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Ninja Gaiden begins with a cinematic animation in which two ninjas duel to the death and one goes down. It is then revealed that the doomed ninja is the father of Ryu Hayabusa. When Ryu learns of this, he embarks on a quest to find out who killed his father and why. This quest takes him to America to find an archaeologist with whom his father was working. From there, Ryu becomes embroiled in an evil, supernatural conspiracy involving a villain named Jaquio who has plans to use an ancient castle and some relics to unleash a terrifying evil upon the world.

Ninja Gaiden is a side scrolling game where Ryu the ninja can run, jump and slash with his ninja sword. He can also attach to any vertical surface. Power-ups that allow Ryu to toss fireballs and ninja stars as well as perform other feats are scattered throughout the landscape.

Ryu will battle through urban city settings, forests, jungles, snow covered castles, underground railroads and ancient castles. A major feature in Ninja Gaiden are the cinematic scenes – sometimes fullscreen – through which the storyline unfolds.


Ninja Gaiden NES Facing off with the stage 5 boss -- Bloody Malth
Ninja Gaiden NES European title screen
Ninja Gaiden NES Stage 4-1 begins in the deep jungle
Ninja Gaiden NES Inside the tower in stage 6-2

Promo Images

Ninja Gaiden Screenshot
Ninja Gaiden Screenshot
Ninja Gaiden Screenshot
Ninja Gaiden Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "忍者龍剣伝" -- Japanese spelling
  • "Shadow Warriors: Ninja Gaiden" -- UK/Australian title
  • "Shadow Warriors" -- European title
  • "Ninja Ryukenden" -- Japanese title
  • "Dragon Ninja" -- Originally planned US NES title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Slice and dice! Ninja know no fear! Satoshi Kunsai (2074) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
Amazing and hard as hell... Ivan Obretenov (33) 4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars
Damn cool, but the gameplay isn't very good Bregalad (968) 3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

Critic Reviews

The Retro Spirit Dec 06, 2012 6 out of 6 100
Mean Machines Jul, 1991 90 out of 100 90
Nintendo Land 2003 89 out of 100 89
1UP! Feb 01, 2008 87 out of 100 87
Questicle.net Dec 04, 2012 B+ 83
Classic-games.net Jan 23, 2017 8 out of 10 80
Realm of Gaming Jun 06, 2013 8 out of 10 80
RetroGame Man Sep 10, 2018 7 out of 10 70
Total!! UK Magazine Mar, 1992 47 out of 100 47
Game Zero Jun, 1995 Unscored Unscored


Topic # Posts Last Post
Arcade version 3 FatherJack (62720)
Mar 22, 2014
Trivia for the game. 8 Lain Crowley (6782)
Sep 15, 2012
Pending correction 2 Terok Nor (33133)
Oct 25, 2010


Arcade version differences

The NES version, while starring the same main character ( Ryu Hayabusa), bears little or no connection to the original arcade Ninja Gaiden; nonetheless, some aspects of it were carried over to the NES title. The first stage is a vague adaptation of the arcade's first stage, the opening cutscenes are also somewhat similar. Both games feature Jason Voorhees look-alikes and, moreover, Bloody Malth from the NES game is reminiscent of the coin-op's final boss.


  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • December 1989 - Best Nintendo Game of the Year
    • December 1989 - Best Ending in a Video Game
  • Game Informer Magazine
    • August 2001 (Issue 100) - voted # 93 in the Top 100 Games of All Time poll
Information also contributed by PCGamer77

Related Web Sites

  • Howard & Nester do Ninja Gaiden (A regular feature in Nintendo Power magazine, Howard & Nester was a comic strip about two game whizzes who would one-up each other, while disclosing hints and tips, in the settings of various recently-released games for the NES platform. In the May/June 1989 two-page installment, they reveal the location of a 1-Up.)
  • OC ReMix Game Profile (Fan remixes of music from Ninja Gaiden.)
  • The Ninja Gaiden Homepage (Perhaps the biggest source of information on Ninja Gaiden, which has music, fan fiction, and other game-related information.)
Dwin1118 (34) added Ninja Gaiden (NES) on Oct 03, 2002
Other platforms contributed by Michael Cassidy (21109), CrankyStorming (3001), Kam1Kaz3NL77 (495347), Kabushi (257783) and gamewarrior (5040)
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