Shadow of the Ninja (1990)

by Nish
6 minutes read


Shadow of the Ninja: A Futuristic Ninja Epic for the NES

Released in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Shadow of the Ninja (known as Yami no Shigotonin Kage in Japan and Blue Shadow in Europe) is a side-scrolling action game that captivated gamers with its futuristic setting, challenging gameplay, and memorable soundtrack. Developed by Natsume, the game has become a cult classic and is regarded as one of the best ninja games ever made.

Story and Setting

Shadow of the Ninja takes place in a futuristic New York City, where the sinister organization known as the Zeed has seized control and plunged the city into chaos. Amidst this dystopian landscape emerges Hayate, a young ninja warrior who embarks on a perilous mission to rescue his kidnapped master and restore order to the city.

The game’s setting is a fusion of cyberpunk and feudal Japan, with towering skyscrapers adorned with neon lights and traditional Japanese architecture seamlessly integrated. This unique aesthetic creates a visually striking and immersive world that sets Shadow of the Ninja apart from other ninja games of its era.


Shadow of the Ninja is a side-scrolling action game that combines fast-paced combat with platforming elements. Players control Hayate as he navigates through a series of challenging levels, battling hordes of Zeed soldiers and overcoming deadly traps.

Hayate’s arsenal includes a sword, shurikens, and various ninja techniques. He can perform acrobatic jumps, climb walls, and use grappling hooks to traverse the environment. The game’s combat system is fluid and responsive, allowing players to engage in intense sword fights and unleash a variety of special attacks.

Levels and Bosses

Shadow of the Ninja features a diverse range of levels, each with its own unique challenges and visual style. From the neon-lit streets of New York City to the depths of a subterranean laboratory, Hayate must overcome a gauntlet of obstacles and defeat powerful bosses to progress.

The game’s bosses are particularly memorable, each with their own unique abilities and attack patterns. Players must carefully observe their movements and adapt their strategies to emerge victorious.

Graphics and Sound

Shadow of the Ninja showcases impressive graphics for its time, with detailed character sprites, vibrant colors, and fluid animations. The game’s backgrounds are particularly impressive, creating a sense of depth and immersion that was uncommon for NES games.

The game’s soundtrack is equally impressive, featuring a blend of traditional Japanese melodies and electronic beats. The music perfectly complements the game’s atmosphere, creating a sense of urgency and excitement.

Legacy and Impact

Shadow of the Ninja was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it has remained popular with gamers and collectors alike. The game’s unique blend of futuristic and feudal Japanese aesthetics, challenging gameplay, and memorable soundtrack have solidified its place as a classic of the NES era.

The game has also had a significant impact on the ninja genre, inspiring numerous other games and adaptations. Its fast-paced combat and acrobatic gameplay elements have become staples of the genre, and its futuristic setting has influenced countless other ninja-themed works.


Shadow of the Ninja is a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate gamers with its challenging gameplay, stunning visuals, and unforgettable soundtrack. Its unique blend of futuristic and feudal Japanese aesthetics sets it apart from other ninja games of its era, and its legacy continues to inspire developers and gamers alike. Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to the NES era, Shadow of the Ninja is an essential title that deserves a place in any gaming collection.

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