Wrath of the Black Manta

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North American box art.

Wrath of the Black Manta is a platform action game developed by A.I Co. and published by Taito on the NES in April 1990. The game borrows heavily from Shinobi and Rolling Thunder, not just in game play, but even in its story line. You play a ninja called the "Black Manta" who is infiltrating a crime syndicate called "DRAT" which is kidnapping children for an unknown nefarious purpose. The original Japanese release was markedly different.

I bought this game as a child because the box art looked cool to me at the time. Fairly quickly after playing I reached the end boss, but after failing to figure out how to beat him, I gave up on the game. I must have sold it at some point, because I no longer have it. After being annoyed that it was a game I had come so close to beating, I went back and played it on an emulator and beat it.

Status

I used to own this game, but no longer do. I beat the game on 2019-01-07.

Review

  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: NES (Japan)

Good

  • The various ninja arts are fun to experiment with and I like how they alter their strength based on your power meter.
  • I like the idea of interrogating enemies.
  • The over-the-shoulder perspective in the final stage's elevators is a nice change up.

Bad

  • The game is highly derivative of Shinobi and Rolling Thunder.
  • You gain 3 life points every time you defeat the enemies in a room, and you can re-enter them as many times as you like. This means, unless you take 3 damage every time you enter a room (unlikely even for poor players), every enemy room effectively becomes a healing station (which requires brief grinding). This makes the game a lot easier because you're almost always at full health.
  • The ninja arts are poorly implemented. Several of the ninja arts are objectively more useful than others. For example, the art of the spider is only useful in a few specific areas in the game. Also, lightning and fire are completely pointless because you don't get them until the final stage, but, since neither can be used on the final boss, you have to forego them. This might not be an issue in the Japanese version because they have an extra stage and give the arts in a different order.
  • The story and dialogue is utterly ridiculous. Brainwashing children to sell drugs for an organization called DRAT (Drug Runners and Terrorists)? Also, the ham-fisted anti-drug dialogue is lame.
  • The portrait graphics of the villains and kids are horrible, and too much of their dialogue gets reused.
  • Most of the rooms are identical.
  • There isn't much variety among the enemies.
  • The third art to defeat the final boss doesn't really fit the theme.

Ugly

  • Although there isn't anything specific in the game that is ugly, there are so many minor problems that it's hard to appreciate the game.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Videos

Regional Differences

The cut-scenes in the Japanese version are longer and more detailed. The American version has completely different music. The jumping sprite of the ninja has movement lines in the Japanese version. The interrogation scenes are different and don't change each level in the Japanese version. The boss of stage 1 uses different graphics and doesn't have a forward attack in the American version. Japanese version has an additional stage between the American stage 1 and 2. The ninja arts are learned in different orders. The stage 3 boss is totally different. In the American version, you only have to defeat one of the bosses in the final stage, but you have to defeat them all in the Japanese version. In the Japanese version, you don't need to use specific arts to defeat the end boss, he just turns into a space alien and you can defeat him any way you choose.

Credits

Only the Japanese release has credits. The sound is completely different in the American release, so Yoki Shinjyuku may not be the composer of the American version.

Role Staff
Programmer Taro Machida
Game Designer Noripi Sagami
Character Designer Danichi Oono
Sound & Music Yoki Shinjyuku
Additional Staff Tukamaete Kuma

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Wrath of the Black Manta
Japanese 忍者COPサイゾウ Ninja COP Saizou Ninja COP Saizou

Links