Oh video game ninjas. They’re everywhere! And used to various effecst. Sometimes, they only resemble a ninja in the loosest terms, but we still love them. Because ninjas are badass – some might say they are the ultimate badasses. Even just the slightest association to a ninja is an instant hit among the gaming geeks.
So here’s Wild Gunmen’s list of top 10 ninjas in video games. Not everyone will agree with the list or it’s order – even some of the staff – but we took into account how much a character resembles the traditional ninja, how recognizable or iconic they are in their role, and what kind of crazy shit they’ve had to use their ninja skills to get out of in their video game careers.
The ninja from N & N+ really knows what being a ninja is all about. He’s silent, and moves quickly to his goal, dispatching what enemies he needs to along the way, but focusing mostly on his speed.
There’s not too much to him, adding to the ninja mystique and authenticity. What started as a flash game quickly rocketed to success on portable consoles, hurtling this little ninja into the spotlight.
Mai Shiranui is a master ninja. I know, I know – her ninjitsu is hardly what she’s known for, but once you get past the cleavage and booty shots, Mai is a pretty good ninja. She can throw that fan and flip an opponent like a pro… and she’s got badass hot clevage… which she can use to… um… help her balance!
The ninjas from Ninjatown must fend off the forces of Dr. Demon to protect their village in this wonderful tower defense game.
Led by Ol’ Master Ninja, these adorable guys prove to be deadly, using traditional weapons such as snowballs to take down their foes. The currency of Ninjatown is ninja star cookies! Sweet!
Everyone has a favourite, so all four of the turtles share one spot on this list. The Ninja Turtles have been capturing the hearts and imaginations of gamers for years, not only in comics and on camera, but in an outstanding number of shallow to amazing video games.
Go Ninja! Go Ninja! Go!
The Final Fantasy series has had its share of ninjas, but Shadow stands out. Although for the first half of the game, you could only pay him to join your party as a mercenary, and sometimes he’s paid by the bad guys to be your enemy, he does save the party at the half way mark of the game, thus redeeming himself as a good guy ninja.
Many gamers ran straight to their airship and escaped – there was a time limit imposed on you, and if you didn’t make it, you died. Those that chose to wait for shadow until only the last few seconds on the timer, were rewarded.
A great character, Shadow was a pure ninja. He looked the part, he used throwing stars (and could throw anything else in your inventory) and even had a dog to help him out in some attacks. All around Shadow stands as an iconic powerhouse of a ninja even if he was only a side character.
There was a time when Shinobi was a flagship title for Sega. With his short swords, ninja throwing stars and powerful ninja special abilities, Shinobi’s Joe Musashi was a hardcore ninja, taking down an entire crime syndicate on multiple occasions.
A big factor in deciding if a character is “ninja” enough for this list is difficulty, and the Shinobi games were hard. But a true ninja perseveres, and although Shinobi’s popularity has sharply declined since the days of the Genesis, somehow the series still limps on, with Joe Musashi keeping up appearances as one of gaming’s oldest and greatest ninjas.
The Lin Kui warrior has become one of the poster boys for the Mortal Kombat series. He’s been in every entry of the main series, his costume is easily recognizable, and so are his special attacks.
People don’t care much what his personality is, and only fans of the series have bothered to learn his back story, but everyone remembers that MK1 fatality where he rips off his opponents head, wrenching out the spine.
Everyone remembers the Cyborg Ninja from Metal Gear Solid. A wild card in the plot, the Cyborg Ninja (who was revealed to be Grey Fox) was just bad ass. In his first appearance, he cut off Ocelots hand like it was no big deal.
Later, he tears through a hallway of enemies, leaving no one alive. He then forces you into hand-to-hand combat, as he can block your bullets with ease. And nearing the games big finale, he sacrifices himself to save the day.
The character is popular enough that he’s survived the series in many ways, but everyone always remembers the original.
Tenchu is the heart of ninja games. Rikimaru dispatches enemies with the sword of his clan, Izayoi, and more importantly, through stealth. It’s fascinating how many ninja games there are, but this is the only one on this list that is stealth based.
Rikimaru himself sports a scar over his eye, given to him by his older brother, who also killed his master. At one point all that was left of his entire clan was him and his partner Ayame. Although the Tenchu game series has fallen in quality over the past few iterations, Rikimaru remains a total badass. This guy has seen some serious shit.
Regardless of which version of Ryu you prefer (the NES or the current one), this dude has always kicked ass and looked good doing it. While he may not have freeze powers, or use traditional ninja methods or show off his cleavage, Ryu Hayabusa is the biggest name on this list. And that hasn’t always been so, and it may change in the future, but right now Ryu Hayabusa is on top.
Ninja Gaiden games have always looked good and been extremely popular – not to mention difficult – and Ryu has always been a stylish, but lethal force.
His costume isn’t particularly original, but throw any of the characters in a ninja garb, and chances are gamers today will assume it’s Ryu.
Disagree? Tell us about it in the comments!
This list is subjective. I mean, the seven staff writers who helped compile it surely don’t accurately account for the entire gaming populous. We know this, which is why we like to hear your suggestions and comments below. Thanks!
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