Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

Ninja Gaiden - Genesis (unreleased, ca. 1992-1993)


Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

Sega even had a third Ninja Gaiden project running, this time for the Mega Drive. Once again, the development was done by a third party. This time it seems to have been the mostly unknown developer called Opus, as in-game art and the sound engine used indicate. This game was never released, probably due to quality issues, but a beta copy was leaked and can be played on emulators nowadays. The game tries to build upon the concept of the original arcade game, but feels more like a very bad approach to the Streets of Rage school of beat-em-ups. It is obvious that it either was in a rather early development stage (an EGM preview for November 1992 labeled it 60% complete, but it’s unknown if that was the version that got dumped), or Sega did right to pull the plug on this botched mess.

Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

The game features a lot of cut scenes, all of them in the finest Engrish. The chapter titles are in Japanese, though. The story doesn’t make any sense, at least not in its presented state. Later in the game, you meet people you should know but don’t, and about halfway through the game you get to know that your goal from the beginning was to rescue Ryu’s kidnapped ninja lady friend.

Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

The controls are odd, because you can’t walk straight forward – instead, you can only walk diagonally. This is completely absurd, because the screen isn’t viewed from an isometric angle. Not only is it difficult to line up attacks, but you’ll often end up double tapping the controller, which sends Ryu rolling all over the screen. Everything looks, feels, and sounds unnatural, especially when you’re trying to pummel someone.

Once again, Sega couldn’t resist to build in a desperation attack that consumes a quarter of your life. You’ll never need it though, since your enemies are dumb as hell. You retain your standard combo and Guillotine Throw from the arcade game, but there isn’t any climbing action. There are poles in some levels who look like they might have been intended for such a purpose, but at least in the surviving version, there is nothing to do with them.

Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

A few stages are reminiscent of the arcade game, but there are no traps and they are as boring as the rest of the game. This title is much longer, though, and so the levels are filled up with not-so-exciting “innovations” like a bar stage, or a level that takes place on an elevator. In the beta, you can jump to any level you want by pausing the game and selecting the stage number, which is displayed in place of the remaining time, but you won’t find any decent stages, no matter how hard you look. There are actually a few visually well designed bosses, like the punk rock guitarist who constantly gives Ryu the finger, or the final boss monster with its long extending arm, but gameplay-wise, they’re just as stupid and boring as the rest.

Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

There’s really nothing good about this game, and it stayed unreleased for a reason. Give it a wide berth. Follow-ups to the original arcade game just didn’t seem to get any luck. Reportedly, there was a Ninja Gaiden II for the arcades in development, on nothing less than Neo Geo hardware, and went as far as having location tests in July 1994, but it soon disappeared, barely leaving any traces at all. An old online profile of composer Takuya Hanaoka listed 6 BGM tracks for the Neo Geo Ninja Gaiden 2 among his portfolio.

Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)

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