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5 Best Ninja Gaiden Games of All Time, Ranked

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Best Ninja Gaiden Games of All Time

If we were to do a survey of the best action slasher/shooter game of all time, I’m super confident most will say, “Ninja Gaiden.” I mean, I’m an action buff, so I make it my mission to know what games tickle most gamer’s fancy. For Ninja Gaiden games, it’s the long-standing cheer the franchise received from gamers’ worldwide since as early as 1988. There was the early start in the arcades, followed by the NES trilogy, and then the 3D action games from 2004 on the original Xbox to 2012. For a while, rumors had it that a new Ninja Gaiden game would be released. 

But the Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection hit our screens, instead, compiling the 2007 Ninja Gaiden Sigma, the 2009 Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, and the 2012 Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge games into one. Regardless of the painfully long hiatus, most of the previous games still hold up great even today. And rightfully so, seeing as they have gone on to influence some of the most popular hack and slash and action platformer games today. Despite Ninja Gaiden’s undeniable impact on gaming, there are some that evidently soar above the others, starting with these five best Ninja Gaiden games of all time, ranked.

5. Ninja Gaiden (2004)

Ninja Gaiden Xbox ( 2004 )

Ninja Gaiden came out at just the perfect time when the world was transitioning from 2D to 3D technology. For that reason, the franchise received a makeover of a lifetime that highly elevated the gaming experience to a whole other level. In the 2004 Ninja Gaiden entry, players still took the role of master ninja, Ryu Hayabusa. Usually, Ryu embarks on a quest of vengeance, which doesn’t change in this entry about recovering the Dark Dragon Blade from the Vigoor Empire and avenging his village’s slaughter by taking down the Holy Emperor.

Fun fact: Ninja Gaiden takes place two years before the first Dead or Alive game, and consequently, follows a similar gameplay to Dead or Alive games. Thanks to the new 3D rendering, the violence is much gorier as Ryu treads through the fictional empire of Vigoor and essentially sweeps through everything that breathes. There’s no describing how much a game’s visual design changes things. With the move to reinvent the Ninja Gaiden universe, the new brand of slaying everything that stands in your way, and the expansive levels filled to the brim with difficult enemies, it was no question whether Ninja Gaiden deserved a seat at the table, at least at the time it was released.

4. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (1990)

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos - Intro [NES - 1990]

This one’s definitely outdated, and most gamers of today probably won’t have had the chance to take it out for a spin. Anyways, Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos was the sequel to the booming first-ever NES entry. Riding on its predecessor’s success on the NES, Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos added some exciting new mechanics like scaling up walls and climbing down ladders. You could even attack enemies whilst scaling walls using “Power Boosting Items.”

It doesn’t end there. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos took a step further to add environmental hurdles like strong wind while navigating the game. Without perfectly timing when the wind blows, and jumping across before it hits, you die. That way, the game has a variety of gameplay elements to consider that made the already challenging side-scrolling platformer game more enticing to play.

3. Ninja Gaiden Black (2005)


Ninja Gaiden Black feels like the game’s sole purpose is to punish you, but in a thrilling way like Dark Souls or Devil May Cry. This was highly welcome, especially when it’s a consecutive entry to a long-running franchise. Fans wanted something fresh and Ninja Gaiden Black delivered. In addition to upscaled difficulty, the game added more enemy variety, different enemy placement, a new Arcade Mode, new costumes, and more. Add to that the additional two Hurricane Pack expansions, and you have yourself a game that has plenty of meat to the bone.

Ninja Gaiden Black is so good that, by itself, is enough to buy the recent Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection. It’s like the developers listened to feedback from previous games and went to work on improving every element that was talked about. Oh, and there are an additional 50 missions to complete, so you’re kept busy through the entire campaign.

2. Ninja Gaiden Sigma (2007)

The First 10 Minutes of Ninja Gaiden Sigma - Master Collection

As is tradition with the Ninja Gaiden franchise, developers brought new perspective, from shifting the gameplay’s focus from story progression to checking off objectives, to, at long last, moving away from Xbox exclusives to launching a revamped Ninja Gaiden Sigma port on the PlayStation 3 console. 

Even though the PlayStation 3 is outdated now, Ninja Gaiden Sigma still happens to have an impressive replay value today. That aspect alone, plus the new content bonus, makes Ninja Gaiden Sigma one of the best Ninja Gaiden games of all time.  

1. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (2008)

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword Nintendo DS Trailer -

Just a year later, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword came out on the Nintendo DS. These were the years when the Ninja Gaiden franchise left nothing to chance, even revamping new ports with original storylines and elevated visuals justifiable of the transition to a new hardware gaming device.

The move to Nintendo DS meant a shift from the usual gameplay to using a stylus, tilting the DS to the side, and swiping on the touchscreen to slash, jump, or do any combat stuff. What might be a downside for some is the greatly redacted gore, since Nintendo was still skeptical of violent gaming at the time. Though, even without the usual gore, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is a stunner with such intense, fast, and fluid action, so much so, you likely won’t notice the difference.


So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our five best Ninja Gaiden games of all time, ranked? Are there more Ninja Gaiden games we should know about? Please let us know in the comments or over on our socials here


Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.