Data East was a fairly prolific arcade company in the 80s and 90s. While many of these games may have passed by the denizens of those decades unnoticed, Caveman Ninja is a title that most people have probably experienced. But, these stone age shinobi graced the Super Nintendo under a different name: Joe & Mac*, a recognizable game for most Nintendo enthusiasts.
*Editor’s Note: I would be remiss in not mentioning that the port that’s considered closest to the arcade game appeared on the Sega Genesis, using the same alternate title, but also featuring Blast Processing!
Caveman Ninja is a co-op action platform game that I’d most liken to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series by Capcom, purely in terms of game-play and feel. You and a buddy use a variety of weapons and power-ups to save bikini-clad CaveGirls from raging dinosaurs and a opposing clan of other, less capable caveman ninja.
The weapons all have different properties, and riff on the neolithic theme with fire, wheels and electricity appearing alongside stone boomerangs, dinosaur bones, and clubs. The weapons feel very satisfying to use in combat, and their unique feel is definitely the standout game-play feature.
The folks at Flying Tiger once again provide an excellent port here. I’ve detailed the features of the Johnny Turbo collection previously here, but to quickly review, they offer a bevy of screen filters and video options to suit any taste. This game in particular left me really wanting a button remapping option (the lack of which is my only real criticism of the collection so far), since the attack and jump buttons ended up at an upward angle on the Switch. It’s something I keep hoping will be added to all their releases in a patch, or even as a new standard for the future.
No matter what era of history you live in, however, this is a fun and challenging romp, that’s even better with a friend, and one of the best releases on the Johnny Turbo catalog. The mechanics are pretty standard, but the theme is entertaining, the controls responsive, and the visuals so, so colorful. If you’ve ever wanted to bash a T-Rex on the nose with a club, pick this one up today!
Charlie’s first attempts at gaming did not go well. Repeated, failed run-ins with the first Goomba in Super Mario Brothers 1 plagued his maiden gaming voyage. Undaunted, he would go on to become an avid gamer of all platforms, with Nintendo always sitting atop the highest pedestal. Except for that Halo 3 incident in 2007. We don’t talk about it. It never happened.
Currently, Charlie enjoys playing games on as many platforms as he can get his hands on, with current favorites being the Switch, 3DS and Neo Geo. When he’s not playing games, Charlie is a live sound engineer and manager for his production company, Clear Harmonies, based in Washington, D.C.
Charlie enjoys talking about games nearly as much as playing them, and loves meeting new people, so hit him up!
Plays: All of them games. Seriously.