4 of the Best Ninja Video Game Franchises Ever Made

Dave LeClair 26-03-2014

Everyone loves ninjas. There is something fantastic about the skills possessed by a ninja. Not only are they adept at sneaking around without detection 4 Hidden Gems From The Nintendo 64 That You Should Play We are going to give these hidden gems their moment in the sun, and hopefully, you will go back and play them, because you will still have a great time! Read More , but they can also bring the pain in a fight with a seemingly never-ending slew of enemies when the need arises.


What is even more awesome than ninjas themselves? Taking control of a ninja and actually performing all of the incredible feats yourself in video game form, of course. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the very best ninja games and franchises you will find throughout gamings storied history.

Ninja Gaiden

If you think back, how many NES franchises NES Games That Retailers Chronically Overcharge For Recently, I wrote an article about NES games that sell for insane prices. Games like Stadium Events can easily sell for thousands of dollars. That's all well and good, but there are some classic NES... Read More can you think of that are still alive and kicking (see what I did there) today? Castlevania, Zelda, and Mario are probably three that come to mind. Well, how about Ninja Gaiden? Sure, the gameplay has seen some serious changes over the years, but the idea remains the same: you are a ninja, and you are tasked with doing some cool ninja-like things. What more could you ask for?

We’ve actually looked at games that made the transition from 2D to 3D very smoothly 3 Video Games That Did The Best Job Of Moving From 2D To 3D [MUO Gaming] Some video games stand the test of time. Sure, they may have started as 2D games, but they were able to evolve and get with the times. There is, and always will be, a place... Read More , and one could argue that Ninja Gaiden belongs on that list. What started as an incredibly difficult side-scrolling ninja game has perfectly transitioned into a 3D beat-em up game that remains as difficult as its old-school counterparts. It’s easily one of the best ninja franchises ever made, and it continues to excel throughout almost every release.


While Ninja Gaiden was over in Nintendoland being awesome, over on the Sega Master System 8 Of The Best Retro Gaming YouTube Channels [MUO Gaming] Read More , Shinobi was doing its thing, albeit with slightly less fanfare. It featured gameplay that was a lot like Ninja Gaiden, with some awesome side-scrolling ninja action with lots of combat and challenging platforming. The levels in the original Shinobi were very deep, offering a high degree of challenge to players.

Also like Ninja Gaiden, Shinobi eventually made the shift to 3D, and while not greeted with as much success, some of them are still quite good. The first 3D game, simply titles Shinobi, was released in 2002, and it came out to decent reviews from critics. Since then, a game in the franchise called Nightshade was released, which was not as good as the first 3D entry, but it was still solid. In 2011, Shinobi 3D was released for the 3DS, and it brought the franchise back to its side-scrolling roots.


Samurai Shodown

Samurai Shodown, or SamSho as it’s sometimes called, is a little different from the first two games we’ve talked about in that it is a 2D fighting game 5 Browser-Based Fighting Games That Are Actually Good Some of the best fighting games are actually available for free as Flash games in your browser. Read More along the line of Street Fighter. It’s a series that is best known in arcade circles, but it has also seen success in home versions across various platforms ranging from the Neo Geo to the PlayStation.

Almost every game released with the Samurai Shodown name is regarded as a classic, at least the older ones were. Some of the more recent games have been misses, but the beauty of the fighting game genre is that you can go back to the older games and still have a great time. Sure, not all of the characters are ninjas in terms of look and feel, but everything about the gameplay and action just screams ninja awesomeness. Seriously, if you want a game that puts two ninjas one on one to see who possesses the greater skills, check out any of the classic SamSho releases, and you will not be disappointed.


Tenchu is a franchise that has kind of fallen off with some relatively poor releases, but that doesn’t take away from how awesome the older games were back in the late 90s. The games go out of their way to emphasize the stealth portion of being a ninja, which is something many ninja games avoid, instead focusing on the intense action.

Part of what makes this game such a classic is the use of motion capture, something not common for early PlayStation games. This creates an incredible accurate feeling of being a ninja, and it really shows through in the gameplay. It’s definitely a game that is very true to the ways of ninjitsu, and one that any hardcore ninja lover will enjoy.



If you love ninjas, these games have you covered. Whether you prefer platformers, 3D action games, or fighters, these franchises have games that suit your tastes.

Now, we turn to you: what are your favorite ninja video games? Hit the comments section below and let us know!

Related topics: Nintendo, PlayStation, Retro Gaming, Xbox 360.

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  1. Avish K
    March 27, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Samurai showdown has more samurais and fighters with different weapons than just ninjas though. Only ninjas I can remember from on top of my head are galford and hanzo. Still one of my favorite game of all times.