Hong Kong Ninja
Hong Kong Ninja
With an abundance of flash-based fighting games being churned out on a weekly basis in the world of browser-based gaming, the beat-em-up genre is already saturated with forgettable titles that barely raise an eyebrow, let alone encourage players to actually raise their fingers to click on the games and give them a chance. It feels a little sad to see so much mediocrity from a genre that a decade or more ago was flourishing, particularly on the older consoles such as the Snes and the Sega 16-bit.
That isn't to say that all modern flash-based fighting games are sub-par, however, which brings me to Hong Kong Ninja's impressive, though not strictly unique style of gameplay. The aforementioned glory days of the beat-em-up were host to many titles that today would be considered as being retro and fall under the 'nostalgia' or 'throwback' niche of beat-em-up games. Hong Kong Ninja falls perfectly within this style of game and takes you back on a journey to gaming days of pixels and glory.
Along with the style being reminiscent of classic beat-em-up titles such as Streets of Rage, the game's format is also identical in fashion to this classic game as well. Your aim is to simply wander the streets as you scroll sideways into encounters with a variety of different enemy, each with a different fighting style and appearance as detailed as the next. Some enemies carry weapons that can be collected upon the event of their death, and others simply fight in hand-to-hand combat fashion, which is also your main method of offense. Use the WASD keys to control the movement of your character, the J key to attack/pick up nearby items, the K key to Jump and L to perform your character's skill move.
The number of different moves that can be performed as well as the different weapons that can be collected makes the game considerably more interesting, and the combination of the two is executed so very brilliantly that the game could safely be described as a sort of beat-em-up/shoot-em-up hybrid. Weapons range from pistols, submachineguns and assault rifles through to grendades, iron pipes, swords, and rocket launchers, each with different applications and far superior than anything seen in fellow flash-based ninja game Double Dragon Flash Fighters yet not quiet on par with others such as Street Fighter Flash. Even better is the fact that instead of having to sacrifice your weapon to beat up the enemy, you can use your skill attack (the L key) when in possession of a weapon and still keep hold of it, allowing you to save it for later.
Aside from perhaps a larger roster of characters, the game isn't really missing anything as a retro game, but in terms of modern-day gaming, the whole experience could definitely do with a touch of modernising. I'm not talking about changing the wonderful aesthetic, though, since the 16-bit format and nostalgic chip tune-style music is what gives the game its charm; the game needs some sort of upgrade system or perhaps the ability to level up as in many RPG games (this could be an idea for Hong Kong Ninja 2). With a few modern-day ideas such as levelling up/experience points/upgrades to blend in with the old-school format and visual style, the game would/could be even more fantastic than it is already.
Should you be a fan of retro fighting games, shooting games, or just well-designed games in general, Hong Kong Ninja is a game that simply delivers on every level and shares in the success of similar titles coming out on the Miniclip studio like Dino Strike. From solid physics and physical interactions design, graphics and sound - everything about the game screams quality of the highest order for a browser based game. As one of many high-quality side scrolling fighters in this collection, you'd be silly not to give Hong Kong Ninja the opportunity to impress you.