Ninja Gaiden Shadow

Ninja Gaiden Shadow / Shadow Warriors / Ninja Ryuukenden GB: Matenroo Kessen (忍者龍剣伝GB 摩天楼決戦) - Game Boy (1991)


This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Ninja Gaiden

After The Ancient Ship of Doom Tecmo abandoned the Ninja Gaiden franchise, for all that matters. Until their re-release of the NES games as Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, licensing was all that kept the series alive. That is really sad, considering how much other action series gained from their step to 16-bit. Who knows how a “real” SNES Ninja Gaiden would have looked and played like?

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

Instead, in 1991, Tecmo “adopted” the Game Boy port of Natsume’s Shadow of the Ninja. The two heroes of that game were replaced with Ryu Hayabusa, the introduction, otherwise nearly identical to Natsume’s NES game, got an unrelated sentence like “Jaquio has not yet been awakened” attached, to “connect” its storyline with the other games, and finished was the new Ninja Gaiden. Oh, there’s also the Art of the Fire Wheel, which is the only special attack in the game.

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

But everything else still smells like Shadow of the Ninja – the extra containers lying on the floor, the identical music tunes, the hand-to-hand shimmying instead of wall climbing (plus a cool new grapple hook, whose use is limited to pulling Ryu straight up vertically, though), the enemy and stage design and whatnot. There’s even proof that the change came upon the game pretty late in development, as Nintendo Power previewed the game as Shadow of the Ninja as late as September 1991, only three months before the final game came out. The American title even sounds like it pays tribute to its roots, but the Japanese subtitle just means “Skyscraper Showdown”.

Shadow of the Ninja Game Boy Preview

It’s quite interesting to see how Ninja Gaiden III seems to have already been inspired greatly by Shadow of the Ninja in turn. Suddenly, Ninja Gaiden has mechanical enemies, hand-to-hand shimmering (though this also may be rooted in the arcade game) and a sword upgrade? No comment. To finish the circle, you can bet the creators at Natsume weren’t quite unfamiliar with Ninja Gaiden to begin with.

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

But back to Ninja Gaiden Shadow. It’s a much stripped down version, no matter whether it’s viewed it from the Ninja Gaiden or the Shadow of the Ninja standpoint. There’s no in-game storytelling other than the intro, your attacks are very limited and the level design is rather boring most of the time, though not entirely without fun ideas. Not bad for an early Game Boy title, but it won’t keep you occupied for long. At least the music is pretty good – some of it sounds very similar to Shadow of the Ninja, but there are a few classic Ninja Gaiden tunes interspersed as well.

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

Comparison Screenshots: Ninja Gaiden Shadow & Shadow of the Ninja

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Ninja Gaiden Shadow (Game Boy)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Comparison Screenshots: Ninja Gaiden III & Shadow of the Ninja

Ninja Gaiden III (NES)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Ninja Gaiden III (NES)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

Ninja Gaiden III (NES)

Shadow of the Ninja (NES)

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