Ninja Kid is a game that gets away with coming out after a streak of medicore games. Looking back, I think I was just hungry to play something fun and more like Mario. I can't possibly recommend this game for the essential games list because of the incredibly repetitive nature of each world. It's a long game, but only because of it's artificial inflation. There's nothing in this game you can't experience in the first two worlds. Couple that with the one-hit KO and you can get frustrated easily. Neat idea, great way to meet the Mario market demands, but overall too poor of an execution to feel good about it.
I am a sucker for games that feel like an adventure, tell a story, and that upon completion give you the feeling that you just finished a satisfying journey. At first, it seemed like Ninja Kid was going to give me an experience like that. It had character, with an overworld map, and various level types and objectives. While I did enjoy playing it, it never really got much deeper than playing the same few levels over and over again. The different objectives, some of which were kind of cool, became stale after a while, especially since the levels never felt too unique or memorable. After playing enough of these levels a few times, I didn’t feel much incentive to keep playing. The overworld map turned out to be just a fancy way to select a level. There was no feeling of exploration. Like I said: I enjoyed it... but it didn't live up to what I hoped it was. In the end I'd give it a "play it" at best
You look upon the pond with giddy anticipation. For now, the water is still, but with the rope in your hand, you're about to swing in and cause the biggest splash you're friends have ever seen. With a running start, you take off! The air rushes by, and once you reach the top of your swing, you let go and grab your knees to form a cannonball.
My god, this isn't a pond, it's barely even a puddle! Dear god, it hurts so bad. You cry out in pain, since you've just broken your tailbone on the rocky earth just below the water. Your friends laugh at you and call you names.
Ahem... anyway, the above is how I felt playing Ninja Kid. It bears many of the markings of a vast adventure game, what with the overworld map and key items and whatnot. This is an illusion. There isn't much depth to this game. Each location on the overworld brings you to a brief, endlessly repeating "dungeon" with one simple task. Kill ten monsters, eat ten pillowy souls, light ten candles, repeat, repeat, repeat ad nauseam.
At the more micro level, the titular Ninja Kid controls pretty well; there's a smoothness there that shows you that this game may have taken some cues from Super Mario, but the positives pretty much end there. Its deception shall not be forgiven.