Forgotten Old Games – Shadow of the Ninja

Hello everyone! Today’s chosen one is Shadow of the Ninja, a big success from Natsume for NES. Shadow of the Ninja was released on 1990 in Japan and originally called Yami no Shigotonin KAGE; in 1991 the game made its way to western lands with its new name.

Shadow of the Ninja is considered by many as one of the best action games on NES and uses a similar to Ninja Gaiden’s level design strategy: frenetic action, levels filled up with enemies and really hard asses bosses.

Let’s begin with game’s story, Shadow of Ninja takes place in 2029, when a malefic dictator named Garuda invades USA and takes full control of it. To put an end on his terror reign, two of the finest ninjas in Iga clan are infiltrated in Garuda’s fortress to get rid of him. Those ninjas extremely skilled and well-trained “super ninjas” are Hayate and Kaede.

Tough the plot might not be one of the most brilliant in eastern literature, it doesn’t tarnish Shadow of the Ninja at all. It’s just the minimum amount of plea needed to takes us to what is really remarkable about this game: gameplay.

Levels and gameplay in Shadow of the Ninja are very well designed. Before starting, player can choose between Hayate and Kaede.

But as far as abilities go, both ninjas are identical and there is no difference in playing with one or the other. There is also a multiplayer mode in witch two players can play a cooperative mode in the same screen as in Double Dragon. In the beginning, the ninja’s only weapon is a katana, but in the course of the game, more weapons are presented, as whips, shurikens and even grenades. All those items are available in boxes around levels.

There is also the possibility of using special attacks that kill all enemies in screen, however that will consume half of player’s energy. Besides common weaponry, player can also rely on ninja’s abilities as grabbing in ropes and pipes, just like in Ninja Gaiden.

Shadow of the Ninja have 5 stages, each one with its final boss and a limited continue scheme, so if you run out of continues you will have to start all over again.

In the graphics and sound department, Shadow of the Ninja is very well produced, with great musics and astonishing graphics and even rotation effects, something very rare in NES times. I personally like the rain effect in the first ship stage.

One curiosity about the game that a Game Boy version was developed and almost released. However, Tecmo bough Natsume rights of the game and it was converted on a Ninja Gaiden game. In playing this particular Ninja Gaiden game, it’s possible to notice that the gameplay is far different from NES’s Ninja Gaiden, so as even the game plot is considered as a spin-off of the original series.

That’s all about Shadow of the Ninja, another Natsume’s great title for NES.