NINJA GAIDEN on the NES!

Here’s a little tale about gaming and me before I get into the main focus of the article (you’ll see some of these reflective bits as I start this site just to give you people who don’t know me an idea where I’m coming from when tackling these write-ups).

I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I was addicted to my cousin’s Colecovision when I visited him in Ottawa (I tear up when I remember playing The Smurfs game). I played game after game on my Commodore 64 and I absolutely loved going over to other people’s places to play their Nintendo Entertainment System. The good ol’ NES!

I didn’t receive a Nintendo from my mom until just before Mario 3 came out but that didn’t mean I was any slouch when it came to NES gaming. One of my buds lived behind me, and I spent my Grade 7-9 years at his place almost every night, most of the weekends, and in the summer playing video games. OK. I got outside to play a bit, too, but gaming and music (along with horror movies) was my youth.

During the time I didn’t have an NES, I probably beat every single game my friend had. There was a time he got a game (I can’t remember which one) for his birthday and I got over there one day before he got home from school and beat the game by the time he walked downstairs. He wasn’t happy.

So with my love of gaming, I still think the 8-bit and 16-bit era (NES/SNES) are still some of my cherished times. That’s not saying I don’t love or have games in my top 10 of all time from current or last gen systems, it’s just that these were just great times for gaming. One of my favourite games of all time is NINJA GAIDEN.

Ninja Gaiden came out in the arcade in 1988 by Tecmo.  They also put out a NES game around the same time. The NES game wasn’t a port of the arcade, although they shared the same hero, Ryu Hayabusa.

I’ve never played the arcade version, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. I didn’t even realize that it was available on the Wii’s Virtual Console, so I may have to download it on my Wii-U.

The NES game featured superb storytelling from cut scenes that feature stellar artwork and music. From what I remember when I read features about this game over the years is that this is one of the first games that actually had storytelling unfold in such a manner.

title screen

The story, in a nutshell, is that Ryu travels to American because he’s looking to avenge his father’s death. As he is searching for clues, he gets involved with characters that have a statue that they’re protecting because a character named “the Jaquio” wants to release a demon from it and another statue.

revenge cut scene

Ryu finds out more and more information about Jaquio, the statue and, of course, his father’s death, as you move through the levels.

Jaquio

The statueWhile the cut scenes for the story were breathtaking back in the day, it was the game play, the graphics and the tunes that came together to make for an amazing gaming experience that I still cherish today. I play this game a couple of times each year.

random cut scene

Ryu and Irene meeting for the first time.

The first couple of levels are pretty easy, but you can still end your experience early by not navigating level 2-1 properly.  With spot on controls and memorizing where the characters spawn, you shouldn’t be too bad until level 6…especially 6-2 with one of the HARDEST jumps (and enemy traps) in any game. I’ve been playing this mo-fo since I was 11 and this is still one of those spots where I want to take my NES controller and whip it across the room to smash it into pieces.  No matter what, I STILL come crawling back for more.

Fave boss

My favourite boss. He was easy to kill, but I love his design.

One last little note before I wrap it up: I’ve NEVER beat this game and I just don’t know why!  By the time I get to (spoilers) Jaquio floating around, I usually just have enough to take him out, but then when he morphs for the third time, my poor Ryu just doesn’t have enough juice in him.  I’ve beat some of the toughest NES & SNES games in a time where we had no Internet for cheats (we just had Nintendo Power!). I’ve beat the Xbox and Xbox 360 versions of the relaunch of Ninja Gaiden – with lots of swearing and downing beers, of course…but I did it. What about Ninja Gaiden 2 and 3 on the NES? I beat them, too. Every year I tell myself when I go back to the original game, “this is the year,” and this year will be no different. Hopefully I’ll score a screen shot when I’m victorious.

Jaquio boss 1

Jaquio boss 2

Jaquio boss 3-1

Jacquio boss 3-2

The many forms of Jaquio

If you haven’t played this game, do it. If you just want to see what I’m talking about, go on YouTube and watch people do walk-throughs – it’s only about a 40 min or so game if you watch the cut scenes. If you want to really see some stellar shit, watch some speed runs. Those are nuts. Perhaps down the road, I’ll jump on the bandwagon and buy one of those devices where it can record me playing and I can do some commentary for the YouTube channel, just like my fave guy on there, Robbaz. Check that guy out if you haven’t.

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