Ninjas are an important part of the history of Japan. In the West they garnered great popularity within film and other forms of entertainment. Whether they were good or bad, there was something about the idea of the ninja that grabbed our attention. So it is no wonder that when they started to make games based on ninjas, they would be just as popular. When people mention ninjas we mainly think of stealth assassins using specialized weapons to complete their missions, though that is not always the case for this list of top five video games featuring ninjas.
5. The Ninja Warriors (Super Nintendo)
The Ninja Warriors is a beat ‘em up for the Super Nintendo and features cyborg ninjas smashing their way through bad guys to defeat the evil Banglar. The graphics are really good and it has some nice gameplay. It does get fairly repetitive just like with any other beat ‘em up game, but the varied attacks make for a lot of fun. It stars three playable characters: Ninja, Kunoichi, and Kamaitachi. Each character has their own balance of strength and speed. One of the main flaws is the lack of a two player option, but it is published by Taito who are known for putting out some amazing games. This is a nice pick up and play game for any fan of beat ‘em up ninja games.
4. The Ninja (Master System)
The Ninja is a great game for the Sega Master System that is extremely challenging. Basically, the main character in this game, Kazamaru, must battle through old Japan to save the princess from a warlord named Gyokuro. Kazamaru’s weapon of choice is his darts. It is a game that has one hit deaths so it is important to learn all of the game mechanics early on. It is also different than many other games because the scrolling parts of The Ninja are not always left to right. A very helpful part of the gameplay is the power-ups that allow Kazamaru to move quicker and his darts to become stronger. The inclusion of a scoring system allows the player to earn extra lives. Overall, this is a pretty amazing ninja game and it is on the Master System which makes it even better.
3. Ninja Gaiden (Nintendo Entertainment System)
Ninja Gaiden, is known as one of top tier games on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The story follows Ryu Hayabusa as he looks to avenge the death of his father. During his search he realizes that evil forces are trying to use two magical demon statues to destroy the world. This game includes fast paced gameplay mechanics as well as amazing anime style cut scenes. The graphics are very nice for an original Nintendo game and the controls are great. It is revered as one of the hardest games for the system. It is usual to get bombarded by enemies with different attack patterns and to get knocked off of ledges by enemies that respawn instantly. Even though the difficulty is high, this game is definitely worth picking up for the great gameplay. This game was known as Shadow Warriors in PAL regions.
2. The Revenge of Shinobi (Mega Drive/Genesis)
The Revenge of Shinobi is definitely one of the best ninja games on the Mega Drive. The graphics are beautiful and gameplay is amazing. The main character is Joe Musashi whose sensei was killed by an evil group known as the Neo Zeed. They have also kidnapped the woman he loves, Naoko, which is a big mistake when messing with a ninja. The selection of different Ninjitsu (ninja magic) gives the game some amazing depth. Most people would agree that the best part of the game is flinging shuriken at their enemies. It is a very tough game so every weapon and special power is crucial to advancing through each stage. It is also a fun game to collect as there are three different versions that have different enemies due to licensing issues. This is a must own game even if you are not a fan of ninjas.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade (Coin- Op)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade is one of the most recognizable games in the ninja beat ‘em up genre. It came out in 1989 when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze had struck the world. The plot in this game consists of the Ninja Turtle’s having to save April O’Neil from the evil Shredder. April O’Neil being the reporter that the Ninja Turtles befriended in the cartoons and movies. Basically, the player must battle through levels to find April while fighting the foot clan and a vast array of boss characters. The best part of this game is being able join a friend for some cooperative gameplay, even if they were halfway through the game. Many friends have been made at game arcades while teaming up on these machines.
Overall, many of us would have different memories of our gaming childhoods if ninja games never existed. Not all of our favorite games are the same so please feel free to list some of your favorite ninja titles in the comments below.