By Jeremy Azevedo
|Everybody knows that ninjas are rad. It’s a fact, like saying, “the sun is hot” or “the world is round” or “sweet pickles are disgusting”. It can’t be argued.|
Knowing this, many game developers have tried over the last few decades to capitalize on this awesomnisity by making video games about ninjas, so fat virgins who live in their mom’s basements can pretend to know the glory of decapitating one’s opponent with a razor sharp blade of steel. While there can be no such thing as a bad ninja game, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best, most influential titles in the storied history of ninja gaming:
Ninja Gaiden (NES, Multiplatform)
Ryu Hayabusa symbolizes everything that is totally sweet about ninjas. Some of his hobbies include throwing shuriken, using ninpo (ninja magic, duh) to do crazy shit like duplicate himself or throw fireballs, sticking to walls, hanging from helicopters, cutting fools in half so hard that they EXPLODE, and smacking bitches in the “Dead or Alive” series. Ryu has tangled with monsters, demons, barbarians, lesser ninjas, killer birds, the C.I.A. and lord knows what else, and always manages to come out on top (if you have unlimited continues and a shit-ton of patience, his games are real controller-snappers).
Tenchu (PS1, Multiplatform)
Tenchu was the first game to really give us a taste of the sneaky side of ninjas. Why expend all that energy flipping out and cutting someone’s head off in a shower of blood and bone, when you can chill on the rooftop, feed some idiot a poisoned rice ball (which they will always eat upon discovering, no matter where they found it) creep up on your sleeping victim and cleanly and quietly garrote their throat. Rikimaru and Ayame are like Batman with all their decoys, dog whistles, disguises, grappling hooks and other toys, an essential part of the ninja experience that had been missing from video games for far too long.
Shinobi (Arcade, Sega Master System, Multiplatform)
Joe Musashi is like the Jack Bauer of ninjas, being called upon to battle the forces of Neo Zeed over and over until it just seems ridiculous. But true ninjas don’t complain, unless they’re female ninjas, in which case it can’t be helped. And so he soldiers on, saving his girlfriend from kidnappers, children from the mob, and the world from annihilation by plutonium cyborgs. All in a days work for a badass ninja.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade, NES)
Just because they’re teenage mutant turtles doesn’t make them any less of ninjas. Who doesn’t have fond memories of teaming up with three buddies to take on Shredder and the Foot Clan, stopping for nothing except pizza and the rare opportunity to make crude inter-species sexual advances at April O’Neal? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles went a long way toward proving the old adage “even a subhuman monstrous freak would seem cool if only they were also a ninja!” (Quoted by Confucius or Splinter, I can’t remember which.)
Ninja Warriors (Arcade, SNES, Sega CD)
Cyborg ninjas with telescoping arms and blasters hidden in their elbows? Yes, please! There are many side scrolling ninja beat-em-ups in the world, but few as satisfying as Ninja Warriors, which let you choose from three different ninja terminator robots to kick the living shit out of anything that moves with. Everything about this game was awesome, as one would certainly expect from a game that combines two of the world’s coolest things: ninjas and homicidal robots.
Ninja Commando (Neo Geo)
Ninja Commando was a lot like regular Commando, except ten times sweeter on account of all the ninja-osity contained therein. One of the greatest top down shooters in the vein of “Mercs” or “Ikari Warriors”, you pick from three ninjas that go behind enemy lines to strike fear and panic into the hearts of your opponents before tearing the aforementioned hearts from their chests with your bare hands and driving your katana deep into the empty recess of their now empty rib cage. RAD!
Ninja Spirit (TurboGrafx-16)
Ninja Spirit for the TurboGrafx-16 was a lot like “Legend of Kage” on the NES, except better in every way. Ninja Spirit is like the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” of ninja games, allowing you to bound across treetops and rooftops with an effortless leap, all the while peeling off shurikens like a Vegas card dealer and delivering devastating mid-air blows with your sword. Ninja Spirit was one of the few ninja games that was both challenging and sort of relaxing at the same time.
Ninja Five-0 (GBA)
Ninja Five-0 tells the story of a ninja cop that is called upon to rescue the president from terrorists. I assure you I did not make that up. I don’t know where anyone ever got the idea that ninjas could be cops or vice versa, or that they would use grappling hooks like Bionic Commando to save hostages and take out mobsters, but god bless them for it. Ninja Five-0 was weird, fun, challenging, and a great homage to another awesome ninja game from the 8-bit era, “Shadow of the Ninja”.
Kid Nikki: Radical Ninja (NES)
Kid Nikki, on top of having the most amazing box art ever printed, was one of the first light-hearted ninja games to combine platforming and bizarre humor with hardcore ninja action. As the titular mullet-headed ninja dude, you must battle your way through a bunch of freaks to save your dream babe from their awful clutches. You basically can’t go wrong with a game that has the word “radical” in the title.
Bad Dudes (Arcade)
Are you a bad enough dude to save the president? In Bad Dudes, two ninjas in sweat pants, tank tops and fingerless gloves take on the DragonNinja clan in a bold attempt to rescue “President Ronnie” (Ronald Reagan was still president when this game came out, if you can believe that) so he can take them out for burgers and tell them how totally badical they are. Pretty much the best premise for any video game, ever. Um, why in the hell hasn’t anyone made an ironic remake of this game yet?