It's Ninja-tastic. Again.
Ninjas. The protagonists and antagonists featured in approximately 76% of the direct-to-VHS titles released throughout the 1980s. Their popularity is such amongst the pre-pubescent youth of the world that they've also appeared in a massive variety of video games over the last 40 years. Some of these have been absolute classics, like Ninja Gaiden on the NES, Shinobi on the Master System, or Tenchu on the Playstation. But what would be the fun if we rounded up the best ninja games of the past? Nope, that's not for us. We want the weirdest and wackiest, most bizarre releases. The strangest cover art, and craziest concepts. And so with that in mind let's kick off with two things that should never, ever be combined...
Released in 1990 for the Atari 7800, at a time when literally nobody was playing the Atari 7800 anymore, Ninja Golf cunningly combines a scrolling beat 'em up with golf gameplay. Because. That's why.
Our ninja starts each hole by aiming his ball and shooting it toward the green. He then runs toward the ball, in traditional sidescroller fashion, fighting various enemies encountered along the way. These enemies include other ninjas, gophers, birds, giant mutant frogs, and the common enemy of every golfer who's ever hit the links - sharks!
Because. That's why.
Ninja Scooter Simulator
What's the one thing you associate with ninjas? I mean, outside of golf, obviously!
That's right. Scooters.
We've all seen ninjas zooming past us on their scooters and dreamt of tasting a little of that sweet sweet action, right? Well in the summer of 1988 Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum could do just that. Sort of.
Think the old Krypton Factor assault course meets Paperboy and you're not far off. See...
...The ninja'ing is limited. That is to say, pretty much non-existent. But there are some skeletons and floating skulls. So there's that.
Jesus 1988, what the hell was wrong with you?
Upgrading from his humble scooter our ninja now has himself a BMX, because, as we know, BMX boys have a lot of fun.
Again, precious little ninja'ing to be done here. You take the role of Phil 'Pookie' Wheeler who discovers one day whilst cycling home from school that his girlfriend has been kidnapped. He now has to prove his BMX skills to get her back. As clearly that's what any kidnapper would demand of any wannabe ninja.
Released in 1994 for the Atari Jaguar, and universally panned by critics and players alike, Kasumi Ninja featured an array of 'ninja' characters including the burly Angus MacGreggor, the blacksmith of his village Loch Katrine.
One of Angus's death moves was voted #1 in the "GamesMaster Gore Special - Top 10 Death Moves", where he rapidly punches his opponent's head, decapitates him with a kick, and headbutts their head offscreen when it's airborne. Now this is more like it! Not exactly ninja action but also no sign of a pushbike or golf clubs.
However, Angus was most noted for his 'special move'...
...I'm not that familiar with many master ninjas but something tells me that none of them are able to inexplicably shoot a fireball from underneath their kilts!
I know what you're thinking, Street Fighter was awesome, what's it doing on this list?
Well, yes, the original game was, but this 1994 release is the movie tie-in version. So we have a game based on a movie which is based on a game. Follow? Yep, they made a game for a movie which they already had a game for. And it was not very good. At all.
It's basically a not very good port of Super Street Fighter II with not very good "digitised graphics from the hit movie". You remember the "hit movie". The one which has 3.8% on IMDB and flopped at the box office. Yes, that one.
Shadow Warrior is a series of first-person shooter video games that focuses on the exploits of a modern ninja warrior Lo Wang who fights through hordes of demons, in search of the Nobitsura Kage ninja sword. This first 1997 release for the PC is a pretty average affair, nothing overly special, although compared to some of the other games on this list it's a bloody masterpiece!
It makes the cut here for it's quite brilliant tagline. A phrase I'm sure most ninjas have uttered at some point in time during their life - "Who wants some Wang?"
Presumably having mastered the art of golf our ninja fancies a new sporting challenge. And nothing says ninja like baseball.
You don't get to control any ninjas with this 2012 app, instead the ninja is the pitcher, throwing stealthy balls and the occasional shurikan stars at you, just to keep you on your toes. At least there is some actual ninja'ing going on in this game. Amazingly it's not the first time ninjas and baseball crossed paths...
Ninja Baseball Bat Man
Not to be confused with Ninja Baseball Batman (which does not exist but I'd play good money to play), this 1993 arcade game gives you and three of your ninja loving friends the chance to take on the role of street smart ninjas who have been tasked with recovering various artifacts stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Clearly that is the sole reason anyone would train a lifetime to become a ninja master! I mean, why couldn't the Baseball Hall of Fame just call the cops?
Maybe this was why...
This cops gone ninja! Well, it was the only choice Joe Osugi had when a group of evil ninja masters took over his beat and launched a series of terrorist cells around the city.
There's lots of ninja'ing to be done in this 2003 Game Boy Advance title, with ninja swords, shuriken throwing stars, ninjutsu magic and a kaginawa grappling hook system to perform the acrobatic moves available to our Joe.
Unfortunately there are no surfboards or a single utterance of "Book em Danno", so you can't help but feel a tad cheated.
You may have never heard of it, but this honestly exists.
Proving that ninja's are only human (which they are not, they are ninjas!), this 2006 game for Windows sees the sacred ninja sanctuary, where the fallen warriors of the Iga clan dwell after death, infested by bird flu. Christ! Haven't these ninjas suffered enough? They're already dead and now they get bird flu???
The gameplay sees a row of diseased ninja angels falling from the sky, threatening the Earth with the plague! You, a ninja armed with a missile launcher, have to shoot them down before they reach the ground.
This is what it looks like...
...and that's why you've never heard of it.
Ninja Pizza Girl
We're gonna finish with a recent release, Ninja Pizza Girl is a serious game about bullying, emotional resilience – and pizza delivering ninjas!
It’s a fast, flow-based game about Gemma, a sixteen-year-old girl trying to keep her dreams alive in face of the most merciless enemies known to any teenage girl – nope, not a gang of rogue ninjas, rather other teenagers!
It's pretty cool, and worth checking out, the most confusing thing though is that in the promotional image (above) Gemma's actually delivering a sandwich. Was Ninja Sandwich Girl not available?
Until next time, keep ninja'ing!