Television, Film, Video Games, and Music. The foundations of our media-oriented society and the building blocks of a mutual relationship that society has with its entertainment. Many can argue that trends in entertainment have a profound impact on societal trends, and others could argue the opposite. It can lead to a "chicken versus the egg" conundrum of what came first; the popularity of cheesy polyester leisure suits or the popularity of Miami Vice. All I know is that I worship at the altar of Don Johnson and don't trust anyone who doesn't.
So here I present a "chicken and the egg" question: how, why, when, where did America pick up its fascination with ninjas? Somewhere in the 1980's, films and video games were overrun with "Ninja" this or "Ninja" that. My best guess is that the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles played a key role in everything in the late 80's to early 90's being Ninja-centric, at least over here in America. You had films like Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja Vengeance, 3 Ninjas, Surf Ninjas, American Ninja, Zombie Vs Ninja, and more. Everything was ninja, ninja, ninja.
Circa 1992, every 5th movie I watched on Showtime was like this...
So naturally, much like every cold-war era Atari or Intellivision game being named "Space" something or "Star" something, you had no less than at least 10 Nintendo games that are directly related to the dark, mysterious art of Ninjutsu. Some of the games were groundbreaking and hugely influential (the Ninja Gaiden series) and others are confoundingly confusing (The Last Ninja.) Let's dig in!
|Truth in advertising! You jump through trees and everyone wants you dead!
|Grandma, this is sooooo NOT Ninja Gaiden!
|Do all ninjas have random thugs walking around in their dojos?
|It's like Chubby Cherub, but fun!
Those evil, evil dogs!
Ninja Kid does feel amazingly dated, but is a lot of fun in a similar style to the first Goemon game. Run around, jumping between platforms, shoot at enemies, wash, rinse, and repeat. There are minibosses and a map screen between levels that allows you to pick which level you want to play first. It's a lot of fun and is relatively dirt cheap compared to its uncommon sibling Chubby Cherub, so I recommend picking this one up!
|New APP coming: Zen: Intergalactic Fruit Ninja!
That's just round one of this two part series on Ninja games for the NES. Stay tuned as we recap some of the heaviest of heavy hitters and a few more hidden gems. You won't want to miss it!
Special thanks to my buddy James for the idea!