Old ninja games are most often action-oriented and require players to react quickly and memorize the levels themselves and the relentlessly difficult boss battles. However, it is not uncommon in ninja-themed games to focus on sneaking around and sneaking up on opponents. On this top 10 list, we have included a few cult series, a few interesting, and lesser-known games, and some newer titles, but still in a retro style.
1. Shinobi series
Excluding spin-off titles, the Shinobi game series has a total of 12 titles.
Much like with Ninja Gaiden, it all started on arcade machines in 1987.
However, Shinobi records its first appearance on consoles (Sega Master System)
thanks to the faithful port of the arcade game.
This was followed by ports of originals to numerous other devices, and a whole wave of sequels that enriched the offer of games on almost all Sega consoles: Mega Drive, Master System, Game Gear, and Saturn.Each sequel brought quite big novelties that significantly affected the gameplay. As a good example of this, we can cite the canine partner in Shadow Dancer who uses a special command to instantly incapacitate the enemy.
Game Gear sequels borrowed elements from the Mega Man series and thus provided not only a free choice of level order but also additional characters who stood out with brand new weapons and Ninjutsu spells. Shinobi 3 brought significantly faster gameplay thanks to legendary ninja warrior Joe Musashi, who prepared new stunts for the final Mega Drive sequel.
The series introduced new protagonists through the next sequels on Saturn and
Playstation 2, and the latest sequel fans of the series were allowed to play
on the Nintendo 3DS. Although we can't call 3DS a retro device, the design of
this latest sequel on Nintendo's handheld is based on concepts from perhaps
the most popular Shinobi game - Shinobi 3: Return of the Ninja Master.
Although Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi have always been there somewhere and even technically contain an identical number of sequels, the Shinobi series wins thanks to a slightly earlier appearance on the market and more innovation in each subsequent sequel.It is an indisputable fact that Shinobi 3D iterations are considered somewhat weaker than 3D iterations within the Ninja Gaiden series, but at least we can say that the Shinobi series has had a lot more interesting the last sequel for now.
2. Ninja Spirit
A slightly different ninja game appeared on the market in 1988 on arcade machines. This 2D shooter has experienced several ports on several popular platforms and is certainly the most memorable remaining 1990 version for the TurboGrafx-16 console.
Excellent gameplay, weapons, a slightly creepy atmosphere, simple but responsive controls are the characteristics that marked this title and immortalized it as one of the most desirable games on the TurboGrafx-16 platform. Ninja Spirit is available on modern platforms as part of Hamster’s Arcade Archives (ACA) edition.
3. Blue Shadow
With classic ninja action, beautiful eight-bit visuals, and a memorable musical background, Blue Shadow has remained in our memory as one of the most fun experiences with the NES console, which also provided the possibility of cooperative play for two, which is not often seen in old ninja games.
4. Ninja Cop
Ninja Cop (in the US market Ninja Five-O) came out in 2003 and is available exclusively on Game Boy Advance. Too bad, because this game, despite very good reviews, did quite poorly in the market, and is now considered one of the rarest games for this platform.
Ninja Cop in its superbly designed levels combines classic ninja action and acrobatics that our hero in blue performs using a special chain. It can be attached to almost anything and one platform in the game. The mechanics of chain oscillation are elaborated in detail and are characterized by very impressive physics. There are also many classic elements from this genre, such as the system of strengthening abilities, rescuing hostages, and powerful Ninjutsu magic.
5. Sengoku 3
With a punching system that was far ahead of its time for a single beat ‘em up, Sengoku 3 gives the player the use of several special attacks, defensive options, and usable projectiles such as kunai arrows and ninja bombs.
In addition to the four basic characters, two secret characters are available, and the game is divided into six challenging levels. The Sengoku 3 got ports on the Playstation 2, Nintendo Wii and GOG, and is also available on all current consoles as another of Hamster's ACA Neo Geo releases. Fortunately, the button for inserting coins does not cost anything when it comes to reissuing games like this on modern platforms.
6. Cyber Shadow
The fact that this ninja jewel decided to support and release the legendary Yacht Club Games (known for the Shovel Knight) speaks volumes about the quality of Cyber Shadow. We look forward to any news of a possible sequel.
7. Tenchu series
What can in any case serve as consolation is the realization that the creator of the series, Takuma Endo, recently stated that he has ambitions to return to the Tenchu series in the form of a kind of reboot on the Playstation 5 console.
8. Ninja Gaiden series
Ninja Gaiden also appeared on Sega's 8-bit consoles (Master System and Game Gear) and Nintendo's Game Boy in the 1990s. Due to the licensing policy at the time, each of the mentioned versions came from a special developer and provided players with a completely new experience.
What has cemented Ninja Gaiden as one of the most recognizable series featuring ninjas is the reboot of the series that started on the original Xbox console. Thanks to a recent compilation called Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection, we can play the new trilogy on all modern platforms. It’s just a shame that the latest sequel, Ninja Gaiden: Yaiba, has left a bitter taste to all fans.
9. Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors
The final version available for the PS4 and Switch platforms is the culmination of the Ninja Warriors experience as it brings support for cooperative gaming and an additional two characters that expand the roster of cyber ninja fighters to a total of six characters, each with special abilities and special attacks.
10. Mark of the Ninja
In Mark of the Ninja, the player is in the role of a nameless ninja trying to save his clan, with an emphasis on sneaking around and sneaking up on enemies. Darkness and the environment are the ninja's best friends and allow him quick executions from the shadows, and when it thickens - this Klei Entertainment protagonist can rely on a slightly more messy approach and thus engage in direct combat with enemies.
11. Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja
The premise of the game is simple: two ninja warriors, Blade and Striker, must rescue the President of the United States from the clutches of the evil Dragon Ninja. The game is a side-scrolling beat-em-up, and players must fight their way through hordes of enemies to reach the Dragon Ninja's lair.
The game was notable for its time for its use of digitized sprites, which gave the characters a realistic look. The game was also one of the first to allow players to input their names into the high score table.
Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja was ported to several home consoles and is still a popular game today. It is considered a classic of the genre, and its simple but addictive gameplay has stood the test of time.
12. Shadow Warriors
Therefore, this old ninja game is undoubtedly the best of its time in terms of aesthetics. Scenes of about ten ninjas beating each other up while other ninjas on motorbikes rush past are vivid and magnificent, and it's impossible not to be mesmerized by them.
While persistence is essential to any successful game, the inhumanly difficult levels make it such that you'll need to play for hours to even finish the first level. This game is a little too demanding.