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October 24, 2009

The Wacky Month of Zen Part VIII

The Wacky Month of Zen Part VIII
Zen Intergalactic Ninja NES Video Game Review

October is The Wacky Month of Zen,‭ ‬and we further our celebration of the cult classic character with his adventures on the‭ ‬Nintendo Entertainment‭ ‬System‭!

zen-intergalactic-ninja-carIn the early‭ ‬1990s,‭ ‬Zen’s popularity was‭ ‬soaring.‭ ‬Konami took interest in publishing and developing a video game of the hero for the NES.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1993‭ ‬fans were able to take control of the Intergalactic Ninja to cleanse the Earth of Lord Contaminous in Zen Intergalactic Ninja.‭

Lord Contaminous has kidnapped young Jeremy Baker,‭ ‬holder of the‭ ‬Geocrystal.‭ ‬The Geocrystal is the only item in the‭ ‬universe with the power to destroy Contaminous and his filthy army,‭ ‬and the evil war lord will stop at nothing to control it.‭ ‬Enter Zen Intergalactic Ninja,‭ ‬who has been summoned by the Gordons,‭ ‬an advanced alien race,‭ ‬to‭ ‬save the “star childe,”Jeremy,‭ ‬and clean up Lord Contaminous.‭

A healthy explanation of the story is included in the game‭’‬s instruction‭ ‬manual‭;‬ however,‭ ‬unless you actually read it,‭ ‬you‭’‬ll probably be left a bit confused as to WTF is going on.

Zen is your basic side scrolling beat‭ ‬‘em up that you‭’‬ve seen a lot of in the NES era,‭ ‬and much like the Mega Man series,‭ ‬it‭’‬s very simplistic,‭ ‬yet super challenging.‭ ‬You start out with a map of‭ ‬4‭ ‬different stages‭ (‬An oil rig,‭ ‬rain‭ ‬forest,‭ ‬toxic factory,‭ ‬and railway)‬ playable in any order you choose.‭

Zen is pretty easy to control‭ ‬with the A and B buttons being‭ ‬your jump and attack actions.‭ ‬Using your Photon Staff,‭ ‬you can perform a basic thrust with your weapon,‭ ‬a nifty crouching attack for some low blows,‭ ‬and a neat mid air dash that you‭’‬ll also be using to scale narrow walls and ledges.‭ ‬You‭’‬ll advance in most‭ ‬levels by jumping from platform to platform,‭ ‬but don‭’‬t forget to hold down the DOWN button on the D-Pad to duck low flying enemies.

Zen Intergalactic Ninja-4--article_image

I started my quest for‭ ‬cleanliness in the Slixxon Oil‭ ‬Rig stage where you,‭ ‬as Zen,‭ ‬must search a burning‭ ‬off shore oil refinery for trapped survivors.‭ ‬‭ ‬You doge and smash robots with your Photon Staff,‭ ‬and grab onto hanging pipes to get across large gaps,‭ ‬moving as fast as you can to the upper levels of the facility.‭ ‬Eventually you‭’‬ll come across a fire extinguisher which you‭’‬ll use to put out the burning doorways to free the trapped civilians.‭ ‬Eventually you work your way up to Oilslick,‭ ‬the first of a few very simple boss fights.‭

The next stage Zen and I‭ ‬conquered was the‭ ‬Biggs‭ ‬Toxic Factory.‭ ‬A brief cut scene appears,‭ ‬showing Zen placing explosives along the room,‭ ‬after that, you enter a time lock to escape the factory before it blows.‭ ‬You run past robots and‭ ‬avoid‭ ‬lasers, making epic leaps to moving platforms and finally running into‭ Smogger, another simple boss.‭ ‬Some quick thumbs and‭ ‬repeated Photon Staff blows will take him out pretty easily.

Moving onto the Acid Rain Forest,‭ ‬Zen is confronted with Sulfura,‭ ‬who is killing off the plant life in the forest below.‭ ‬You get in a few quick jabs at Sulfura before you have to go restore the plants down in the jungle.‭ ‬Once you‭’‬ve repeated this‭ ‬process,‭ Sulfura becomes just another‭ ‬piece of trash to be disposed of by Zen.

The Railway stage was probably my favorite.‭ ‬The‭ ‬game gets‭ ‬extremely fast paced here,‭ ‬and if you aren‭’‬t quick enough,‭ ‬you‭’‬ll‭ ‬be repeating this one over and going through a lot of lives.‭ ‬You and Zen are dropped into a railcart where you move throughout the caves,‭ ‬having to flip switches to change the direction of the tracks before you derail.‭ ‬There‭ ‬are also some jumps over large gaps where the track is out.‭ ‬Over all, the level‭ ‬is‭ ‬reminiscent‭ ‬of something from the Battletoads series.‭ ‬Your boss for this level,‭ Garbageman,‭ ‬is‭ ‬cake.‭ ‬He‭’‬ll burrow into the ground and try to‭ ‬jump you from beneath,‭ ‬but he‭’‬s simple to track and evade.

Zen_Intergalactic_Ninja-3Between these four stages are awesome‭ ‬bonus stages where you have to save‭ ‬animals from taking a toxic waste bath,‭ ‬or knock trash into a giant‭ ‬furnace.‭ ‬You rack up‭ ‬bonus points and‭ ‬acquire special‭ ‬items like shields or health‭ ‬regenerators‭ ‬which are great for the more difficult boss battles to come.

After you overcome the first four stages,‭ ‬you battle through a poisoned swap where you‭’‬ll‭ ‬rescue the Star Childe himself,‭ ‬Paul Stanley, Jeremy‭ ‬Baker.‭ ‬The rest of the game is a series of pretty intense boss battles.‭ ‬You‭ ‬drop down a long pit,‭ ‬with a deadly‭ ‬guillotine dropping right behind you,‭ ‬take on a robot who likes throwing rocks (‬again,‭ ‬some quick‭ ‬dodging and Photon Staff action make short work of him‭)‬,‭ ‬leading up to a fight against‭ ‬– GASP‭ ‬– a‭ ‬Zen‭ ‬doppelganger‭!‬ What makes this boss so difficult is that the evil Zen twice gets to regenerate his health.‭ ‬But if your soul is pure,‭ ‬and your will strong,‭ ‬the evil clone will fall.‭

Now for the final fight against Lord Contaminious himself‭! ‬This battle is comprised of‭ ‬two acts.‭ ‬The first is while Contaminous is sitting about his throne,‭ ‬spitting fire and tossing enemies at you.‭ ‬Once you‭ ‬wear him down some,‭ ‬he takes the fight to the atmosphere.‭ ‬You fight in the stars under another time lock,‭ ‬with the Earth in the background,‭ ‬slowly decaying.‭ ‬Like Zen‭’‬s evil counterpart,‭ ‬Contaminous will twice‭ ‬regenerate‭ ‬his health,‭ ‬and if you can defeat him before the Earth rots completely,‭ ‬then you will have‭ ‬once again proven why Zen is the baddest Ninja in the galaxy‭!

zen-12Depending on how skilled you are with these types of games,‭ ‬it should take between‭ ‬30‭ ‬minutes and an hour to finish.‭ The graphics are about as ordinary as you‭’‬ll find‭ ‬in any other early‭ ‬90s NES game,‭ ‬as well as the music.‭ ‬Some‭ ‬of the sounds were imports from an‭ ‬earlier Konami release and fellow Archie Comics published characters,‭ ‬Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The game was pretty fun for what it was.‭ ‬Other games,‭ ‬like the‭ ‬aforementioned‭ ‬Mega Man series does what Zen tries to do‭ ‬better,‭ ‬and the story doesn’‭t make much sense if you aren‭’‬t already‭ ‬familiar with the character.‭ ‬You won‭’‬t be missing out on anything by passing up on Zen Intergalactic Ninja,‭ ‬but it sure is a fun way to help kill an afternoon if you like this style of game.‭ ‬3/5

Konami also released a Game Boy version of Zen Intergalactic Ninja which isn‭’‬t much to speak of,‭ ‬but‭ ‬then again,‭ ‬not too many Game Boy games were at that time.

Seeing what Konami has become over the years, publishing games like‭ ‬Castlevania,‭ ‬Silent Hill,‭ ‬and the super popular Metal Gear Solid series,‭ ‬it would be cool to see what they would do if Zen was revisited for an Xbox‭ ‬360‭ ‬or PlayStation‭ ‬3‭ remake.

Andrew Hurst



  1. I definitely dig side scrollers. I wish I had an NES so I could give this game a good playin’.

  2. billy

    It’s funny to look back at older games. I usually think “wow, I thought that was really great as far as graphics.” These days the games are so realistic it’s scary.

  3. Infinite Speech

    i never knew there was a Zen game, it looks similar to the TMNT game Konami put out earlier

  4. Josh

    Wow, I had no idea this game ever existed. I wanna play it! ‘The Wacky Month of Zen’ series is compiled of some the greatest Zen article’s on the net. I love reading these. Keep up the great work Andrew!

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