Published on September 18th, 2011 | by Ryan0
Retro Game Review: Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES, 1987)
Rad Ultimate Power
Localizing games for the American market has always been a challenge for Japanese publishers. Over the years, games have arrived on our shores with changes to difficulty level, sexual and religious content, violence, characters, and entire plots. In 1987, Data East decided to bring Irem’s Kaiketsu Yanchamaru, a port of an arcade platformer that took place in feudal Japan, over to America as Kid Niki: Radical Ninja.” In the localization process, the game’s packaging was given a gaudy neon-pink makeover, the text was changed to reflect a Valleyspeak/surfer slang feel, and most disturbingly, Niki’s traditional Japanese topknot was turned into a hideous rat tail. Aesthetically, this is the quintessential late-80s video game.
As far as the game itself goes, there’s not much to say. It’s simplistic, difficult (towards the end), and has one music track that pretty much plays on loop throughout the entire game. In spite of the game’s shortcomings, it is quite playable and charming. While not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, Kid Niki is an important relic from a time long past; representing not only gameplay conventions, but the cultural misunderstandings, slang, styles, and color palettes of the era.
And that’s pretty rad.