- Ninja Gaiden (Arcade)
- Ninja Gaiden (NES)
- Ninja Gaiden II (NES)
- Ninja Gaiden III (NES)
- Ninja Gaiden Shadow
- Ninja Gaiden (Game Gear)
- Ninja Gaiden (Master System)
- Ninja Gaiden (Genesis)
- Ninja Gaiden (2004)
- Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
- Ninja Gaiden II (2008)
- Ninja Gaiden 3 (2012)
- Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
- Ninja Gaiden Old & New
- Ninja Gaiden: Miscellanous
- Masato Kato (Interview)
Die-hard fans of the old Ninja Gaiden series often criticize the reinvented franchise for shunning its roots and not having anything to do with the old NES trilogy. But that’s only partially true. Although the new games naturally differ in gameplay and don’t continue on the trilogy storyline, there are subtle bits and pieces of fan service throughout the games.
Okay, this one’s a no-brainer, but in Ninja Gaiden Black or Sigma, you can even unlock his classic ninja outfit. His father, too, returns in Ninja Gaiden II.
The Difficulty Level
Back then, it was a damn hard action game among other hard action games, but now it has returned to make all the wimpy casual gamers cry while vigorously defending core gaming itself. According to Itagaki, easy games are for dogs, but before the old Ninja Gaiden, pretty much everyone’s a dog…
The Dragon Sword
Ryu’s ancient blade, carved from the bone of a dragon, which holds the secret power of the Dragon Ninja clan. It even has its evil counterpart in each series, although that is called the Dark Sword of Chaos in NES Ninja Gaiden II, and the Dark Dragon Blade in the Xbox game.
2004 wasn’t the first time Ryu’s hometown was destroyed by evil forces. Team Ninja apparently got its inspiration from the fairly unknown Ninja Gaiden for Sega Master System.
The Art of the Fire Wheel
Christened Invincible Fire Wheel in the old games, no ability of Ryu is common to more episodes than this ninja magic of rotating fire balls.
Air Destruction Slash
This move was a rather costly special attack in the first NES game simply called Jump & Slash, and now made its comeback as one of Ryu’s standard moves.
This time the developers of the reimagined series took a hint from the original arcade game. It still looks a bit odd, but it sure is effective.
Surprisingly, once again the developers didn’t look at the Trilogy for Ryu’s abilities, but made this rather a combination of the arcade game on the one hand and Sega’s Master System “reprogramming” on the other one.
If you keep an eye out for secret passages in Tairon, you can rediscover this familiar weapon. Not quite as effective as it was back in the day, though.
Admittedly, this one is just a little bit far fetched, since they weren’t demons or fiends in the arcade game, but their fighting behavior is strikingly similar.
Ryu’s Evil Doppleganger
Once again not an obvious adaption. The new Ryu clones can’t transform into big monsters like the old one, and the color of their blood suggests that they’re fiends.
The Demon Statue
The key item in the plot of the NES Ninja Gaiden makes its return… but on the Xbox it’s just the last of many keys you need to get through the imperial palace. Only in the sequel, it retrieves its role as host to the sealed power of a mighty demon/fiend.
The Demon Itself
Not enough, same demon statue also means same demon, although it looks more like its NES Ninja Gaiden II form with the wings and arms. The similarities don’t end here: The Demon is summoned by the Jaquio/the High Priest Dagra Dai, who commands The Malice Four/The Four Greater Fiends.
The CIA Dame
It’s been a while since Ryu had a love interest… apparently he just digs US secret agents. Considering all the other parallels between Ninja Gaiden II and the NES Ninja Gaiden, Sonia may be viewed as a blond, chest implant post-op, retconned version of Irene.
After dropping you in a single connected area of a fictitious realm in the Xbox Ninja Gaiden, for the sequel Tecmo reclaimed the concept of sending Ryu around the world like they did on the NES. To that effect, a few of the locations look a bit like they where included with the classic game in mind.
If you’re still not convinced that Ninja Gaiden II retells the story of the first NES game, take a look at this!
Even Ninja Gaiden III gets some love with the resurrection of these disgusting abominations.