The Gratuitous Rainbow Spectrum

Stone Age Countdown: Top 5 Ninja Gaidens

Stone Age Countdown: Top 5 Ninja Gaidens

Kris Randazzo
4 minute read

There are a lot of great Ninja Gaiden games, but there are also a lot of great games called Ninja Gaiden. So we're counting down the best of them!

Hey look! Flash Carts and stuff for various systems with Ninja Gaiden games on them!

EverDrive N8: EverDrive GG: Master EverDrive:

Additional music by Banjo Guy Ollie:

Gameplay footage from World of Longplays:

Xbox Longplay [004] Ninja Gaiden Played by: RickyC. NES Longplay [029] Ninja Gaiden Played By: Ultima.  Game Gear Longplay [015] Ninja Gaiden Played by JohnX895. Arcade Longplay [343] Shadow Warriors Played by: SCHLAUCHI. Game Boy Longplay [183] Shadow Warriors Played by: JagOfTroy. Master System Longplay [016] Ninja Gaiden Played by: BimmyLee83

Transcript of the video

#5 Game Gear

Ninja Gaiden for Game Gear is a really cool game. Not necessarily a “good” one, but a cool one. While the Game Boy enjoyed an original Ninja Gaiden game in the form of Ninja Gaiden Shadow, that game started life as a port of Shadow of the Ninja. This game’s Ninja Gaiden through and through, and at first glance, it’s pretty great. OF course, playing it quickly shows off that the graphics look less good in motion than they do in screenshots, the controls are kind of bleh, and the story is bananas, and not in the fun sort of way the NES games were known for. It’s alright overall, but not quite up to par with the other Ninja Gaidens on the list.

#4 Arcade

This is where it all began. The first Ninja Gaiden game wasn’t the NES classic, but this game which is a pretty different game altogether. This is a fairly slow-paced brawler, which was the style at the time. On the surface it seems fairly unremarkable by beat em up standards, but it’s actually pretty darn fun to play. The combat feels good, and the enemy designs are pretty wild. It’s also got a completely bananas storyline, but it definitely fits more into the endearingly crazy category than its Game Gear counterpart. It isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s still a good time.

#3 Master System.

This is a really good looking game. The Master System was a very capable machine, moreso in a lot of ways than the NES. But while this game looks the part, it doesn’t really play quite as well as those NES classics. It features advanced moves like clinging to ceilings later found in Ninja Gaiden III for NES, and plenty of cutscenes too, but nothing about it feels anywhere near as polished as you may want it to. The controls are a little too loose, the cutscenes aren’t anywhere near as stylish as the NES games, and the environments are just kind of there. That said, this game kind of rules. Just because it doesn't’ live up to the NES games, doesn’t mean it still isn't a really fun game.

#2 Xbox

The franchise’s proper reboot in 2004 was a success in basically every regard. It was (and still is) a visual stunner, showing off the overwhelming power of the Xbox for its day. Ryu Hayabusa’s redesign was super slick, and the combat was incredibly well done. Really the only stumbling points in the game are the story and some of the um… questionable character designs. But that stuff is easy enough to ignore when the gameplay is this flippin good. Mot would argue the re-release Ninja Gaiden Black was the superior game, but this one in its original format is still absolutely awesome.

#1 NES

This game is pretty hard to top. Tecmo raised some eyebrows when they completely redesigned their coin op game Rygar for NES into a surprisingly robust search action type of game. But as great a job as they did on that game, their reinvention of Ninja Gaiden for NES was nothing short of jaw dropping. One of the first games to feature truly cinematic cutscenes, especially on home consoles, Ninja Gaden was a truly next level experience, particularly considering that this was 1989. Yes, it’s incredibly difficult. But everything else just screams video game classic with this one. IT’s phenomenal, and well deserving of the top spot. 

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