This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, but is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC.
Y’know, I always liked stupidly difficult games. Even when I was a kid, I loved to play Ninja Gaiden on my grandma’s NES. Thankfully, in my recent shortage of maddeningly difficult games of that nature, Oniken: Unstoppable Edition had just what I needed; a short, but demandingly difficult campaign of six levels, a solid mix between Contra style platform-and-fight mechanics and Ninja Gaiden‘s “start with a small amount of lives and restart the whole stage if you lose ‘em” mentality, and a nice retro aesthetic filled with ninja mercenaries with big swords and angry robot polar bears. Oniken: Unstoppable Edition delivers what feels like a fresh experience, while still managing to keep things short, concise, and focused on improving to progress.
Now, I will warn you: as I said, this game consists of only six levels, roughly 4 – 6 hours of gameplay for your average player. Now, because of this, there’s not a whole lot to talk about overall, especially in terms of compelling story. This game is a clear homage to the arcade/NES games of the late 80s – 90’s, so it very much focuses on just gameplay.
You play as Zaku, a ninja mercenary who’s been hired to destroy the army of machines that have marched straight out of the portal from the 80’s. Along the way, you’ll traverse those six stages, learning how to perfectly time your movements and attacks in order to survive the grueling difficulty. You’ll also fight various bosses of course, and there are even cutscenes that really emphasize the pixelated violence and the over-the-top cheesiness of the villains.
Oniken: Unstoppable Edition plays really similar to games like, as I said, Contra and Ninja Gaiden. Lots of jumping and trying to time your attacks perfectly to save your ass from getting murdered by whatever that thing over there is. You’ll likely die a lot, and likely get pissed a lot as a result, but that’s what the game pretty much aims to do. This game relies a lot on you honing your reflexes and learning from your screw-ups, so the more you play, the more you learn, and the better you get as a result.
The gameplay is broken up into segments as well, with some looking more to platforming and others more to combat, forcing you to be quick with your sword and grenades. There are also side segments that’ll have you riding vehicles and things like that to spice it up with some variety. After beating the game you can unlock a host of other modes and options to keep you occupied, such as Boss Rush and a secret 7th level. There’s a pretty good chunk of content here, so for a few bucks, you get a pretty good deal out of it.
That’s pretty much it for Oniken: Unstoppable Edition. There’s no real technical issues to speak of, and the aesthetic and the music are pretty obviously leaned towards classic stylings of the day, so I really do enjoy what they’ve done with it. Oniken feels like a game that’s made for people who are big fans of classic games on the NES, but don’t have any new options to play with after all these years.
Overall, this game is a godsend for NES enthusiasts, and a fun romp for anyone else. If you’ve got a few bucks to spare and don’t mind some classic, brutal difficulty in the midst of your cyber mercenary slaughterfest, pick up Oniken: Unstoppable Edition. I can soundly say I’m glad I got the chance to play it, because I’d been meaning to piss myself off for awhile.