Ninja Gaiden (Arcade) on Virtual Console

ninjagaidenarcNinja Gaiden has an odd history. Unlike other familiar NES ports such as Contra (from Konami), which took the arcade game and expanded it, Ninja Gaiden is a radically different title on the home console. In fact, the genre isn’t even the same.

Instead of a beautifully paced, smooth, and engaging platformer, Ninja Gaiden began life as a co-op beat-em-up. This was a sloppy, difficult to control mess, but one with a great soundtrack behind it. Visuals were somewhat subdued, certainly lacking the vibrant color most arcade games of the era featured. Ryu (or Ryu #2 if a second player joined) loves to bounce off things, and jumping can result in a push-off of an object.

A basic move set means you’ll kick most foes, but a sword power-up makes up for the questionable collision (sometimes). Stages are small and cramped, allowing for limited movement. Ryu is hardly the fluid, fast-moving ninja he would become.

The arcade Ninja Gaiden was ported only once to a console, the ill-fated Atari Lynx. Despite lacking levels, the port was quite accurate, even down the inconsistent collision. Nintendo is asking 600 Wii points for the arcade original, which is more of a curiosity in gaming history than smart purchase.

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