Sad Clown, Dead Clown: Ninja Clowns Review

Last week we started look at weird Arcade games with Ninja Baseball Batman! Since I still had some fight left in me I decided to look at what else could be Ninja’s I know turtles could but Clowns was new to me! After playing this game I am not sure if clowns make great Ninjas , but apparently they DO make good zombies……..and tornadoes .. but that’s another story.

<Disclaimer> All Experience with this game are based on a single player experience with no prior knowledge of the game, any opinion I give of it will be done from this angle and this angle alone….why am I even defending my opinion of Ninja Clowns?! <End of Disclaimer>

Ninja Clowns was a 1991 arcade game created by Strata, who at the time was better known for their arcade cabinets Time Killers and Blood storm! In this game you take on the role of a clown. Another clown.. but an evil one by the name of Twisto has decided to turn the world into evil zombie clowns! This creates a dozen of enemies for the player to fight which are sometimes tied to the circus and sometimes to the city. For example there are cops who roll exploding donuts at you but also bearded ladies who vomit at you and of course there are a lot of zombie clowns! Luckily you as a random unnamed clown got something they do not have! You are a Ninja as well. Where Ninja Baseball Bat Man gave you access to some ninja techniques though their game, Clown here keeps the fact that he is a Ninja very well hidden. There is nothing remotely ninja about this clown neither in move set nor design! He has a connection with god though or so it seems.

While it can be quite fun to fight against Elvis who tries to beat you up with an accordion or a french pantomime who drops pizza’s each time you hit him this game thoroughly lacks the fun factor that good Arcade games has.. and that is only one of it’s problems. While it definitely is weird and random.. and in that matter is right up my alley the game is very forgettable. This clown in design is the most generic standard clown you can think off.  At least give him a ninja mask?! Or make it a clown suit but with Ninja Colours?! A bandana, a sword? A Ninja walk cycle?! A very cool stern look?! I don’t know but I just spend 30 seconds coming up with ideas and even one of those would make him feel just a bit more like a Ninja. It is a cute clown..i’ll say that but put it to next to 4 other video game clowns and ask me to choose the protagonist of Ninja Clowns and I would struggle big time.

The vomiting bearded lady  the egg farting buff chicken lady with big boobs, the balloon animal spawning flask of helium  and the purple cabbage spider filled with popcorn are visually interesting enemies to fight  they are nothing more than that description about them that I just gave. Plenty of Beat ‘em Up had at least a name and health bar for their enemies.  It resulted in Poison becoming the known character she is for example or Abobo! This game lacks anything of the sorts Bob the Elvis impersonator, The Amazing Bunny the magician or anything of a name would already have made this experience so much more memorable.. but instead it just meanders on. Keep pressing the buttons until you die, Keep feeding quarters into the machine until it is beaten.  Whatever is in your way does not matter.

While there are two cut-scenes  they aren’t very funny either! Just a fake ending with more enemies beyond.. which was so clear because of the level progression screen.. and and ending screen that has the normalised version of the characters saying goodbye to the still nameless clown as he scoots off in a tiny car. As a result  this game is so un-noticeable that THAT is the most ninja about it. Other than that, there is NO tie in to eastern stealth warriors at all, not in story, not in elements, not in techniques, and certainly not in hero design! That doesn’t really have to be bad.. a beat them up named Clown Clowns could still be fun but I expected a hilarious hybrid between two clashing worlds like with my beloved Ninja Baseball Bat Men I reviewed last week! Now I got the hand buzzer of disappointment…and the game has barely begun!

For about 45 minutes out of the hour that it took me to complete this game, I found this game to be aggressively boring. Only after the first stage I realised.. I want to be done with this game and it would go on for some painfully long and uninteresting stages. While this game does have children and woman who just want to make out with you to beat up , Elvis and Orcs on Unicycles this game is a total snooze fest. Which is in it’s own quite an achievement!  How do you make a game where you fight a purple spider with a cabbage body, which holds popcorn.. boring?! The answer unfortunately is in every single way imaginable. I am honestly searching for positives here but I could not find one except for the enemy design.. and after two stages most of the enemies loop!  Not even in colour variations either.. the exact same plumbers and ring masters. Over and over and over again. None of them have very interesting mechanics. Except for the bearded lady who projectile vomits at you! The rest..just punches.

There are pick ups in the game which consist of come iconic clown weapons, such as the spray bottle, a tomato and a gun that shoots a fists. There’s also some water balloons but they are the same as the tomato and the boxing glove pistol really isn’t good as it’s a melee weapon and you don’t really need something to punch harder with. I could say that they at least tried but these are literally the first things you name when thinking about clowns they did not try that hard.  You can punch kick or block.. i think .. but the last technique is useless.. it will just toss your item is you have anything but those items get used up so fast it hardly even matters.  Just like how you attack something.  Where it could have been fun to use the kick to attack lower enemies such as wind up teeth and the punch for higher enemies  both strike center torso so if an enemy is smaller than you, you’ll have to finagle about to get yourself into an opportunity to kick it.  As a result the moves don’t really feel diverse.. just  like an alternative visual to the same thing. Since you can’t combo either it’s just very bland experience.

The most boring part though is the backgrounds. These loop so fast  everything feels extremely small. In the fun house.. the loop might actually be shorter than your actual screen in one area.  The colours of the game also feel super desaturated , it’s like looking at a picture of a sad clown we can tell something is off and it  doesn’t feel good. I literally can’t remember the backgrounds 20 minutes after playing the game. Except for that weird loopy one and the average city!  Clowns shouldn’t be this boring. There is so much you can do with the clown zombie concept as well. Like electric zappy things in the background turning people into zombies, bright circus colours. Animals breaking out?! There is just so much possible and while this arcade game was indeed early.. it still feels like it could have done way better. Just put something interesting there at the very least not just buildings or exit doors. It is unfortunate but you can see the lack of passion that went into this game.

That is a shame because the guys who build this really can make games. Time Killers was pretty nice. However this game  feels like a paycheck throughout. This is also shown in the music and the sound effects which are the worst thing off all. The circus music that plays is annoying and worst.. doesn’t play during the actual levels in circus themes but in the cities.  Their renditions are bad as well. Turtles in Time for example gets you excited when playing through the stages because it has some excellent music in this I felt shame.. hoping my neighbours did not hear me! And I am not ashamed very often. It has that  “my first Midi” with some annoying sound effects vibe. Blegh! I considered muting the sound but that would have caused me to fall asleep! At least this way I got a bit frustrated and it allowed me to slip into an “get it over with” mentality! I would not have beaten it otherwise!

The worst part was the enemy sounds. Some enemies like Elvis and the Hippies talk. It’s  hard on the ears to hear elvis go  ‘Uh Uh..oh.. Thank you Very Much.. I am out.’The order never changes. The hippies keep going ‘Woah Man’ or ‘Wood stack Man’ and they nearly made me quit, and in truth I should have because it never got any better. After the popcorn spider thing, enemies become much more bland and we lose the only thing this game had going for it. The interesting bosses and enemies are no more.

The end fight with Twisto is weird but for the wrong reasons.. he is just a dragon like now suddenly. I don’t get it it.. I never will. It doesn’t look like this guy was in the cutsceness! When he is defeated he looks different as well. If the zombie clown machine made things mutate why did nothing else I mutate?! Why am I thinking about a game named Ninja Clowns! I really wanted to give this game a fair chance and say something nice about it because every game does deserve a fan. Maybe if you really like clowns though this can be your jam! I hope that there is a clown aficionado out there who is like “this game is my jam”. I do doubt that is any of you guys though. But do let me know in the comments and will find a clown game for you I like!

For the first time in a long time I will have fairly short blog because I could nog on about specific cases of the points I made, but with graphics , sound,  story, and gameplay being devoid of any joy I don’t think there is any reason to. There is nothing redeeming about this game. If I really forced it I could say the difficulty is okay.. it was a fairly sizable game and I only used 20 quarters. Mostly because you can cheaps-hot your enemy.. still those 20 quarters better spend elsewhere. With that said I have to give this game my lowest score possible! I do not want to play this again, nor do I think any of you would enjoy it. At least the screenshots are memorable so we always have those! Keep in mind that my score doesn’t mean it is a 1 out of 10 game.  It just means I got no joy out of it. I can see this being fun for people if… they never played a beat ’em up before or…..if you want to beat up girl scouts and bearderd ladies? Maybe if you are into bland midi music and clowns as well..but that one would be a 50/50!

Do you know of a weird game I should play?! Let me know in the comments and who knows I might review your game soon! Weirdest and most random suggestions take precedence! So let’s get funky!
Also please let me know if you enjoyed this game or if you are a clown expert I would love your take on this game!



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