Codex Gamicus
This article is about the Ninja Gaiden arcade game. For other games of the same name, see Ninja Gaiden.

Ninja Gaiden
Ninja Gaiden arcade flyer.png
Developer(s) Tecmo
Publisher(s) Publisher Missing
Designer Designer Missing
Engine Engine Missing
status Status Missing
Release date Arcade
February 1989 (JP)
October 1988 (NA)
February 1989 (EU)
Virtual Console
July 28, 2009 (JP)
December 21, 2009[1] (NA)
November 13, 2009 (PAL)
Genre Beat 'em up
Mode(s) Two-player, Co-op
Age rating(s) ESRB: E10+
PEGI: 12
Platform(s) Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Atari Lynx, DOS, ZX Spectrum, Virtual Console
Arcade system Arcade System Missing
Media Media Missing
Input 8-way joystick, 3 buttons
Requirements Requirements Missing
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

Ninja Gaiden, known in Japan as Ninja Ryūkenden (忍者龍剣伝?, "Ninja Dragon Sword Legend") and in Europe as Shadow Warriors, is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up originally released by Tecmo as a coin-operated video game. It was first released in North America in 1988 and in Japan and Europe in 1989. The Ninja Gaiden arcade game was produced and released almost simultaneously with its home console counterpart for the NES, although they're both different games with only a few similarities.[2]

Home versions of the Ninja Gaiden arcade game were released in Europe under the Shadow Warriors title in 1990 by Ocean Software for five different computer platforms (Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC) and in North America for IBM PC by Hi-Tech Expressions. An Atari Lynx version was also released The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden is also included as a hidden bonus game in Ninja Gaiden Black for the Xbox in 2004.[3] The arcade game was published as a Virtual Console game for the Wii in 2009.



The game's first stage. It bears a strong resemblance to the first stage of Ninja Gaiden (NES)

The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden is closer to the beat 'em up genre, similar in style to Double Dragon. The game stars a nameless ninja on a quest to defeat an evil cult led by a descendant of Nostradamus who seeks to fulfill his end of the world prophecies.[4] Upon starting the game, the player is greeted by the phrase "NINJA IN USA". The game can be played alone or cooperatively with a second player (who plays as a red-clad ninja).

In this game, Ryu Hayabusa must trek across the United States to fight several enemies along the way. The player must also use ninja tactics to get through some areas. For example, in some levels, the player must perform acrobatic stunts to get from one area to another via overhanging lights or poles. Also, from time to time, the player must perform a Tightrope Walk across poles, which requires the use of the button on top of the joystick.

This game is mostly remembered for two specific reasons. One reason is it's considerable difficulty, as several enemies can be on screen at the same time, making it difficult to move. Consequently, if the player is caught between several enemies, this will drain the player's lifebar very quickly.

The other reason is its morbid, gruesome, and James Bond-esque continue screen, where Ryu is tied to a table thrashing his head violently while a giant circular saw is being lowered towards him and what appears to be a crowd of enemies is watching in excitement in the background. If the player does not continue within the 10 second countdown, the screen fades to red, Ryu cries out in agony, and the words "GAME OVER" appears followed by dramatic music. In the NES version, the game over screen did not feature Ryu being tied down on a table below a buzzsaw. Instead, the screen simply cuts to black and "GAME OVER" appears with no music heard.

The Game consist locations scenes of Americas in Las Vegas Nevada, North Carolina, Los Angele's ,Grand Canyon, Brooklyn NY, an a Mysterious round. A Rygar spray painting logo can been seen on round 5 Transcontinental Station. A Monolith of Rygar with throwing star and head ring can be seen on round 6 final. The tattoo on the Sumo's back reads MAHJONG. The Wrestlers boss resemble of Hawk and Animal The Road Warriors resembling a little more of Hawk than animal which were Professional Wrestlers well known in the 80s. Road Warriors were in Japan between 1985-1990. Plaza Hotel & Casino can be seen in round 3 Las Vegas.

Version differences[]

Regional differences[]

  • At the fourth stage, in the Grand Canyon, Ninja Gaiden (North American version) and Ninja Ryukenden (Japanese version) feature totally different background music. There are also some notable differences between the other stages' same music numbers of the two versions.
  • In Ninja Gaiden (North American version), the standard enemy who fights with sticks does not need to do a three-hit combo, as he does in Ninja Ryukenden (Japanese version), to take off one of the player's life squares, only requiring one or two hits to do so. And at the final stage of the North American version, almost all standard enemies, and all bosses, only have to hit the player once to take off one or two of his life squares.
  • In Ninja Ryukenden, a digitized voice shouts the game's title on the "stage clear" screen.

Virtual Console[]

This game has been ported to the Nintendo Wii as a downloadable Virtual Console Arcade game. However this contains several differences.

  • The boss music in Stages 2 and 5 has been omitted from this version (due to the similarity to Black Sabbath's Iron Man), in turn the regular background music will remain playing even after the bosses appear (which would normally prompt the quick music switch)
  • The use of the Star of David in the game's imagery (such as the rug at the end of Stage 4) was edited out.

See also[]


  1. 500th Downloadable Wii Game Makes for a Smashing Holiday Season. Nintendo of America (21 December 2009). Retrieved on 22 December 2009
  2. Hardcore Gaming 101 editorial staff. Ninja Gaiden at Hardcore Gaming 101 - Interview with Masato "RUNMAL" Kato. “Kato: Both (the arcade and NES versions of Ninja Gaiden) where developed side by side on the same floor, at the same time. However, we only shared the same title, while each team developed their game as they pleased.”
  3. Brightman, James (February 10, 2004). Ninja Gaiden Extras Confirmed...Again. GameDaily. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007 Retrieved on 2006-08-23
  4. "紹介 - 忍者龍剣伝" (in Japanese). Gamest (Vol. 29): p. 103. February 1989.