus Content / DLC

Wrath of the Black Manta is a game you will only try to play a couple of times before getting frustrated with the difficulty. There is no memorable attributes such as cool music, sound effects, or thugs to fight. The boss fights are kind of cool, but very difficult and frustrating.

As you get further in the game the level design and increase of bad guys just gets lazy, making kids think “if it’s this hard, something bad-ass HAS to be just around the corner”. It’s not.

The best thing about this game is the cool integration of story line and information that is slowly revealed. Sadly this alone cannot save the game, but is worth checking out once or twice to see early forms of how story integrated with game-play.

Overall : D

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