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An illustration depicting Ryu Hayabusa at the center, with images of events from the NES trilogy shown at the background.

Ninja Gaiden (NINJA 外伝?) is a series of video games by Tecmo featuring the ninja Ryu Hayabusa as its protagonist.

The series was originally known as Ninja Ryukenden (忍者龍剣伝 Ninja Ryūkenden?, lit. "Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword") in Japan. The word "Gaiden" in the North American Ninja Gaiden title means "side-story" in Japanese, even though the Ninja Gaiden series is not a spinoff of a previous series. The original arcade version and first two NES games were released as Shadow Warriors in the PAL region.

The series gained popularity on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System for its tight action-platform gameplay, catchy music and, according to G4's X-Play, was also the first console game to have the story presented in cinematic cutscenes. The 8-bit trilogy was enhanced for the 16-bit Super NES in 1995. A new game, titled Ninja Gaiden, was released in 2004 as a 3D action game on the Xbox, developed by Team Ninja, the makers of Dead or Alive. The Ninja Gaiden franchise is well-known for its high degree of difficulty. Particularly the original NES version and the Xbox revival.


Arcade game

The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden (released in 1988 in North America and Europe, and 1989 in Japan) was a Double Dragon-style beat 'em up, in which the player controls a nameless blue ninja as he travels to various regions of the United States (such as San Francisco, New Jersey and Las Vegas) to defeat an evil cult led by a fictional descendant of Nostradamus, who is trying to personally fulfill his ancestor's prophecy of the rise of an evil king in 1999. The player has a variety of techniques, such as a flying neck throw and a back-flip.[1] The player can obtain power-ups by throwing enemies into background objects, such as street lights and dumpsters. The player fights primarily with his bare hands, although a sword can also be used for a limited time as a power-up; he can also use environmental objects as a prop from which he can deliver more powerful kicking attacks. Although the game takes place in different environments, there are primarily only five kinds of enemies, all of which appear in every level (although some levels have extra enemy types). The game is mostly remembered for its infamous continue screen (where the player character is tied to the ground underneath a descending circular saw).[2]

While the game itself bears little or no connection to the later NES trilogy or Xbox revival (although the Xbox version does feature the same flying neck throw from the arcade game), certain aspects of it were carried over to the first NES title. The first stage in the NES game is a loose adaptation of the first stage in the arcade game and the opening cutscene in the NES game vaguely resembles the intro in the arcade version. Both games also feature Jason Voorhees look-alikes and the final boss in the arcade game vaguely resembles Bloody Malth from the NES game.

An emulated version of the arcade game exists in the Xbox version's update, Ninja Gaiden Black, as a bonus feature.

NES trilogy

Ninja Gaiden I (SNES version)

Ninja Gaiden (NES)

The first Ninja Gaiden for NES was released in Japan on December 9, 1988, in the United States in March 1989, and in Europe on August 15, 1991. A ninja named Ryu Hayabusa finds a letter by his recently missing father, Ken, telling him to go to America and meet with an archaeologist Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith tells Ryu that two statues hidden by Ryu's father and the doctor have the power to end the world - if united. Ryu ends up in South America and battles Jaquio, an evil cult leader bent on reviving the ancient demon called "Jashin" and the one responsible for the attack on Ken Hayabusa.

The game introduced many of the series' staples, including the cinematic cutscenes, the boomerang-like Windmill Shuriken and the magical techniques called Ninja Arts (or Ninpo). Like all games in the series, it is noted for its difficulty, particularly the infamous Stage 6-2. To use the ninja arts, users had to collect power-ups. Each art used up a certain number of power-ups.

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

In the sequel, Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos, Ryu learns of a new villain named Ashtar, Emperor of Chaos and master to Jaquio. Ryu must rescue Irene Lew, a former CIA agent, from Ashtar and destroy the Dark Sword, a weapon of great power, forged from a bone of the demon, as the Dragon Sword is forged from a fang of a dragon. In the end, Ryu learns that Jaquio has been reborn to fulfill the destiny of Ashtar and the Dark Sword.

This game was the first to feature Spirit Clones, invincible copies of Ryu which would mimic his movements and fight by his side. Also introduced was the ability to scale walls without the need to constantly jump upwards.

Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom

The third game, titled Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, has what some considered to be a rather convoluted and, at times, contradictory story featuring rogue secret agents, genetic engineering and the eponymous warship. The gameplay is largely unchanged and more is revealed about Foster, the CIA agent who sent Ryu after Jaquio in the first game and his true intentions towards the ninja. This game is often considered to be the most difficult of the original trilogy, as continues are limited this time.

New innovations in the third installment included a sword extension power-up that increased the range of the player's attack until the end of the level or until death, new types of surfaces from which the player could hang, and automatically scrolling areas.

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy

Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (忍者龍剣伝 巴 Ninja Ryūkenden Tomoe?) is a 1995 SNES collection featuring all three games. Few improvements were made, but passwords were included and the cinematic sequences were improved. The graphics were retouched and the soundtrack was updated. The third game was also made more playable by reverting the difficulty level to that of the Japanese version, with infinite continues and more reasonable damage from enemy attacks. Unfortunately, the ports suffered from slowdown, unresponsive controls and no credits. Some graphical changes were made that removed parallax scrolling from the backgrounds of the levels. Other graphical changes were made to comply with Nintendo's "Family Friendly" censorship policy at the time (i.e. a pool of blood changed from red to green, and the removal of pentagrams). Fans also complained about the omission of some music tracks (including removing two pieces of music from Ninja Gaiden III), and replacing the use of the stage 1-1 music in the Ninja Gaiden II pursuit cutscenes with a repeating footstep sound). Conversely, a degree of censorship was actually removed from certain parts of the script (for example, Jaquio's "Argh! He's awake" is replaced with "Damn, he's awake."), though the retooled scripts also featured new typographical errors not found in the original translations.[citation needed] Despite these shortcomings, Ninja Gaiden Trilogy is a bit of a collectors item and sells for nearly $200 if still sealed.[1] Ninja Gaiden Trilogy was included as a bonus unlockable in Ninja Gaiden for Xbox.

Ninja Gaiden Shadow

Tecmo released a Game Boy version called Ninja Gaiden Shadow. It was actually a licensed edit of a proposed Shadow of the Ninja (Natsume) port. Because of this, it differs slightly from the console versions, but is still fairly faithful. Although it was released following the NES trilogy, the game is actually a prequel to the original game.

Sega games

Ninja Gaiden for the Sega Master System

Sega, under license from Tecmo, developed three games but ultimately released only two: one for the Master System and another for the Game Gear, both bearing the Ninja Gaiden title worldwide, marking the first time a game in the series was released with the Ninja Gaiden name in Japan and Europe.

Ninja Gaiden (Master System)

Released only in Europe and Brazil in 1992 for the Master System, this game has similar gameplay mechanics to the NES games, though it had much better graphics, faster gameplay and a few changes were made such as Ryu bouncing off walls instead of clinging to them. The game featured new storyline, characters and scenarios, not connected to any of the other Ninja Gaiden games.

Ninja Gaiden (Game Gear)

Released in Japan, North America and Europe in 1991 for the Game Gear, this game was not very close to any of the other Ninja Gaiden games. It featured a smaller screen size, bigger character sprites, slower game speed, and unlike the NES and Master System games which were more oriented to platforming action, this was more a linear side-scrolling game in the likes of the Shinobi series.

Ninja Gaiden (Beta) (Mega Drive/Genesis)

A Mega Drive/Genesis game was in development sometime in 1992. It was a beat 'em up in the light of such games as Double Dragon, somewhat inspired by the original arcade game, but featuring different levels, a new storyline unrelated to previous games, and the presence of cut-scenes similar to the ones from NES trilogy and the other games developed by Sega. The plot, however, involved a trip of Ryu Hayabusa to the United States in a similar fashion to the one of the arcade, with some of the enemies from that game also returning, like the Jason Voorhees look-alikes. Some locations such as a casino, the character would encounter such things as drug deals.[2]

The game was never released commercially due to poor development and bad pre-release critics.[citation needed] A near finished version of the game was leaked illegally through emulation, having all the levels available for playing but also featuring programming bugs like odd moving controls and unfinished game sections.

Other versions

There are also several other versions of the Ninja Gaiden games on other platforms.

The original Ninja Gaiden arcade game received several ports for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga and ZX Spectrum computers. The Amiga version in particular, retained almost all of the graphics and functionality of the original game, including the two-player cooperative gameplay and the introduction. All these versions, developed by Ocean Software, were only released in Europe as Shadow Warriors.

A PC (MS-DOS format) port of the original Ninja Gaiden was also developed by Hi Tech Expressions, this time for its release in North America as Ninja Gaiden, as opposed to the other computer versions. However, it featured shoddy gameplay and a low, 16 colour palette at best.

There is port of the first NES Ninja Gaiden developed by Hudson for the PC Engine and released only in Japan, although the game features an unlockable English mode (with a different translation than the NES game). Other differences include enhanced graphics, reworked music and rebalanced difficulty.

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos received computer ports developed by GameTek for the PC (MS-DOS format) and the Commodore Amiga, both for their release in North America. They featured a 256 colour palette (32 on Amiga) and were translated faithfully (though animation and movement were choppier) and also offered a save-and-load function, where your exact position in the game could be saved at any given moment.

Lastly, the arcade game Ninja Gaiden and the NES game Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, were both ported to the Atari Lynx handheld system. The original title was a solid port of the arcade title and is a more sought-after title for the Lynx. Part III was a very-faithful port of the NES game and is virtually identical from beginning to end, albeit with a more distorted-sounding soundtrack and slightly-jumbled visuals due to the lower in-game video resolution.

Post-2004 series

Ryu Hayabusa as seen in the 2004 Ninja Gaiden video game.

Ninja Gaiden

The series was revived after several years with the 2004 release of Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox. The title was developed over five years by developer Tomonobu Itagaki and his Team Ninja, and eventually released to high sales and critical acclaim. An upgraded edition with new content, modes and features came out the following year under the name Ninja Gaiden Black. Later, a remake was made on the PlayStation 3 as Ninja Gaiden Sigma on July 3, 2007. The latter version has its graphics reworked to high definition standards, and Rachel as a playable character.

The story along with its sequels Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and Ninja Gaiden 2 have been established as a retcon, taking place before the NES Ninja Gaiden Series. [3][4][5]. The main story of the game involves Ryu Hayabusa setting out on a quest to retrieve the Dark Dragon Blade from the hands of evil after most of his clan was wiped out.

Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword

IGN announced Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword will be released only for the Nintendo DS. The game is played in a diagonal top-down view with 3D graphics, and the player needs to hold the Nintendo DS sideways, like a book, as in Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword is played using full potential of the stylus. This is the reason why Team Ninja chose to make the game for the Nintendo DS, instead of the PSP. The story is set six months after the event of 2004's Ninja Gaiden. There is also a new playable female ninja character, Momiji. Both the Japanese release and the US release dates were March, 2008.[6]

Ninja Gaiden II

Ninja Gaiden II was the next game in the post-2004 series and set one year after the events in Ninja Gaiden (2004). It was published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360. The new features in the game were four difficulty levels, a regenerating health bar, upgraded graphics and enemy AI.[7] An enhanced version of Ninja Gaiden II was released for the PlayStation 3 and titled Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.[8]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  2. ^ Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1992, page 214
  3. ^ Mielke, James (2007-11-16). "Previews: Ninja Gaiden 2, "This is a new story starring Ryu Hayabusa. It takes place after Ninja Gaiden 1 for Xbox, and before the timeframe of the old Ninja Gaiden games on the NES."". 1Up. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  4. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (2008-05-22). "Ninja Gaiden 2 Interview, "Story chronologically as well, this takes place after the fist Ninja Gaiden for Xbox, then after this, the story for this game from a chronological stand point leads into the old Ninja Gaiden for the NES. I think we have a nice continuity there."". Video Gamer. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  5. ^ Luke, Anderson (2008-05-23). "Ninja Gaiden II: Q&A with Tomonobu Itagaki, "In story chronology as well, this takes place after the first Ninja Gaiden for Xbox and then after the story of this game it leads into the old NES ones, so I think we have a nice continuity there."". Gamespot. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  6. ^ IGN staff (2007-03-28). "Ninja Gaiden Coming to DS". IGN. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  7. ^ Matt Leone (2005-09-11). "Previews: Ninja Gaiden 2". Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  8. ^

External links

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Ninja Gaiden
Box artwork for Ninja Gaiden.
Developer(s) Tecmo
Publisher(s) Tecmo, Sega, Ocean
Release date(s)
Commodore 64/128, Amstrad CPC
Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Atari Lynx
Genre(s) Beat 'em up
System(s) Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Atari Lynx, DOS, ZX Spectrum
Mode(s) Single player, Multiplayer, Co-op
Series Ninja Gaiden
For NES version, see Ninja Gaiden (NES).
Ninja Gaiden marquee

Ninja Gaiden is an arcade game released in 1988 in North America by Tecmo. This game is known in Japan as Ninja Ryūkenden (忍者龍剣伝 Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword ?) and in Europe as Shadow Warriors.

In North America, it saw domestic releases on the Atari Lynx and PC (DOS based) as Ninja Gaiden. In Europe, it was released for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga and ZX Spectrum as Shadow Warriors. The Atari Lynx version was also released in Europe, keeping its North American name, Ninja Gaiden.

It also inspired an action platform game for the Nintendo Entertainment System bearing the same name.

Ninja Gaiden also appeared as an unlockable bonus feature on the Xbox game that relaunched the series in 2004.

The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden is closer to the beat 'em up genre, similar in style to Double Dragon. The game stars a nameless ninja on a quest to defeat an evil cult led by a (fictional) descendant of Nostradamus. Upon starting the game, the player is greeted by the phrase "NINJA IN USA." The game can be played alone or cooperatively with a second player (who plays as a red-clad ninja).

In this game, the player's character must trek across the United States to fight several enemies along the way. The player must also use ninja tactics to get through some areas. For example, in some levels, the player must perform acrobatic stunts to get from one area to another via overhanging lights or poles. Also, from time to time, the player must perform a Tightrope Walk across poles, which requires the use of the button on top of the joystick.

This game is mostly remembered for two specific reasons. One reason is the absurd difficulty, as several enemies can be on screen at the same time, making it difficult to move. The game also throws players back to certain "check-points" in a level when they die; forcing them, in some instances, to fight through immensely difficult scenarios again. The other reason is its morbid and gruesome continue screen, where the main character is tied to a table while a saw is being lowered towards him.

Table of Contents

Ninja Gaiden/Table of Contents


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

For information regarding the game Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox, see Ninja Gaiden (Xbox).
Ninja Gaiden

Developer(s) Tecmo
Publisher(s) Tecmo
Hudson Soft
Designer(s) Tomonobu Itagaki
Release date Famicom:
December 9, 1988 (JP)
March 1989 (NA)
August 15, 1991 (EU)
January 24, 1992 (JP)
Genre Beat 'em up
Mode(s) Single player
Age rating(s) N/A
Platform(s) Nintendo Entertainment System
Media HuCard
Input NES Controller
Turbo Pad
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

Ninja Gaiden (Shadow Warriors in Europe) is a spinoff of the original Ninja Gaiden arcade game.


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Dead or Alive series
Games in Series
Dead or Alive | Dead or Alive 2 | Dead or Alive 3 | Dead or Alive: Ultimate | Dead or Alive 4
Spin Offs:
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball |Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2 | Dead or Alive: Code Chronos
Ninja Gaiden series
Ninja Gaiden | Ninja Gaiden 2 | Ninja Gaiden 3 | Ninja Gaiden Shadow | Ninja Gaiden Black | Ninja Gaiden Sigma | Ninja Gaiden II| Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword
AyaneBass ArmstrongBaymanBrad WongChristie • Elliot • Gen Fu • HayateHelenaHitomi • Jann Lee • KasumiKokoroLa MariposaLei Fang • Leon • Nicole • Omega • Raidou • Ryu Hayabusa • Tengu • Tina • Zack • Bosses and Minor Characters
DOA: Dead or Alive

This article uses material from the "Ninja Gaiden" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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