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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 TurboGrafx-16 Kill the ninjas
Ninja Gaiden TurboGrafx-16 The end boss of level 1
Ninja Gaiden NES The end of the opening sequence
Ninja Gaiden NES Starting out in stage 3-1 against a pleasant lake and forest backdrop

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! NES Satoshi Kunsai (2074)
Amazing and hard as hell... NES Ivan Obretenov (33)
Damn cool, but the gameplay isn't very good NES Bregalad (969)

Critic Reviews

Digital Press - Classic Video Games NES Sep 27, 2005 9 out of 10 90
Mean Machines NES Jul, 1991 90 out of 100 90 NES Aug 10, 2011 18 out of 20 90
Retro Game Reviews NES Sep 01, 2015 8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars 80
Nintendo Life Wii May 15, 2007 8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars 80
Commodore User Arcade Jan, 1989 8 out of 10 80
Nintendo Magasinet (Sweden) NES Aug, 1991 4 out of 5 80
The Video Game Critic NES Jul 27, 2004 B- 67
Digitally Downloaded Nintendo 3DS Nov 21, 2012 2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars2.5 Stars 50
Video Games TurboGrafx-16 Apr, 1992 2 out of 5 40


Topic # Posts Last Post
Arcade version 3 FatherJack (62724)
Mar 22, 2014
Trivia for the game. 8 Lain Crowley (6783)
Sep 15, 2012
Pending correction 2 Terok Nor (32119)
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.)
Contributed to by Michael Cassidy (21113), CrankyStorming (3002), Dwin1118 (34), Kam1Kaz3NL77 (442114), Kabushi (257509) and gamewarrior (5042)
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