“Godspeed, Messenger!”
August 29, 2018 10:37 AM   Subscribe

The Messenger: A Blissful Platformer [Screen Rant] “The Golden Era of 8-bit gaming is an embarrassment of riches, and modern titles have duly plunged it for inspirational guidance, homage, and cheap grabs for nostalgia. Despite that, there are always certain classics whose graves stand relatively undisturbed, like the historic run of the Ninja Gaiden franchise on the original NES, a trilogy of tricky platformers which represents the jumping-off point for The Messenger, a hybrid 8- and 16-bit homage to Ryu Hayabusa, but resplendent with an immaculate sense of movement and an infectiously irreverent sense of humor.” [YouTube][Game Trailer]

• The Creators Of Ninja Gaiden Play And Share Thoughts On The Messenger [Nintendo Life] [YouTube]
“Tomorrow sees the release of The Messenger - a side-scrolling action platformer heavily inspired by a whole wave of classic games. As it turns out, the whole thing is a blast to play (check out our review if you missed it), but what do the developers of the game's inspirations think? Well, answering that question is Hideo Yoshizawa (director/producer) and Keiji Yamagishi (composer) of the original Ninja Gaiden - the game which The Messenger devs say was the biggest influence of all. The duo sat down with the new release at BitSummit 2018, giving it a go and sharing their thoughts. It's safe to say that they liked what they played, noting how the game has its own identity but clearly shows a lot of respect for Ninja Gaiden in the process.”
• The Messenger: fleet footed [Gamespot]
“The ninja's skillset is initially limited, but it expands quickly to include abilities like a rope dart, wall climbing, and aerial gliding as well as a couple of optional techniques like a boomerang shuriken. Most interestingly, The Messenger replaces the classic double-jump move with something called cloudstepping, an ability that only makes double-jumping available after you've successfully landed a sword blow on an enemy or object mid-air. This means you simply can't double-jump just anywhere, and an element of skill and timing is added to regular proceedings--chain several hits in succession and you can almost fly across the map by cloudstepping, but whiff one slash and you will find yourself staring into a bottomless pit. There is a great satisfaction to be found in the demands of successful cloudstepping, and the controls are impressively responsive to accompany your needs here. The rewarding high-risk mechanic is complemented by The Messenger's smart design.”
• The Messenger is actually two games in one [Polygon]
“The Messenger opens as a straightforward Ninja Gaiden tribute, drawn in 2D NES-style pixels. Our nameless blue ninja flips off platforms and walls, slicing hundreds of demons between point A and point B. An otherwise familiar dish, The Messenger is spiced with meta dialogue that’s just the right amount of twee, along with some challenging but hardly impossible boss fights. Our hero visits all the classic biomes — the swamp, the ice kingdom, the volcanic caverns — and eventually finds himself on the footsteps of the big-bad. This chunk of The Messenger would work on its own as the latest entry in the rapidly expanding retro demake catalogue, a sibling of games like Shovel Knight. And now, a warning: We can’t discuss the rest of The Messenger without spoiling its big twist. This isn’t related to the story, and it’s hinted at heavily in the trailer and in demos during conventions like PAX.”
• The Messenger: nostalgia heartstrings [Destructoid]
“The Messenger trades in the idea of an antiquated life system for a demon who charges for saving your ass. He can bring you back from the brink indefinitely, but he'll stick around to steal any shards you grab for a while afterward. He also isn't above making fun of you for dying an absurd amount of times. You might want to get used to seeing that little guy as there is plenty of dying to be had here. Thankfully, I never had a controller-throwing moment. Whenever I was taken out, it was due to a poor snap judgment on my end, or just losing out to one of the more acrobatically focused boss fights. The Messenger is without a doubt one of the best indies available on the Switch right now. It has a lot of competition with the sudden sea of metroidvania games available, but its stunning look, fantastic soundtrack, and clever writing coupled with the amazing gameplay put it a step above the rest. When I walk away from a game every night only wanting to play more, there's little to complain about. ”
posted by Fizz (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am intrigued, but I must return to the headline:

That one could be both a "blissful platformer" and a "ninja gaiden tribute" is...

It is interesting.
posted by billjings at 10:45 AM on August 29, 2018 [5 favorites]

I beat Ninja Gaiden 2 exactly once. If I remember correctly I was home from college, so between 2003 and 2006 sometime. I’d owned the game since release. I’ve probably put two or three hundred hours into the first two Ninja Gaidens over the course of my life. I too think that calling a Ninja Gaiden tribute “blissful” is a real interesting choice of words.
posted by Caduceus at 11:54 AM on August 29, 2018

That one could be both a "blissful platformer" and a "ninja gaiden tribute"

Celeste is both of these. So it is very much possible and this looks promising. That the original creators of Ninja Gaiden have given their thumbs up, that's a very positive sign.
posted by Fizz at 11:55 AM on August 29, 2018

Their reaction/comments in the video linked in the second article is worth watching. I love how excited they are.
posted by Fizz at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is the music just solid fucking bangers? Because that's 99% of the reason I played Ninja Gaiden back in the day.
posted by selfnoise at 11:59 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Is the music just solid fucking bangers? Because that's 99% of the reason I played Ninja Gaiden back in the day.

You can hear some of the soundtrack here. Sounds like some pretty authentic 8bit bleeps and bloops. My head was definitely nodding along.
posted by dis_integration at 12:21 PM on August 29, 2018

That one could be both a "blissful platformer" and a "ninja gaiden tribute" is...

The Polygon article explains exactly how it manages this, actually, but the article points out before elaborating that the explanation is technically a spoiler, in case you're precious about that sort of thing.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:33 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is the music just solid fucking bangers? Because that's 99% of the reason I played Ninja Gaiden back in the day.

"Excuse me, what is a 'Solid fucking banger'?"
"Twenty bucks, same as in town."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:55 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Which is the best Ninja Gaiden?
posted by macrael at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2018

Both my ring tone and my text alerts are from Ninja Gaiden II. I’m not fucking around with how much I love those games. If this is half as good as it sounds I’m going to be in heaven.

I can’t watch these videos at work, but will check them out when I get home.
posted by Caduceus at 1:03 PM on August 29, 2018

Two is best. Three has a weird story and I don’t think was made by the same team (could be misremembering) and one, while great, doesn’t have wall climbing which is such a huge quality of life improvement. Two is just straight up the most fun to play IMO.
posted by Caduceus at 1:05 PM on August 29, 2018

Celeste is both of these.

I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble making the connection between Celeste and Ninja Gaiden.
posted by pwnguin at 5:44 PM on August 29, 2018

Climbing walls? Dying thousands of times?
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:57 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble making the connection between Celeste and Ninja Gaiden.

A modern day game that takes many of the elements of old school platformers and refines them. It sort of works in my brain this way, but my brain is weird.
posted by Fizz at 6:03 PM on August 29, 2018

So I picked this up and it feels very much like a Ninja Gaiden version of Shovel Knight. The soundtrack is amazing and it's just challenging enough to be fun. Mind you, I know that at some point, there's a shift in the game and it ups the difficulty, so I think it's on this easier difficulty level until that happens and then it gets interesting. But those are my first impressions.
posted by Fizz at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

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