The Ninja Gaiden book from the Worlds of Power series is a delightful story. I had to look up how closely it follows the plot of the game, and I think the author did a great job. The story is cleaned up a bit, and there is more character development.
The changes that were made make sense for the intended audience. Even though the game had more mature themes, I suppose that plot wouldn’t have been okay in book form. Some adults tend to freak out over silly things when it comes to books.
Let’s talk about the story and some things I liked and disliked.
The book follows the game’s plot for the most part. Ryu is on a quest to avenge the death of his father. Along the way, he is pulled into situations involving saving the world.
Ryu must deal with a criminal organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, and ancient demons. There is also the strange tie-in with Shinobi. I’m not sure if it is related to the Sega game “Shinobi,” but it is a fun coincidence.
The book differs in how it sets up Ryu and his father, Ken. I’m just now realizing the Street Fighter reference. Ken is an archeologist who finds the two statues that can bring the demon back to life. One of the mini-bosses attacks him, and his college escapes with the black statue.
The first few chapters explain this in a somewhat confusing way. It flashes back to Ken searching through the Amazon, where he finds the statues and gets captured. This is the most significant change in the plot. In the game, Ken is dead, and in the book, he is still alive.
It feels like more of a family-friendly version of the game. I like it for what it is. I’m also guessing that most kids didn’t pick up on or care too much about the game’s plot.
From there, the book closely follows the game. Ryu gets caught by the CIA; he travels to the temple in the Amazon and fights a bunch of mini-bosses. He finds his dad, deals with the CIA director trying to kill him, and saves the day.
Problems with the story
Like many of these books, the fights are wrapped up very quickly. I would have liked for more of a description of the battles, but I’m guessing that would have been too much for this type of book.
Some things that would have been nice to have explained are handwaved as Ninja powers, which works for the video game but seems odd to me now. I don’t think I would have cared about this stuff when I was little.
Ryu moves around a bit too quickly. It was a bit strange because we don’t know how he traveled to each location, and the timeline gets a little weird. This isn’t really an issue if you don’t want it to be. However, I’m weird and wanted to know why things were happening!
The CIA involvement is kind of stupid. They get portrayed ab being both incompetent and all-knowing at the same time. I get that it’s a story, but I can’t help but think that they would have just blown the place up and shot all the bad guys. They didn’t need Ryu, but I guess Ninja powers trump a few explosives in a story like this.
The story is good overall. However, it suffers a little from its source material and how things aren’t explained.
What I liked and disliked
I liked how the book reads like a B movie. It is a fun story that I felt I had watched parts of it in different martial arts movies. It would have made a great live-action movie or a forgettable one that would have been reviewed on the internet.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I could have seen this being one of the movies made by Godfrey Ho or by Cannon Films. It’s just dumb enough to work, but you want to see the insanity that the 80s would have injected into the script.
I wouldn’t say I liked how some things were glossed over—especially the fights with the mini-bosses. There will be this build-up of the person that Ryu is going to fight, and it is over in a sentence or two. The demon is given more time, but the others aren’t given enough.
The lack of description makes me think that Scholastic had the authors minimize violence in the books. It creates an odd comparison when you look at the video game and the book. Both were for the same audience, but the book tones down the violence and ensures the good guys survive.
Despite the issues I had, this was a fun book. It felt like an 80s martial arts movie! The plot was a little ridiculous, but it was a fun type of absurd.
I enjoyed reading through the story and comparing it to the video game. There weren’t many differences between the video game and the book. The few I found made sense and expanded on the plot of the video game.
If I had read this when I was younger, I think I would have enjoyed it. I definitely wouldn’t have thought about some things in it as much. It was a fun story about a ninja and his bizarre powers that could only exist in a video game or a short story.