Last summer I spent a month traveling in Japan and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve always been interested in Japanese culture and not surprisingly their video games. During my time there I found a plethora of retro game shops in every city I visited, so naturally I stopped in to make some purchases. And with each store I entered, I was in heaven. Walls and walls of retro games, all sorts of figures, posters and even more games! There were many games familiar to me but also a ton I’ve never heard of as they had never been translated and released in America. But why would I want to buy games where I couldn’t read what was going on in them? Well lucky for me (and all gamers) there are plenty where you need no understanding of Japanese to get started. I thought it would be cool to share with you some of my favorite games from Japan that you can import for your retro systems. So let’s talk about a game for the Super Famicom (Nintendo) called Super Ninja Kun! But before we get to in-depth about the game, if importing SNES games is something you’d like to do, it’s incredibly easy to modify your Super Nintendo to play Japanese games.
JUST CLIP THAT SUCKER
The Super Nintendo can read the Japanese games no problem, but the shape of the physical cartridge is different, so in order to play a Japanese cartridge you must open up the SNES cartridge door and clip out these 2 little pieces of plastic that get in the way. It’s super simple to do and then you’ll be ready to play your Japanese imports no problem!
Now back to one of my favorite Super Famicom games, Super Ninja Kun!
Super Ninja Kun is a side scrolling action platformer. You play as this little red suited ninja who must save the princess from an evil skeleton wizard. See, no Japanese necessary to understand whats going on! Our little ninja friend can run by double tapping the left or right button, roll by pressing down when running, can jump, wall climb, throw shurikens, and utilize a variety of different power ups which you get after defeating a boss. The ninja controls are precise so you never have a problem doing exactly what you want, you actually feel like a ninja! You won’t actually become one, but this is a good start. There are 8 levels total and the goal is to get to the end of the level by jumping around and killing an army of ultra cutesy bad guys. Some of my favorites are the little ninjas with pointy shades, the ghost samurais, and my favorite which can only be called a sentient chicken nugget man. Super Ninja Kun looks sharp and while some people may not like the chibi art style, I find it adds a lot of charm.
TELL ME THATS NOT A CHICKEN NUGGET MAN
After cutting down these kawaii enemies their soul will drift up towards heaven but before they can leave for the great beyond you can snatch them up to use as fuel for your power ups. Thats pretty twisted if you ask me and now your enemies will never know peace. At the end of each level is a boss battle and these are typically the most difficult portions of the game. You fight some cool looking villains and if you manage to beat them not only will you get a new ability, but you’ll see them downgraded to an adorable version of themselves, adding insult to injury. The power ups include bombs, lightning bolts, a shadow clone and becoming a giant glowing version of your ninja self. Each are fun to use and make dispatching enemies a breeze. The game is simple to get the hang of, but what makes it so enjoyable is that the levels have a nice assortment of moving vertically, horizontally, mine cart levels, boss fights, and even a space shooter style level where you fly on the back of a dragon.
Diversity is the games big strength which is something you get with its look, weapons, enemies, and level designs, but sadly not with its sounds. The glaring negative of Super Ninja Kun is it’s sound track. It is unbelievably repetitive because there is only 1 song playing the entire time for every level. And it’s not very good to begin with. So I’d recommend popping on some other tunes and muting this one. Yeah the boss fights have one other song but it only lasts a minute.
For every red guy in a video game, you need a blue guy to go along with it. Super Ninja Kun offers some couch co-op goodness which will foster respectful communication between you and your ally. Just kidding, you’ll be screaming obscenities at your friend because he’s eating all the souls and leaving you with no power ups. But that’s what true friendship is all about, the ability to not kill each other while working together to accomplish your goals. Maybe… Probably not. I think I need to reassess my friendships. If you’re looking for an entertaining platformer for the SNES that you can play with a buddy, then grab a copy of Super Ninja Kun. I found my copy for about 20 US dollars and it’s one of my favorite games form Japan!