Ninja Gaiden Wiki
Ninja Gaiden Wiki

Ninja Gaiden
Developer Tecmo
Platform Arcade, Commodore Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Atari Lynx, PC (DOS), ZX Spectrum
Release date 1988
Genre Beat 'em up
Mode 2 players, Co-op
Input methods 8-way joystick, 3 buttons

Ninja Gaiden is an arcade game released in 1988 in North America by Tecmo. This game is known in Japan as Ninja Ryūkenden and in Europe as Shadow Warriors.

In North America, it saw domestic releases on the Atari Lynx and PC (DOS based) as Ninja Gaiden. In Europe, it was released for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga and ZX Spectrum as Shadow Warriors. It was brought to the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console on July 28, 2009.


Ninja Gaiden Arcade

The arcade version of Ninja Gaiden is a "belt-scrolling" beat-'em-up. The player controls an unnamed ninja (retroactively established to be Ryu Hayabusa)[1] whose mission to defeat an evil cult led by Bladedamus, a descendant of Nostradamus who seeks to fulfill his end of the world prophecies. Upon starting the game, the player is greeted by the phrase "NINJA IN USA". Up to two players can play simultaneously (Player 1 controls the blue-suited Ryu Hayabusa, while Player 2 controls an unidentified orange-suited ninja).

The controls of the game consists of an eight-way joystick and three action buttons: Grab, Attack, and Jump. The Grab button is located on top of the joystick itself. The player character has five main techniques: The "Triple Blow Combination" is the player's primary attack, performed by pressing the attack button repeatedly while the player is standing on the ground. While jumping towards an adversary, the player can do a "Flying Neck Throw"; throwing an enemy into a background object (such as trash cans, phone booths, or signs) will cause different power-ups to appear, such as health restoring pills or a sword that can be wielded for a limited time. While standing near overhead signs or bars, the player can hang unto them by pressing the Grab button and perform a "Hang Kick". While overhanging on a bar, the player can also move by performing a "Tightrope Walk". The last of the five techniques is the "Phoenix Backflip", in which the player runs towards the wall and performs a backflip.

Ryu in the Continue Screen

The game features a morbid continue screen, where the player character 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.


Ninja Gaiden chronology
Ninja Gaiden
Ninja Gaiden Shadow
Ninja Gaiden (Black/Σ/Σ+)
Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
Ninja Gaiden II (Σ2/Σ2+)
Ninja Gaiden 3 (Razor's Edge)
Ninja Gaiden X
Ninja Gaiden Episode I
Ninja Gaiden Episode III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Ninja Gaiden Episode II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Ninja Ryukenden
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Ryu Vs Psychopaths

In 1999, America, the Cult of Nostradamus lead by Nostradamus's descendent Bladedamus was rising from obscurity as Nostradamus's doomsday prediction drew closer. With country gripped in fear and wishing to fulfil the prophecy, Bladedamus orchestrated a massive jailbreak from Alcatraz the world's largest maximum security prison. The charismatic Bladedamus recruited the criminals into his cult, then took control of every major American city, flooding the streets with legions of criminals. Bladedamus took control of the ICBM control switch, leaving the US President powerless against the cult.[2]

In Japan, a ninja named Ryu Hayabusa, whose clan had shaped history in troubled times from behind the scenes since the Sengoku period, learns of this, readies himself, and heads to America to stop Bladedamus and his cult and put a stop to Bladedamus' fiendish plans.

Upon arriving in San Francisco, Ryu was attacked by Bladedamus's minions. Mainly using hand to hand combat, he fought off hundreds of criminals consisting of masked psychopaths, street gangs, clawed killers, road warriors, ninja and sumo wrestlers, as he made his way through New Jersey, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the American wilderness and, finaly, the Cult of Nostradamus's headquarters. Inside the headquarters surrounded by demonic symbols and artefacts, Ryu dispatched the last of the cult to face Bladedamus in a climatic battle, defeating Bladedamus and any hope of his Nostradamus prophecy ever being fulfilled. With his mission accomplished, he returned to Japan.




  • While the names of the two player characters were never established when the arcade game was originally released, it was often assumed that Player 1 was Ryu Hayabusa due to the arcade game's promotional flyer using the same artwork used for the NES version's packaging (although the Famicom version uses a different artwork). A file in Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z retroactively establishes that Ryu indeed fought the Cult of Nostradamus.[1] The identity of the Player 2 character remains unknown.
  • Some of the enemies in the game wear masks similar to that of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films.
  • In the game over screen, despite counting down from 10, the time given is actually 11, due to the way 0 is counted.

External links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ryu Hayabusa (character file)
  2. "紹介 - 忍者龍剣伝" (in Japanese). Gamest (Vol. 29): p. 103. February 1989