Wrath of the Black Manta (NES)

Wrath of the Black Manta Box Art

Wrath of the Black Manta

System: NES

Release Date: April 1990

Developer: AI

Publisher: Taito

Genre: Action

Children are being kidnapped and drugs are running rampant in Wrath of the Black Manta. You take the mantle of the Black Manta and strike fear into the hearts of your enemies through five levels of side scrolling action. Your master gives you the task to figure out who’s responsible and how you can bring down the evil DRAT organization once and for all. His young pupil Taro has been taken and leaves notes to help you along your way.

The Black Manta runs left and right and can jump with the A Button. This avoids enemies and moves you between platforms. The B Button is the throwing dart that moves across the screen. If you’re close to the enemy, it becomes a sword strike, really no difference other than animation. The levels are relatively linear affairs. There are doors that you can enter, leading to room with three enemies. Defeating them either frees a child hostage, are you telling me these are supposed to be kids? Or gives you a few squares of life. Regaining life is amazingly important, because you’ll lose it when you don’t want to.

Helping you further is the use of Ninpo Arts. You have up to ten different techniques that you can use in the level. These are activated by holding the B Button to build up Power and pressing a direction. I didn’t realize this until the very end, but you can switch the equipped techniques by pressing the Select Button. I used the Art of the Shadow the most, which created a duplicate ninja on top of the Manta. The Art of Missiles was super useful to take down flying ninjas in Tokyo and commandeer their kite.

Red colored bad guys can be walked into and grabbed for an interrogation scene. They mostly tell you nothing useful. The kids you rescue, on the other hand, sometimes tell you where to find secret rooms. These give you more chances at refilling your life, other hints, and powerups. At the end of each level is a boss. From having this game as a kid, I remembered Tiny, but everything else about the game had been forgotten to time. They all have a Ninpo weakness that you can exploit. The final boss requires a specific order of techniques to be used or he’s otherwise invincible.

Graphics: 2.5

The sprites are big and look pretty good. The cut scene, interrogation, and children drawings are hilarious.

Sound: 2.0

You get a few different songs that are pretty good. Sound effects aren’t distracting, but alright, instead.

Gameplay: 2.5

Controls are responsive enough with enough options to kill what you need.

Difficulty: 3.0

I think the balance is pretty good. The new Ninpo Arts don’t make you overpowered or anything.

Fun Factor: 3.0

I enjoyed myself and it’s quick enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Overall Grade: 2.6

Wrath of the Black Manta earns a B-. This is a better showing than I thought, but it’s a simple game that didn’t do a whole lot wrong.

Wrath of the Black Manta Video Review on YouTube