The Best NES Ninja Games – My Top Picks

The Best NES Ninja Games – My Top Picks
Video nes ninja games

(Last Updated On: October 6, 2023)

I loved a good Ninja video game back in the day (still do). I loved action packed games where you get to beat up a lot of baddies. Although there was a wide variety of Ninja based games for most home systems one that sticks out in my mind is the NES. So I thought I would highlight some of the NES Ninja Games I enjoy playing the most.

More NES Gaming Fun:

  • My Top 10 NES Games
  • All You Need To Know About NES Black Box Games
  • The Best NES Fighting and Beat Em Up Games
  • The Best NES Racing Games
  • All NES WWF Games

My Favorite NES Ninja Games

Let’s take a look at my favourite NES Ninja based games. Expect lots of beat em up action, ninja stars and action.

1. Ninja Gaiden

“Ninja Gaiden” is an action-platformer video game developed by Tecmo and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1988.

The game follows the protagonist, Ryu Hayabusa, a young ninja who embarks on a quest to avenge his father’s death and thwart an evil conspiracy that threatens the world. Along his journey, Ryu battles through numerous challenging stages filled with enemies, obstacles, and traps.

The gameplay of “Ninja Gaiden” is noted for its fast pace, precise controls, and intense difficulty. Ryu can run, jump, climb walls, and slash enemies with his sword. Throughout the game, players can collect power-ups that provide Ryu with additional abilities, such as throwing stars and enhanced attack power.

One of the standout features of “Ninja Gaiden” is its cinematic cutscenes, which were groundbreaking for the time. These cutscenes help to narrate the story between levels and give context to Ryu’s mission.

“Ninja Gaiden” is often considered one of the most difficult games on the NES, due in part to its relentless enemies and limited continues. Despite its steep difficulty curve, the game has remained an influential and beloved classic in the platforming genre, spawning several sequels and re-releases in the years that followed.

Two sequels would follow for the NES but it is the original game that started the magic.

Take a Look at My Top 10 NES Games of All Time

2. Wrath of the Black Manta

“Wrath of the Black Manta” is an action video game developed by AI and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the early 90s.

The game follows the character of the Black Manta, a ninja seeking to rescue kidnapped children from a criminal organization. As the Black Manta, players must navigate various side-scrolling levels, battling enemies, dodging traps, and finding clues that can lead to the children’s whereabouts.

Players can use a combination of ninja techniques and weapons, such as throwing stars and swords, to defeat enemies. Additionally, there are magic spells that can be learned and employed to aid in the fight against the criminal syndicate.

The game is known for its challenging difficulty and unique blend of platforming and puzzle-solving. Though not considered a major hit of the NES era, “Wrath of the Black Manta” still retains a cult following among retro gamers and is often praised for its unique art style and intricate level design.

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game” is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up video game developed by Konami and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1990. It is a port of the popular arcade game “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game” and is the sequel to the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” game for the NES.

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The game’s plot follows the four titular heroes—Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael—as they battle their way through various levels to defeat their arch-nemesis, Shredder, and his Foot Clan. Players can control one of the four Turtles, each possessing unique weapons and abilities, as they fight through waves of enemies in locations inspired by the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series.

Gameplay consists of traversing through various stages, defeating enemies with hand-to-hand combat, and utilizing special moves and weapons. Players can also pick up power-ups, like pizza to restore health, and utilize cooperative play with a friend in the two-player mode.

The NES version of the game included some changes and additional content compared to the arcade original, such as new levels and enemies. While the graphics were scaled down due to hardware limitations, the core gameplay remained faithful to the arcade experience.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game” was well-received upon release and is often fondly remembered for its engaging multiplayer action, colorful graphics, and the nostalgic connection to the beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. It remains a favorite among retro gamers and fans of the series.

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4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project” is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up video game developed and published by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Released in 1991, it is the third installment in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series for the NES.

In this game, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael – are on vacation in Florida when they learn that Shredder has kidnapped April O’Neil and has unleashed chaos in Manhattan by literally lifting the entire island into the sky. The Turtles must battle their way back to New York City to defeat Shredder and save April.

The gameplay continues in the style of previous TMNT beat-’em-up game, allowing players to choose one of the four Turtles, each with their unique weapons. Players must fight through various levels filled with Foot Clan members and other iconic TMNT villains, with intense boss battles at the end of each stage. The game is a lot of fun offering a new beat em up experience for Turtles fan that enjoyed the previous game.

5. The Legend of Kage

“The Legend of Kage” is an action arcade game developed by Taito, and it was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1986.

Set in feudal Japan, the game follows the young ninja Kage as he attempts to rescue Princess Kiri from the villainous warlord Yoshi, who has kidnapped her. The player takes control of Kage, fighting through various levels filled with enemies and obstacles to save the princess.

The gameplay is fast-paced and emphasizes vertical movement, as Kage can jump incredibly high and climb trees. Players must navigate through different stages, including forests and castles, battling enemy ninjas and samurai along the way. Kage can use a sword for melee attacks and throwing stars for ranged attacks.

One of the standout features of “The Legend of Kage” is its distinct visual style, with colorful and minimalist graphics that give the game an almost ethereal quality. The controls are simple, yet the game can be challenging, especially as players progress through the levels.

Though not as widely recognized as some other NES titles, “The Legend of Kage” is remembered for its unique gameplay mechanics and has maintained a following among retro gaming enthusiasts.

6. Shadow of the Ninja

“Shadow of the Ninja” is a side-scrolling action-platformer game developed and published by Natsume for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was released in North America in 1990.

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Set in the year 2029, the game follows the characters Hayate and Kaede, two members of the Iga ninja clan, as they attempt to overthrow an evil emperor who has taken control of the United States. Players can choose to control either Hayate or Kaede, or two players can play cooperatively.

The gameplay is characterized by traditional platforming action, where players traverse various levels, battling enemies and avoiding obstacles. The characters are equipped with swords, but they can also acquire additional weapons and power-ups, including shurikens, grenades, and kusarigamas (chain-sickles).

The level design incorporates vertical and horizontal scrolling, offering a diverse range of environments to explore. The game is well-regarded for its tight controls and strategic gameplay, as players must carefully choose when to attack or use stealth to avoid enemies.

“Shadow of the Ninja” also features atmospheric graphics and a memorable soundtrack, contributing to an engaging gaming experience. While not as widely recognized as some of the era’s top-tier titles, “Shadow of the Ninja” has garnered appreciation from retro gamers and is considered a hidden gem on the NES platform.

7. Bad Dudes

“Bad Dudes” (also known as “Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja”) is a side-scrolling beat-’em-up arcade game developed and published by Data East. It was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1989.

The game’s plot is famously simplistic: the President of the United States has been kidnapped by ninjas, and the players, as the titular “Bad Dudes,” are tasked with rescuing him. Players take on the roles of martial artists Blade and Striker, battling their way through multiple stages filled with ninjas and other foes.

Gameplay in “Bad Dudes” is typical of the beat-’em-up genre, with players progressing through linear levels, fighting waves of enemies, and confronting challenging bosses at the end of each stage. Along the way, players can pick up various weapons, such as knives and nunchaku, and health-restoring items.

One of the distinctive features of the game is the ability for two players to play simultaneously in co-op mode, enhancing the experience by allowing friends to fight through the game’s challenges together.

While “Bad Dudes” was popular in arcades, the NES port received mixed reviews. The graphics and sound were considered subpar in comparison to the arcade version, and the gameplay was often described as repetitive. Despite these criticisms, the game’s over-the-top premise and straightforward action have given it a certain nostalgic charm.

8. Zen: Intergalactic Ninja

“Zen: Intergalactic Ninja” is an action-platformer video game developed by Konami and published by KomodoGames for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was released in 1993.

The game is based on a comic book character of the same name and follows Zen, an environmentally conscious ninja from another galaxy, on his mission to save Earth from pollution and environmental destruction.

The gameplay of “Zen: Intergalactic Ninja” features a mix of platforming, combat, and puzzle-solving. Players control Zen as he fights various enemies using his staff and special abilities. The levels are themed around environmental issues, such as deforestation, toxic waste, and air pollution, with bosses that personify these ecological threats.

One unique aspect of the game is the isometric perspective used in some levels, giving it a distinct look compared to many side-scrolling NES titles. The game also includes several mini-games that test players’ reflexes and skills.

“Zen: Intergalactic Ninja” was praised for its vibrant graphics, engaging gameplay, and its environmental messages, making it somewhat unique for its time. However, the game’s difficulty and some control issues were points of criticism.

Despite not being a significant commercial success, “Zen: Intergalactic Ninja” has become a cult classic among NES enthusiasts, appreciated for its distinctive concept and commitment to environmental themes.

NES Ninja Games

When it comes to Ninja games the NES has plenty to choose from. The NES was at its peak of popularity at around the same time everyone was mad about Ninjas too (movies, games and Turtles of course). Hopefully you have enjoyed my list of games that I would recommend checking out and playing.

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