Ready for an epic battle of ninjas versus invading space aliens? Ninja Crusaders takes the tried-and-true ninja formula and recasts it as a science-fiction drama with two-person interactive play.
The story begins (as usual) in a galaxy far, far away. The savage Inimicus forces have set their sights on our fragile planet Earth. Endless waves of battle-scarred troop carriers begin landing swarms of alien invaders worldwide. Earth is consumed in a fierce global assault. The Inimicus demands are simple - they want the world and they want it now.
To resist the maniacal aliens, the ancient Kawari Ninja clan has revived long-forgotten beasts of war. They've also endowed you with the power to transform yourself into these animals and take the battle to the enemy. Which animal you become is determined by which weapon you have at the time. When you're carrying shuriken, you become a tiger; when you have a chain and sickle, you become a scorpion; with a bo staff, you become a hawk; and with a katana sword, you become a dragon.
The two-player mode seems to work best in Ninja Crusaders. Teamwork is essential because your ninjas have no tolerance for hits. Just bumping into an enemy whisks you away to the spirit world. With two players, one ninja can lead the attack while the other provides cover and looks for power-ups.
Your strategy centers on which weapon-animal you need for each stage. If the weapon-animal you're currently using seems to be working well, you're probably better off not changing to another combination.
For example, you'll need the chain and sickle/scorpion combination for stage 5-1's water obstacles. The scorpion can knife through the water, killing aliens with devastating swipes of its tail. Deciding when to change to a different weapon-animal becomes more critical as you approach the Inimicus stronghold in stage 5-3.
Ninja Crusaders doesn't go beyond other ninja games, and the animation is rather choppy. But the animal-transformation feature does add a welcome twist.