Ninja Gaiden (NES)

Game Review

Ninja Gaiden Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Frustratingly fun

Gamers nowadays might be more familiar with the rebooted series, but now you've got yet another chance to experience the original NES Ninja Gaiden, the game that started it all.

A classic 2D action platformer, you assume the role of Ryu Hayabusa as he seeks to kill Jaquio, who murdered his father. This original is frequently remembered for its incredible difficulty, which might turn some people off, but the game can be conquered with perseverance. Ryu moves rather swiftly for an 80's game character, and can nimbly cling to walls and hop off, swing his sword and throw a variety of special attacks at enemies.

The enemies come in packs, though, and if you're not careful you'll be knocked around until your demise. Every hit knocks you back in addition to dealing damage, and with the large amounts of precarious platforming sections the game offers, expect to hear the death jingle many times; if you were wondering why people hate birds in videogames, then this one will gladly teach you!

Thankfully, Tecmo realized that this was going to be pretty tough to beat, so you've got unlimited continues and can resume from various checkpoints in the event of a game over, with the exception of the final boss — if you die against him you've got to start the entire level again.

But, despite the difficulty, Ninja Gaiden is still a great game. Once you really get the hang of things you can gracefully run and jump through every stage, avoiding near death experiences left and right and beating all of the bosses with ease, which feels very rewarding and truly makes you feel like a ninja.

It's also notable for being one of the first games to have a fairly deep storyline, with lengthy cutscenes between each stage telling a (by today's standards) fairly cliché, but nonetheless interesting tale. Both these cutscenes and the game itself feature some top notch 8-bit graphics, and are accompanied by one of the catchiest soundtracks on NES, full of fast-paced action songs that get you pumped, even after every death.


It's one of the toughest NES games out there, but if you consider yourself a retro master (or just good at using save states), you have to beat Ninja Gaiden to prove your worth; thanks to the 3DS VC you can now get plenty of practice on the go. It can feel a bit unfair at times, but nonetheless, the original Ninja Gaiden is a classic that everybody ought to play at least once.

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User Comments (38)



Tsuchiya said:

I love it I really do but it looks terrible on the 3DS.
It just doesn't look right on the screen. The black edges of the screen and the black bar at the top make it look minuscule.



WaveGhoul said:

an 8? This desserves no less than a 9. NL just committed a crime.
Ryu Hayabusa would be ashamed. tisk tisk*



DrKarl said:

The arcade game is really "the game that started it all." I actually played the arcade game first, and was disappointed that you couldn't hang from the sign in level 1 and kick the Jasons in the NES version.



MrWezzle said:

Yeah, it's totally beatable without the save states. I've done it at least twice, and I don't consider myself a master or anything. Now Ghosts n' Goblins, that's another story...



ei8htbit said:

Time to get an XL;)

You are right though, the launch 3DS does not do well for VC games at all, everything feels scaled down too small.. I find the XL helps solve this to some degree just because of the extra real estate..



Auracle said:

This actually sounds better than I expected it to be. I might actually try this sometime.



Ryno said:

I cringe at the thought of playing this awesome game on a portable.



WaveGhoul said:

I cringe at the thought of playing 'any' NES game on a portable.
I tried out Punch-Out!!, Metroid and Super Mario Bros. on my 3DS and I honestly couldn't stand it. It doesn't whatsoever capture the magic of playing these classics on the big screen.



Tsuchiya said:


I totally agree.
It is nice for younger gamers and newcomers to have them there though. Shame they look awful. This is the worst looking of the NES bunch so far.
But it is still a classic even if Dr. Salvadors been at it.



julianozuca said:

"The game can be conquered with perseverance". No, it can't. -.- The last section/boss is un-beat-a-ble. lol It almost made me cry when it was released--actually it still does that to me.



DrKarl said:

@julianozuca That last boss was way too much for me too. I gave up after a couple days of trying over and over and over.

Once I saw the GameCenter CX episode for Ninja Gaiden, I knew that I made the right decision.



Gridatttack said:

I remember that almost impossible part in one of the last stages, in which you have to jump and land on a tiny platform with the ghost-like enemy and birds everywhere. Just be sure to have the shuriken that returns to you weapon and you'll be fine.
Its a great game but sometimes its frustrating.



idork99 said:

To those of you cringing at the thought of playing NES classics on a portable, I understand your point. But I guess to each their own as I absolutely love the thought of playing classic games on a portable. Probably because I prefer portable systems to home consoles. With that said, I'll definitely be downloading this one when it comes to the NA eShop.

EDIT: @Tsuchiya I totally agree with you now. This is the worse looking NES game for the 3DS. The game just came out two days ago in the NA eShop (on the 13th of December 2012) so I finally had a chance to play it. The background looks horrible when your character is moving. But this is the only NES title on the 3DS that I've had this kind of issue.



TheDreamingHawk said:

Ugh... Now I want this more.


Honestly, you guys need to contact one of them A.S.A.P. In order to see what's up.



NImH said:

This game is a favorite, but it is notoriously frustrating! Even with the save states, it's relentless at a certain point. Truth be told though, never in my life have I felt like more of a ninja than when I beat this game back in the day!



Nekketsu3D said:

This is a game in letters, perfect music, difficulty, excellent control, enemies, story ... Ninja Gaiden Nes is far from perfect in low memory and Nintendo USA, to vary sleeping in game releases as good as this.



Urbanhispanic said:

I have this for my NES in the original cartridge and box. It's super hard but if you keep at it, you will eventually beat it. I LOVE this game.



Tasuki said:

@Dreaming_Hawk: Why is it whenever a game doesnt get released by a certain date the company is liars? Games get delayed all the time for various reasons. Just take a chill pill.

This game is difficult. It took me using a Game Genie back in the NES days even though I hated the idea of them, but I just had to see the ending lol.



Slapshot said:

I can literally destroy this game! Haha I picked it up a few months back (once again) and made it most of the way through the game before I finally died.



TheDreamingHawk said:

@Tasuki Delays are fine, but this is a VC game and it was given a solid date. If it was simply listed "Q4" It would be fine. The point is, I'm mad at NOA for giving us a solid date and not releasing it on that day, and by not telling us why it vanished/delayed.



Savino said:

Love the game, love the 3DS... but they werent made for each other.
Lucky I have my NES and the cartridge here!

And no, I will not play this monster again!



KAHN said:

i play all my VC without the save feature. it helps me stop complaining about my own problems when everyone else has problems bigger than, "i can't beat (NAME) in (GAME TITLE)".



Dreadjaws said:

I don't know why so many complains about VC games on the 3DS. I think they look better than ever! Maybe you people have sight problems. I think higher resolution games look worse on smaller screens, since they're much more detailed and you might miss stuff.

But these games? They look and play great.



LinkSword said:

I am now playing through the first one, and I'm on Stage 5-2 at the moment.

I love the game. The controls are so much better than what the NES Castlevania games have me used to, so even if it's hard at places it's not even half as frustrating.

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