Ninja Saviors does not specify the country being attacked. It’s described as “once great and prosperous” and now, led by a tyrant. Enemies appear decidedly western. In the background? Rows of military hardware primed to strike.
On its initial release in 1994, Ninja Saviors Return came after a wave of software championing Desert Storm. Games like Desert Strike and Super Battletank brought jingoism to their pixels. So too does Ninja Saviors, just not for America.
It’s a ninja trio (brought up to five in this semi-remake) marching into an American-like military superpower, and standing up for Japan. There’s Japanese conservative fantasy here, that want to rewrite Japan’s post-war constitution, allowing their own military to strike another nation. Stages move from dockside military bases, toward lavish homes and offices near the Rockies, growing ever nearer America’s economic core.
But it’s wrong to scale up Ninja Saviors (a non-subtle name) as warlike, so much as frustrated with endless conflict; it’s fighting to save the world from more fighting incited by the west’s need for oil. And while American troops stick to guns and grenades (the few Asian outliers choosing martial arts or swords), the Japanese ninja convey a technological ingenuity – they’re robots.
In this near future fight, Japan does not lose soldiers. Rather, the nation bulked up their robotics to save lives. The aggressors – the western, human aggressors – choose to engage in conflict. Ninja Saviors is a clever, outlandish clash of nationalist ideals, played out through an absurdist sci-fi vision.