Ninja Gaiden

Delights... Camera... ACTION!

Ninja Gaiden Title Screen

Game Specs for Ninja Gaiden

NOTE: When possible, the game's official manual or official documentation from the game maker's company or Nintendo is used — with spelling or terminology presented as is, despite some translation errors.

SPOILER ALERT: Some of the categories below may have a question mark to conceal important or secret revelations in the game. If you would like to see the unknown revealed, a rollover option or external link will be attached to the question mark.

Title: Ninja Gaiden
Ninja Gaiden
Company: Tecmo
  • (Story) Sakurazaki
  • (Screenplay) Sakurazaki, Faw
  • (Image Illust.) Runmaru
  • (Art Works) Runmaru, Parco, Uma, Naga, Wild Tagou, Niwakamaru
  • (Program Works) Madoka Southernami, Masita
  • (Assistant) Nosuke
  • (NES Translator) Kevin & Daniel
  • (Director) Sakurazaki
  • (Sound Design) More Yamasan, B. B, Hakage
Year: 1989
Release Date: March 1989
System: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Genre: Action, Platformer
Ratings/Suitable For Age Group?: E for Everyone Rating from ESRB
E for Everyone (Mild Violence)

Occult (Scary imagery and allusion to demons - especially to younger audiences), Animated Blood
Arcade Version?: Yes with major differences (Essentially two unique games.)

Picture of the marquee from the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden.
Picture of the marquee from the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden.

Picture of an arcade cabinet of Ninja Gaiden.
Picture of an arcade cabinet of Ninja Gaiden.

Port To Other Game Systems: Included in NES Classic Edition (Direct Port of NES),

Picture of the Nintendo NES Classic Edition console.

on the Wii U (NES Version) as a digital download,

Picture of the Wii U console by Nintendo.

on the (Nintendo Switch) Nintendo Switch Online Service,

Picture of Nintendo Switch Online Service logo.

and also, included in the SNES title, Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, as a revamped update of the NES version.

Picture of Ninja Gaiden Trilogy on the SNES.

As a side-note, the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden can be digitally-downloaded to the Nintendo Switch, as well.

Picture of Ninja Gaiden (Arcade Version) for digital download on Nintendo Switch.

Part of Franchise:
  • Ninja Gaiden (Arcade Version that is a different game from NES version)

  • Original title (first) in Ninja Gaiden series (NES)

  • Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword Of Chaos (NES)

  • Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship Of Doom (NES)

  • Ninja Gaiden Trilogy (SNES) [included within this revamped, upgraded trilogy]

  • Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

  • Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (Nintendo DS)

  • Reinvented in newer Ninja Gaiden series and Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z in later generation systems (Xbox, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, etc.).
Rarity/Availability: Included in NES Classic Edition (Direct Port of NES),

Picture of the Nintendo NES Classic Edition console.

on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
(as a download from Nintendo eShop),

Picture of Virtual Console logo.

and Nintendo Switch Online Service.

Picture of Nintendo Switch Online Service logo.

Cartridge becoming harder to find (at least, in the St. Louis, MO metropolitan area).

Add'l Game System Peripheral Needed To Play?: N/A
1 or 2 Player: 1 Player
Number of Reserve Players: Start with 3 Players total
1-UP's: Ninja Gaiden 1UP
Life Meter: Ninja Gaiden Life Meter
Yes — divided up into 16 bars.
Password: No
Battery: No
Continue?: Yes - Unlimited
Perspective/Orientation Gameplay: 2D (some pseudo-3D areas) and Horizontal/Vertical (Retraceable/Freedom to Backtrack)
Number of Levels: 6 Acts in all, 20 Areas
Checkpoints?: Yes, at beginning of a Stage
Save points?: No
Uninterrupted Play?: Upon death of Ryu, play stops and resumes from last checkpoint
Internal Map(s)?: No
Score?: Yes
Difficulty Settings: No
Time Limit?: Yes
Hero(es)/Heroine(s): Ryu HayabusaRyu HayabusaRyu HayabusaRyu Hayabusa
Ryu Hayabusa
Sidekick(s)/Cast?: Irene Lew, Walter Smith, Foster, Jaquio (Guardia le Mieux), Bloody Malth, Masked Devil
  •   Sword (default)
  •   Throwing Star
  •   Windmill Throwing Star
  •   The Art Of The Fire Wheel
  •   Jump & Slash Technique
  •   Invincible Fire-Wheel
Items: Bonus points
  •     Spiritual Strength
    (Red is worth 10 points, Blue is worth 5 points ... allows Ryu to use Weapons)

  •   Time Freeze
    (stops enemies on screen for 5 seconds, while you get to keep special weapon from Weapons section above), while enemies freeze)

  •   Restoring Physical Strength
    (adds 6 cells/bars to your life meter)
Power-Downs: No
Main Enemy: Ninja Gaiden's Main Enemy... Revealed
Spoiler alert! Click here to see
Person/Place Being Saved: N/A
Objective/Goal: Vengeance for father's death
Ending?: Yes
Secret Code(s)?: Yes
Stage Select: No
Invincibility: No
Extra Players: No
Continues: N/A
Sound Test: Ninja Gaiden's Sound Test
Yes. Click here to see how to access it.
Additional Secret Codes: ?
Trivia/Little Known Facts:
    Ninja Gaiden's Opening Scene

    Ninja Gaiden's Ending Scene

  • Ninja Gaiden on the NES is probably the earliest and best executed video game to utilize cinematics and cutscenes effectively to flesh out the storyline. Tecmo referred to its groundbreaking title with superlatives, like "Cinema Display (TECMO'S unique system)" and "Tecmo Theater Games" to further reinforce the point.

    Ninja Gaiden's alternate name in Europe - Shadow Warriors   Ninja Gaiden's alternate name in Europe - Shadow Warriors

  • The title, Ninja Gaiden, was renamed Shadow Warriors in parts of Europe, due to censorship. Ninja were considered a taboo in some regions, thus the name change.

  • Aurally-unusual in that when Ninja Gaiden is paused and unpaused, the background music starts over again.

  • Ninja Gaiden was featured along with a number of other games from similarly-high profile series of the day (Super Mario Bros., The Legend Of Zelda, Mega Man, StarTropics, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Castlevania) in a special gaming guide.

    Officially released by Nintendo, the NES Game Atlas, was printed in 1991. The publication, replete with road signs on its cover, dissected 18 of the best titles the NES had to offer at the time, and created intricately-detailed maps and tips for each game.

    Ninja Gaiden was highlighted and mapped out in the NES Game Atlas.

  • Ninja Gaiden — along with a number of other popular franchises, including the Sonic The Hedgehog,Mega Man (Click here to read our Man Of Steel Or Near-Human Robot? Mega Man review.), Paperboy and Double Dragon series — was licensed for the portable Tiger Handheld systems.

    Ninja Gaiden was converted into a Tiger Electronics LCD Handheld, loosely-based off of the NES title.
    Ninja Gaiden was converted into a Tiger Electronics LCD Handheld, very loosely-based off of the NES title.

    In the 1990s, the Tiger Electronics LCD Handhelds were monochromatic, liquid crystal display games that animated on top of a stationary backdrop. These handhelds were similar, in some respects, to the Nintendo Game Boy, wristwatch games or Tamagotchi digital pets even.

    However, they lacked the sophistication and solid gameplay of the original source, due to basic, primarily-stationary graphics; limited controls and range of movements; repetitious play; lack of change of stages or variation of play; vague instructions and the simple audio bleeps and blips associated with the devices.

  • Ninja Gaiden — along with a number of other classic hits on the NES, including Bionic Commando, Blaster Master and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Click here to read our review here.) — provided the source material for a series of short novelizations known as The World Of Power series.

    Targeted to and created for younger audiences, these publications in the early 1990s hit school book fairs and populated order forms. Printed by Scholastic Inc., this paperback was written by author, F.X. Nine. It first landed on shelves on July 1, 1990.

    Ninja Gaiden was novelized into a book for young NES fans in the 1990s.

    Because of the youthful readership, tamer stories were crafted — loosely-based around the plot and characters. (Note the missing dagger in Ryu Hayabusa's fist on the book's cover.)



This area will feature a rotating banner for advertisements. - your return to retro video game reviews and more

If you'd like to advertise on our site, please contact us here. Think big, dream bigger!

We are interested in what our visitors have to say. Please click here to share/e-mail any comments,
suggestions or feedback.

Being the social butterfly that we are, you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and watch our video list on YouTube! (Soon, we'll be adding a blog with polls.) - your return to retro video game reviews and more