I think the furthest I ever got in Ninja Gaiden without using save states was 3-2 or 3-3. This game is brutal! There’s one jump in the level I got to that I just couldn’t figure out. You had to jump to a platform mostly off screen that was really small and an enemy was on it. If you fall, it’s a death. If you get right to the edge of your first platform, you can see the enemy and kill it but it’ll just respawn if you try and jump over so you have to kill it in the air. In the years since I’ve played it, I’ve seen tricks to complete this jump but I’ve never had the guts to go back and try again. I still consider finishing Ninja Gaiden to be one of the signs of a truly great gamer. I can at least say I finished the Xbox Ninja Gaiden 🙂
2/5 – Ninja Gaiden
Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s video game of the day.
Today’s game is notorious for being one of the most difficult games on the NES: Ninja Gaiden. Developed by Tecmo, Ninja Gaiden first released on the NES in 1988 over in Japan. It came to North America in 1989 but not to Europe until two years later in 1991. Interestingly, Ninja Gaiden has a different name in each region. In Japan, the game is known as Ninja Ryukenden which translates to Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword. In Europe, Ninja was seen as an offensive term so the game was renamed Shadow Warriors. Despite the game being made in Japan, the original working title for the game was Ninja Gaiden and this is the name the series would take worldwide after being remade on the Xbox in 2004.
Ninja Gaiden is a side-scrolling action-platformer where players take the role of Ryu Hayabusa, a modern-day ninja who is seeking revenge for the death of his father. His adventure takes him from Japan to America, following in his father’s footsteps. Ryu has his family’s Dragon Sword at his disposal as well as his Ninja agility, but he also receives numerous sub-weapons such as shurikens and fireballs to help him complete his mission.
While certainly remembered for its great difficulty, Ninja Gaiden was also renowned in its time for being the first game to use fully animated cutscenes on the NES. This was unique in a time where a game’s story was almost exclusively told through instruction manuals rather than in the game itself.
Originally, Ninja Gaiden was being developed in parallel with an arcade game of the same name. The arcade Ninja Gaiden was a side-scrolling beat-em-up similar to Double Dragon. While the NES version of Ninja Gaiden was being developed as its own game, and not a port of the arcade version, it was expected that the NES version would follow suit so it was a shock when the game’s director, Hideo Yoshizawa, changed influences from Double Dragon to a more Castlevania-style game.
Ninja Gaiden would go on to spawn numerous sequels including two more on the NES, several alternate takes on Sega consoles, and would later be rebooted on sixth and seventh generation consoles in the late 2000’s. Series protagonist Ryu Hayabusa would also become one of the main characters in the fighting game series, Dead or Alive, and has appeared in every entry of that franchise as well.
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