Friday, January 20, 2012

Videogame Mythbusters: Ninja Gaiden

Filled with an overwhelming sense of self confidence after finding Contra quite easy I decided to try another game that is famous for its difficulty, Ninja Gaiden on the NES. Well this game was a walk in the park as well and I blazed through it. Actually I’m lying, this game was hell.

Unlike Contra, Ninja Gaiden lives up to its difficult reputation. The final two stages 5 and 6 had me tearing my hair out and swearing like crazy. However by that stage the difficulty had become a little unfair, unlike Contra which remains a fair challenge throughout. Ninja Gaiden actually uses its bad programming in the level design. If an enemy spawn point is at the edge of the screen it will continually spawn when it is killed. It’s not enough that the enemy placement and level design is fiendish enough as is but the level designers use this nasty quirk of the programming in some really nasty ways.

In a game filled to the brim with more dick moves than any other I’ve played it has what is for me the biggest dick move in videogame history. The final boss takes place over three forms, the second of which is one of the hardest bosses I’ve ever faced. However should you die on this boss no matter how many lives you have in reserve you are dumped back to the beginning of stage 6-1 and have to repeat stage 6-1, 6-2 and 6-3 before you have another chance at the boss. To put things in perspective, those 3 stages are absolute nightmares and it will take you at least 30 minutes until you get another shot at the boss. The bosses second form is so difficult that it will take you about 20-30 attempt to beat him. Between each attempt you’ll have to replay those stages. Apparently this was a bug that the original programmers couldn’t be bothered to fix. I managed to beat him by save stating right before him because I was sick of playing those horrible stages. I don’t care what you think; to me it counts as beaten.

So that’s an awful lot of complaining about the game but you know I did really enjoy it. The controls are fluid and it’s one of the best platformers on the NES. It’s one of the first games to use cutscenes to tell a story and even though it’s cheesy and cliché it does add a cinematic flair to the proceedings. Next up: Ninja Gaiden 2.


  1. I read this line:

    Well this game was a walk in the park as well and I blazed through it

    And was like - seriously? Thankfully your next statement set me straight. I actually found this game quite hard myself. Ninja Gaiden 2 I actually beat before going back and braving part 1 again. In my opinion, difficulty for those 3 NES games was:

    - Ninja Gaiden (hardest)
    - Ninja Gaiden 3
    - Ninja Gaiden 2(easiest, by quite a bit imo)

    I beat the first one and never played it again. I beat #3 a few times, and beat #2 at least a dozen or so times. Save states would have spared me so much lost sanity on that first title... lol

  2. I hope I get around to the rest, I did enjoy it despite the level designers being sick individuals. I also hear the master system version is fantastic and a standalone game rather than a port.

  3. What a classic, and tough as nails. Albeit, if you complete it then you're a true dedicated gamer with skills :). I love the music in this game.

  4. While I can't currently claim this level of expertise, would you believe that I was able at ten years old to defeat the entire game with a single life? I am fully bragging, but also want to share a huge tip for defeating any boss in the game, a trick that enabled me to perform this feat. Using the Jump & Slash Technique (generic name, yes, but the official one given in the game manual), one can easily defeat any boss in the game in one or two attacks. You can identify the item by its cyclonic icon. Try it. I hope this helps anyone having difficulty with the bosses. As far as the rest of the game, well, only some OCD and memorization of enemy attack patterns will help you there. Take care!

    1. Thanks for the tip. I find it tough getting to the end of the level with that weapon since you end up using all the charges and it's difficult not to pick up another weapon but will keep it in mind when I get back to the sequels. For the moment the original Castlevania is giving me hell!

      There's a few games I used to be able to beat easily when I was younger without getting hit, Contra Hard Corp, Ghouls n' Ghosts and Rocket Knight Adventures but when I go back to them now I've lost my touch :)

    2. The trick is not to slash while jumping at all. It encumbers you a bit, but in an emergency, I would choose to use it rather than die.

      As far as those retro games, I know what you mean. Whatever magic resided in my hands when I was younger is gone, at least when playing these games, though it's fun to play them still!