Written: 4.4.14 Acquired: 4.8.06 Status: Cart only Price: $4.90
Pub: Sony Imagesoft
Ah, 3 Ninjas Kick Back. The game has its place in Super Nintendo lore. The box and manual command a small fortune. Diehard collectors of the SNES clamor to claim their own copy, placing insane bids whenever it shows up. The game itself is rarely talked about, and whenever it is, people usually destroy it. Released with no fanfare, 3 Ninjas Kick Back came and went. But for once, I'd like to take a moment to highlight the game itself Results may be a little shocking. "LET'S MURDERLIZE THEM!"
3 NINJAS KICK BACK BOX AND MANUAL... SERIOUS BIZ-SNES
Y'kno, just the other day I received the second issue of the hot new retro-based print magazine, RETRO. In it mister Chris Kohler highlighted the ridiculous rising prices of the SNES market. If you didn't know, the box and manual for 3 Ninjas Kick Back go for more than a pretty penny. The cart itself is common enough and doesn't go for much beyond $20, but for whatever reason the box and manual are extremely rare. And whenever it does pop up for sell, they run an arm and leg (or two). Hell, a complete copy recently sold for $2,000! Yes, 2K. TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. With diehard SNES collectors growing by the weeks, these rare items continue to skyrocket in price. It makes me glad to have gotten back into the scene when I did (January 17, 2006)... because the demand for these original relics from our youth is at an all-time high like never before. 3 Ninjas Kick Back is a highly rare collectible that's become a Holy Grail of sorts among insatiable SNES collectors
WOW, $2,000! WHAT THE FREAK... yeah, believe it. MADNESS!
When I got back into the SNES scene in January 2006, I didn't really care about owning the boxes and manuals. Other than the RPG manuals, I was OK with just the cartridge. Once I bought the majority of the games I wanted, I bought a few boxes and manuals where I could... since they were so cheap. As I sat back and saw my collection expanding, the urge to see a shelf full of complete SNES games grew and grew. In 2007 I began seriously hunting the boxes and manuals to complete my cartridges. One by one, I crossed them off my list. But in the end, there was one left standing: 3 Ninjas Kick Back. In the 5 years I'd been searching, I only saw it online for sell maybe 3 or 4 times. Each one sold for a fair amount. It wasn't long before I realized how rare the box and manual are, and everytime it came on eBay, there was a fierce intense bidding war for it. I was lucky to buy the manual in late 2011 before acquiring the box March 2012, just 2 years ago
To fund the nutty amount it took to buy the box, I parted with some highly sought after SNES items. For example, I sold off Incantation with manual and a so-so condition box for $200 (it's another one that SNES collectors will pay a pretty penny for). I sold some doubles as well to finally amass enough to cover the charge. Nothing feels more sweet than not having to pay out of your own pocket so to speak!
Incantation is one of the many rising-in-value SNES collectibles
It was a glorious day when the box arrived, just a little over two years ago now. It's a beautiful little box, with some nice shots. I was glad to finally be out of the 3 Ninjas Kick Back hunt after 5 long years of scavenging. Only a few appear each year, if that, and whenever it does, the competition is insane. It was the last box I needed to buy, and after 5 lengthy years of piecing together a complete Super Nintendo collection, I was officially done collecting. It's good to be retired, indeed ^_^ Now I just, pardon the pun, kick back and enjoy what I have got
3 NINJAS... AN INSTANT CHILDHOOD CULT CLASSIC
Movies like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Home Alone were smash successes in 1990. Someone had the brilliant idea of crossing the two, and thus, in the summer of 1992, 3 Ninjas was born. My brother and I loved it. We rented and watched it dozens of times. Take 3 young brothers, throw in Victor Wong as the ass kicking Grandpa Mori and some dim-witted hooligans, and the result is a childhood cult classic
For every kid growing up in early 1990s, this was sick
Rocky, Colt and Tum Tum rocking out with Grandfather Mori
If you mixed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Home Alone, you would get something very similar to 3 Ninjas. It was so successful that it spawned three sequels: 1994's 3 Ninjas Kick Back, 1995's 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up, and 1998's 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (starring Hulk Hogan who at the time was leading the nWo... Ninja World Order). I've only seen the first two. The first is the best. The second was OK, but clearly the magic was gone
THE STORY GOES...
Grandpa Mori, you're one to talk. You have been eating good too
With a stirring plot matched by only Citizen Kane, it's ninja time!
Gotta love Victor Wong: the eccentric Asian with the droopy eye
Grandpa Mori is definitely an OG. Don't mess with Texas, or Mori
But what about the gameplay itself? It's time to shine a light on it
Tum Tum might very well be the smallest SNES protagonist ever
Each ninja has their own special move, but of course, it comes at the expense of some health. While platforming is the core backbone, there are moments where it also feels like a pseudo-beat 'em up! This enticing tag team combination gives 3NKB its charm
The manual covers the mechanics very well. Nice looking manual
I love the rising sun intros. The rays throb as catchy music plays
You start out on a small ledge which is magically suspended in mid-air. A giant boulder rests behind you. As soon as you start moving to the right, it falls and gives chase
This easily frustrated players and the game doesn't start out well..
As you try to escape the rolling ROCK OF DOOM, stalactites fall on cue. You have two options here. Eat each of the three falling attacks, or stop and wait for the stalactite to drop harmlessly while the rock rolls over you. Thankfully, the rock will only eat up 4 of your 6 health boxes. Or you can race through the 3 stalactites and eat 3 hits of damage before leaping to safety. Either way, you can't avoid getting hit right away. I can see why this left a bad taste in people's mouth right off the bat -_-
But it does get notably better... IF you stick with it. It really does...
By grabbing onto a rope, vine, or tree branch, you can propel yourself to new heights. It does take a bit of working out to get the hang of things, but once you do you'll be leaping around like a monkey
What good would a platformer be without some swingin' action?
Very nice indeed. They even cause items that are not visible high above to fall down for the taking. The screen also goes red as a bursting sound effect rips across the land. Cool
Only Tum Tum is small enough to be able to duck the shurikens!
I usually don't really care for collecting objects in platformers. I simply do it because it helps me. But here, I actually will go out of my way to hunt all of them down, just because when you collect one, you get to hear a very groovy sound effect. Plus it's fun to see the mini stars and point bonuses popping up
And just like the game itself, dag-nab-it, it began to grow on me..
Incredible likeness! Love his little white goatee, and DAT paunch
It may just be the shortest stage in platform video gaming history
You're sliding down this mega hill -- ouch, talk about a butt burn
Speaking of butt burns, man, who put that evil campfire there?!
Um, yeah, let us move on, then. It lasts for all of like... 10 seconds
The training dummies are from the actual movie. It's quite faithful
Love this level. Unlike the first two, this one is lengthy and meaty
Ah how nice. Only this one is at the beginning of the level. D'oh!
Remember when video games had health boxes? 3NKB does. There is also a timer, adding a sense of urgency, so it elicits a bit of an old school 8-bit NES platforming feel to it, which is OK by me. I don't need every SNES game to be epic. I like games that are fun regardless of scope and damnit, this one is
Take care of Grandpa Mori's shrivel up old ass! [DAT visual -Ed.]
Search and destroy. You have to bust up all 8 training dummies before the timer expires. They are scattered all over this forest. Search high, search low. Some are tucked away in alcoves. Others are heavily guarded with obstacles and dangers littered right before 'em. Look before you leap, and leap with faith: the Ninja balance and way of success. Once a dummy is found, busting them up takes several good hits. Then, they go flying in every which direction -- a rather satisfying visual. I prefer swinging overhead to take them out
It does. You can leap high enough on your own, but when combined with your environment, you'll soar
That caramel green apple gummy piece restores two health boxes
Grabbing onto a rope can be a lil tricky. You have to press up while jumping. If you miss, you can always aim for the tree branch as a port for safety, then fall back down and try again
Gotta love the atmospheric swirling mist that permeates this forest
Gray bombs drop right where you stand. Black ones can be flung
This levels takes you up, down, all around. It's non-linear. Sweet
Mori and rival ninjas will on occasion fire a series of shurikens your way from high above. Thankfully, you can block all of them with a well-timed overhead attack, which in this case, doubles as a defensive tool. I just love how the shurikens bounce off your weapon harmlessly. Nice!
"You've heard of ingenuity right. Well, I call this... NINJA-NUITY!"
Don't look scared now, Rocky. This dummy thought he was clever hiding out in this here alcove, but even his most vile, deceptive and cunning strategy could not evade your deft ninja senses. Time to do the honors. Give the piñata a couple stiff whacks and onto the next one
It evokes fond memories of childhood birthday piñata parties
As the dummies begin to dwindle down and Mori realizes your true ninja potential, he begins to try a different strategy... good old fashioned... bargaining
"You taught me... a TRUE ninja never accepts a bribe. HI-YAAA!"
Bridges, ledges, alcoves. Every square inch here is teeming with danger. The evil wooden blocks spits out sharp needles, and blood-thirsty bats are on the prowl. Thankfully you are just skilled enough to attack while hanging from a ledge. Once you do that, flip up and kill that block
That's a big piece of wood in-between Rocky's legs [Oh dear -Ed.]
I love these nimble ninjas. They can hang on, flip up, or flip down. Different options means more gameplay variety. Being able to do a number of things from this position presents you with some choices and really puts you in control of your ninja
To boot the control is fairly responsive. GO NINJA GO NINJA GO!
Level 1 Zone 3 is where the game begins to pick up some steam. I suspect those who hate on this game quit after two very short and rather perplexing levels in which they leave thinking "That was crap!"
3 Ninjas Kick Back is often a misjudged and miscasted game IMO
Faithful to the movie, those 3 bumbling idiots are back at it again
Can Glam and his boys, Slam and Vinnie, bring the knife home?
"Steal it BACK? But you never had it." "SHADDUP YOU FOOL!"
Before entering Mori's cabin you must survive this ultimate test...
Collect the bombs on the bottom but hurry. That rock is on a roll!
Along the way, new threats come into play. Duck if yer Tum Tum
You're hanging precariously onto the ledge as a black ninja, with an even darker heart, launches shurikens your way with great malice. But, being the nimble ninja you are, you evade the attack by flipping over and SNAPPING HIS NECK IN TWO, all in one fell swoop. Bet you didn't think these boys could be so vicious, did ya? Rather gratifying, I must say!
3NKB rocks [Sigh. No, it HAS rocks. #LostinTranslationFail -Ed.]
Leaping a great distance is a ninja's perk. Beware that tough guy
The troll-looking nurse is also a real product of the actual movie!
[Now THAT'S what I call the "BLIND LEADING THE BLIND..." -Ed.]
One of my favorite levels, this too is pulled right out of the movie
Really?! Another Mori Marker to start out the stage. You can't help but laugh a little bit. Hit those question mark blocks for you never quite know what special powers you'll find
Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you might get...
Throughout the cabin, you'll run into Koga's nephew, Glam, and his two bumbling lackeys, Slam and Vinnie. This is the first stage in the game that actually allows you to interact with the environment. You can, for instance, kick a basketball at the fumbling Grungers. One hit and he'll be down for the count. The amount of different ways you can dispose of them is damn nifty... and humorous
Ever get hit in the nuts by a close basketball pass? Yeah
Here you have 3 options:
1. Hack him to death. Er, at least, hack him until he sees little birdies flying around...
2. Shatter his shin with that rolling toy truck of doom!
3. Cranium crushing chandelier!
Either way, it suits the game's goofy slapstick atmosphere well
It really does a good job at mimicking the spirit of the film
The hi-jinx and shenanigans carry on here: You can either lure in one of the goons and let him slip on the water, or for the truly sadistic... you can jump kick the toaster into the pool of water. You can imagine what happens next when one of the bumbling buffoons stumble right into your trap! ZAP!
Electrocution by way of toaster in water? BRILLIANT!
3 Ninjas Kick Back has a solid bit of black humor, particularly in this stage and the one following. I ask you, truly, how bad can a game really be when you can zap the hell out of someone by knocking a kitchen appliance in a pool of water? A true guilty pleasure
Colt shows some compassion here, though, and holds onto Slam
In some ways that looks like the ULTIMATE SLEEPOVER PARTY
Michael Jackson would agree [Don't F with the King of Pop -Ed.]
Glam's back. He just doesn't know when to quit. But you have bigger things on your plate, such as finding the last 3 items. It's time to make your way to the rooftop where things get a wee bit more hairy...
3NKB balances hunt-and-seek levels with get-to-the-exit ones well
These black ninjas rule the rooftop, and make life a fair bit more difficult than Glam, Slam and Vinnie ever could. Watch out for the sandwich attacks. When they toss their deadly shurikens from up high above, swing your weapon overhead to cancel it out. Few things are as satisfying as hearing and seeing a bevy of ninja stars clank off your sword
Now it's time to take out the ninja trash. FLASH SOME STEEL
Up until now you may have realized there hasn't been any bosses. If you're anything like me, you get a big kick out of confronting a classic end level guardian at the conclusion of each stage. 3 Ninjas Kick Back actually does have a few bosses, but only a few. The first of which will come in the next stage. Typically, it annoys me when there isn't a boss at the end of each level, but for this game, I didn't mind it. It even seemed to oddly fit the game
The few bosses that do exist are by no means memorable boss battles. Hell, a few of them are downright damn annoying. Exploring the decently mapped out levels was far more interesting to me, so I'm thankful the boss encounters were limited
"DAMN SPIDER-MAN... save some for me!"
This mammoth of a nightmare is taken straight out of the movie
A fun level, due to its highly interactive environment, as you'll see
Hospitals are generally places you'd rather avoid if you can help it. Tokyo General now, on the other hand, is a fairly fun romp, thanks in large part to its moments of black humor
Slam might have been here, but he should have stayed in school
Strike this metal trash can here to send it packing. I love the interactive environment. It adds to the game's charm, and is true to its source material. However, these hi-jinx opportunities occurs in only a few levels, but I like how they are sandwiched in the middle between the more 'serious' stages
The blockbuster of the summer... CAN OF STEEL
"NOTHING STOPS THIS TRASH CAN" as the great Heisenberg might say. It serves as a wickedly effective defense AND offense all at the same time ^_^
'One man's junk is another man's treasure' they say...
Save the hostages and free the slaves! The saved are eternally grateful, and SHOCKED, that such a pint-size kid could bring about their freedom. Never before was the saying more true than it is now: "NO DREAM IS TOO BIG... AND NO DREAMER TOO SMALL"
3NKB confirms what we knew all along... hospitals are dangerous
MORI SALAMANCA! "Gramps, ring your bell if ya can hear me"
I can almost see it now... 3 NINJAS: KICKING BAD. Or, maybe not
Victor Wong goes from wild ninja assassin to wheelchair madman
"Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I have made from the 3 NINJAS movies? I mean even if I told you, you wouldn't believe me. No you clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am NOT in danger, Mister MUTHA-FUKKEN Grunger, I AM THE DANGER!"
"Who da hell are ya?" "You know exactly who I am. Say my name" "DO WHAT? Man, I don't have a DAMN clue who the hell you are" "Yeah you do. I'm the kook. I'm the man who killed the box office" "Bullshit. The CROW got the box office. 50 thousand May 11, 1994" "You sure? *very long pause*That's right. Now... SAY MY NAME" *lengthy pause* "MORI-SAN-BERG" "YOU'RE GOD DAMN RIGHT!"
At times it comes off as a quasi-mixture of platformer/beat 'em up
Not great, or even good, but far from crap. There's fun to be had
PSST, WHAT'S THE PASSWORD?
With passwords and a 2 player option, 3NKB has its share of pros
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
3 Ninjas Kick Back received basically zero press back in the day. I don't recall one review, or even preview, for the SNES version. And back in those days, both EGM and GameFan Magazine covered a LOT of games. So for a Super Nintendo game to miss the cut entirely, that didn't speak greatly of it. 3 Ninjas Kick Back appeared to be shunned, at least, in light of other titles released that same holiday season of '94. Being a licensed game of a movie series that wasn't exactly hot at the time must have been tough. Now had they gone and released a 3 Ninjas game back in 1992 when the first film came out and had a lot of buzz, I bet it would have fared far better, in terms of being featured in the press. Instead, 3 Ninjas Kick Back found itself stuck between a rock and a hard place, with nowhere to go but down into a spike-filled pit. On the internet, the game has largely been blasted by those who have played it. Personally, I wonder how many of those critics actually played it beyond the first couple levels, and gave it a real shot, because honestly, 3 Ninjas Kick Back isn't shabby. It's no gem, but I believe it gets more hate than it deserves Gets kicked on a lot, but I think it's got a little kick!
WHAT THE BOX SAID | WHAT I SAY...
The visuals are a little bland in some parts while looking decent in others >
Interacting with the various items is probably the best part of 3NKB, but sadly it's only for a few levels >
2 ninjas can play at once to stir maximum havoc >
If some were tons, sure >
Sound effects are pretty cool, but not awesome >
Definitely not many nasty looking bosses as there are like only 3 bosses >
While the later levels have a bit more "meat" on the bones, the early ones are incredibly short, including one you can polish off in about 10 seconds flat >
3NKB finds itself somewhere right in the middle of the SNES pack
While 3 Ninjas Kick Back is never going to make any top lists ever, it shouldn't be lumped in with some of the true SNES stinkers, either. It's a decent game that has a pinch of beat 'em up soul spliced in with the platforming action. Then pepper in more than a few sprinkles of black humor, and you get a surprisingly decent effort that has its moments here and there. One of the great things about retro gaming today is the ability to play these old games for the first time and form your own opinion. I'm really shocked at the excessive negative feedback this one gets. The beautiful thing about this hobby is you might like a game most people hate. As I stuck with 3NKB and pressed on, I saw the effort the programmers put in. Little details like being able to fling a toy truck at a punk's shin, or deflecting a projectile attack from above with a well-timed overhead swing, 3NKB is more playable than one may expect Pushing a wheelchair bound grandpa into enemies FTW
With 3 different characters to select from, a 2 player mode and some decently entertaining levels, 3NKB isn't shabby. Whether it's rigorous skirmishes with your grandpa in the forest, or outwitting the Grungers and crew in the hospital, the game features some nice versatility. I love the levels with objects in the background that you can interact with. It's a game that doesn't take itself too seriously, and I found the black humor to be rather subtle and effective. The game can be a bit difficult in certain spots, but it can be vanquished with some good ole persistence and smarts. There aren't a lot of bosses, and the few that exist aren't particularly well executed, so in the end perhaps the lack of bosses is for the best. It's the level designs instead that semi-deliver. They're not original or brilliant, but competent and decently structured, providing some platforming fun along the way. In the end, 3 Ninjas Kick Back is a fairly decent game that offers a somewhat enjoyable mix of the beat 'em up and platforming genre. It was much better than I anticipated it to be, but of course, your mileage may vary. Not every game has to be a classic, and I think there's a place for quirky decent games with a healthy dose of humor. Sometimes, that's what you crave
An interesting piece of SNES collecting lore, the game itself ain't half bad. While many have trashed it over the years, I suspect those folks didn't give the game much of a legitimate chance beyond the first couple of levels, which are, admittedly, ho-hum to say the least. It's easy then to agree with the consensus. But press on a bit further and you may find a rather quirky affair that has enough charm and black humor to make it worth your while *DING DING DING!*
Better than one might think, 3 Ninjas Kick Back has its moments