Ninjas have always been popular protagonists in video games. They are mysterious, deadly, and just plain cool. They’re so cool that in some areas, the word “ninja” has been banned in the past. That’s why children in the U.K. know the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Many early ninja games were either action platformers or beat 'em ups, but after 3D technology began to proliferate in the fifth generation they switched to a more stealth based play-style. As always, if a game you think belongs on this list, but was left out, then leave a comment below.
10 Mark Of The Ninja – Remastered
Mark of the Ninja began as an exclusive for the Xbox 360 in 2012. It was praised by critics and fans alike for its appealing visual style and addictive gameplay. In 2018 a remastered version was released for nearly every home console and featured high definition graphics and added content. Mark of the Ninja is a side-scrolling action platformer with some challenging puzzles thrown in for good measure. Stealth plays a big part in this game; getting close to enemies without them spotting you allows for quick kills. The game takes factors such as lighting and sound into play when trying to move stealthily.
9 Super Ninja Kun
This was a SNES game that unfortunately never made it to North America. Super Ninja Kun is a sequel to the NES game Ninja Kid, which was also a fun ninja game. In the sequel certain drawbacks were fixed, such as one-hit deaths.
The graphics in this game are colorful and cartoonish, which gives them a lasting appeal. There are also some really cool lighting effect on some of the levels. The control is tight and responsive. A necessary feature for action platformers like Super Ninja Kun. As you defeat enemies you can collect their souls, and when you amass enough you can perform a special move.
This series began in the arcades back in 1989, but Sega soon ported it to the Genesis. In the Strider series you play as futuristic ninja Strider Hiryu as he battles against the forces of the Grandmaster. The first game in the series is considered a classic, but Strider Hiryu, released in 2014, takes the game to the next level with a Metroidvania level layout and unlockable moves and weapons. Strider Hiryu was never given a physical release in North America, but if you want to pick it up as an import you’re in luck because it has English menus and dialogue on disc.
7 Ninja Gaiden Series
This entry is for the three Ninja Gaiden games for the NES, not the arcade beat ‘em up or the Xbox/PlayStation games. The three NES Ninja Gaiden games are all fun, but also difficult to the point to cause some rage-quitting in even the most hardcore gamer.
The series was praised at the time for the excellent in-game cutscenes which were something not normally seen in NES games. The music in the series, especially the first title, is some of the best music to come out of the 8-bit era. Just prepare yourself to hear the short tune that plays when you die. It will haunt you in your sleep after a while.
6 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sekiro: Shadow Die Twice, released in March of this year, is the most recent game on this list. The game gets its name from the in-game feature that allows you to revive your character once after dying. The difficulty of Sekiro has caused many to compare it to Dark Souls, but just as in Dark Souls the difficulty is part of the game's charm.
Sekiro uses a fighting system that forces players to learn what attacks and parries work best against other attacks and parries. Once you figure out this system the game is much less frustrating and much more rewarding.
5 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time
Turtles in Time was an arcade game released by Konami 1991, with a port to the SNES released the following year. The game begins with Krang stealing the Statue of Liberty, but soon the turtles find themselves hurled back in time by Shredder.
The turtles must then fight the Foot Clan through various historical settings; such as the age of the dinosaurs and the Wild West. The player can choose to play as any of the four Ninja Turtles, but there isn’t much of a difference other than appearance and the reach of their weapons. There is a remastered version subtitled Re-Shelled, but stick with the original.
4 The Shinobi Series
This entry is for the Shinobi games released for the Sega Genesis. The series, like a lot of entries on this list, began as an arcade game but was soon ported to a home console. The Shinobi games were some of the best side-scrolling action platformers available at the time. Revenge of Shinobi was changed for its North American release for having stage bosses that resembled Spiderman and Batman a little too much. One of the most memorable parts of the series was the bonus stage of the first game that was played from a first-person view as you threw shurikens at approaching ninjas.
3 Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
The Tenchu series began on the PlayStation in 1998 and has since become known for starting with a bang and then fading away unceremoniously. That was until the release of Shadow Assassins for the Wii, and PSP, in 2009. This title breathed new life into the franchise with its impressive graphics, and great controls. This series was so beloved by fans that when the trailers for Sekiro first appeared many thought it was for another Tenchu game, and were somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t.
This Shinobi entry was released for the PS2 in 2002 and changed the game to an action game with a third person perspective. One of the coolest features of this game is that if the player knows what they’re doing, and is fast enough, they can kill every enemy in the game with one strike each – even the bosses.
The game’s graphics could have been better, but Sega sacrificed the graphics slightly so the game would run at a steady frame-rate. The game doesn’t look terrible though. In fact the bosses are some of the most memorable bosses from any game, and the way Hotsuma’s scarf trails behind him is very cool.
1 Ninja Gaiden
This entry is for the Ninja Gaiden game released in 2004 for the Xbox, and as Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PS3 in 2007. This title is actually a prequel to the original NES series, and it is nearly as difficult as the original. The difficulty is actually what sets it apart in today’s age of games where there are save points and infinite continues. The difficulty really gives the player a sense of accomplishment, along with bragging rights, after completing the game. The 2005 original looks a bit dated, so if you’ve never given this game a try get Ninja Gaiden Sigma instead.