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Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Ninja Gaiden III The Ancient Ship of Doom.PNG
North American boxart, NES version
Developer(s) Tecmo
Publisher(s) Tecmo
Platform(s) NES, Lynx, Virtual Console
Release date(s) NES
JPN June 21, 1991
NA August 1991
NA 1993
EU 1993
Genre(s) Action platform game
Mode(s) Single player
Media Cartridge

Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, known in Japan as Ninja Ryūkenden III: Yomi no Hakobune (忍者龍剣伝III 黄泉の方舟 ?, lit. "Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword III: The Ark from Hades"), released in 1991, is the third installment of the Ninja Gaiden trilogy for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was later ported in 1993 to the Atari Lynx, and in 1995 to the Super Nintendo in Ninja Gaiden Trilogy. Unlike the previous installments, this game wasn't released in Europe for the NES, but it was for the Lynx, under its North American Ninja Gaiden title instead of the European Shadow Warriors labelling. The NES version of the game was released on the Virtual Console on February 18, 2008.



The first level boss, Mantis Warrior.

Set sometime between the events of the original Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos,[1] the plot explores the exploits of Ryu Hayabusa, who must clear his name after being framed for the apparent murder of his CIA partner, Irene Lew.

As Ryu makes his way to the last known location of Irene, he finds a dubious ally in Clancy, a former associate of Foster, the director of the CIA and a former acquaintance of Ryu. Apparently Foster and Clancy were involved in the "Biohazard Plan" experiments using paranormal energies from a trans-dimensional rift created when Ryu killed The Demon, within the ruins of Castle Rock Fortress. Using these energies, Foster created superhuman Bio-noids; one of which was a doppelgänger of Ryu Hayabusa. And it was this bio-noid that murdered Irene when she uncovered Foster's operation. Subsequently, Ryu would come face-to-face with his bio-noid doppelgänger; however, Ryu is bested in armed combat but is spared, as per the doppelgänger's orders from Foster.

Despite this setback, Ryu forges on and eventually arrives at his ultimate destination, the ruins of Castle Rock Fortress, where all of his questions would be answered. There, Foster divulges his agenda. Ryu is then forced into a stand-off with his doppelgänger when Irene resurfaces, having survived her near-death encounter, and rendezvouses with U.S. military to stage a raid on Foster's stronghold. Ryu then attacks his bio-noid doppelgänger a second time (this time in a transformed state), ending in the doppelgänger's destruction. However, with its destruction, Clancy steps in to usurp control of the ruins, to the surprise of Foster. Retreating through the trans-dimensional rift, Clancy eviscerates Foster, who is caught in the wake of his trans-dimensional shift. Ryu follows in pursuit, leaving Irene behind despite her insistence to follow.

Within the trans-dimensional ruins, Ryu is welcomed by a superhuman Clancy, transmutated by the life energies of the ruins. After a brief conversation, Ryu is warped to the ruins' lower levels where he contends with hordes of monstrous creatures. Coming face to face with Clancy once again, Ryu is enlightened to the true nature of the ruin: that they are in fact a super-dimensional warship. Using its enormous power, Clancy intends to reshape the world and establish a new world order, starting with genocide of humanity. Ryu enters one final confrontation with Clancy and emerges victorious. With Clancy's death comes the destruction of the "Ship of Doom". Ryu is warped back to normal dimensional space where he escapes the collapsing ruins with Irene.

Ryu battles across the fifth level.


The gameplay featured mostly the same mechanics as the first two games. It adds some new features, such as the ability for Ryu to grab onto horizontal surfaces, including pipes, vines, and the bottoms of some platforms. Also, new power-ups, such as a sword upgrade, were added, with other existing power-ups being adjusted in behavior. The game notably eliminated cloning ability from the second game, as well as the infamous enemy respawning of its two predecessors.

The North American version was the first in the series which did not provide unlimited chances to continue after a Game Over; the player is instead limited to five continues.

Version differences

The North American and Japanese versions of the NES game had several differences which greatly affected the difficulty of the game. Most significantly, the amount of damage Ryu received from being hit by enemies was doubled in the North American version. Also, the Japanese version boasted a password save feature, unlimited continues, and would restart players within areas after losing lives, rather than returning them to the beginning of areas as in the North American version.

In an interview, one of the game's designers revealed that the Japanese version was intended to be easier for the average gamer to finish, whereas its predecessors had reputations as "maniac games." The North American version was ordered by Tecmo executives to be made more difficult however, as they believed North American players desired harder games.[1]

The Super Nintendo version of Ninja Gaiden III, included in the game Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, also featured differences from the NES versions. The graphics were retouched with slightly improved color depth, but the parallax scrolling backgrounds were eliminated. The game used a password system, and adopted the unlimited continues and more forgiving damage rate of the original Japanese version. Also, the music was significantly remixed, with some tracks being replaced entirely.



The game was generally well received by critics, but was released in the twilight of the NES's popularity, and was not as successful commercially as previous games in the series.

When reviewing the Virtual Console version of Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, IGN noted that the core gameplay elements of the series were found in this installment, but some aspects of the controls and power-up functions received overhauls.[2] The difficulty was regarded as "ridiculous", particularly based on unusual level design and the fact that "standard, basic enemies take off huge chunks of Ryu's health".[2] The publication also felt that the storyline was odd, claiming that it began "compellingly" but its conclusion is affected by unbalanced power-ups and "weird science-fiction themes about bionics and clones".[2]


  1. ^ a b "Interview with Masato Katou". Hardcore Gaming 101. November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 8, 2009.  
  2. ^ a b c Lucas M. Thomas (2008-02-28). "Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom Review". IGN. Retrieved 2008-10-01.  

External links


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

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Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom

Developer(s) Tecmo
Publisher(s) Tecmo
Release date June 21, 1991 (JP)
August 1991 (NA)
Genre Beat 'em up
Mode(s) Single player
Age rating(s)
Platform(s) NES, Lynx
Media Cartridge
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

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
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