Ninja Gaiden 3: The Ancient Ship of Doom

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a game by Tecmo
Genres: Action, Adventure/RPG
Platforms: NESNES, Lynx
Editor Rating: 7.8/10, based on 8 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Ninja Games
Ninja Gaiden 3: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Ninja Gaiden 3: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Ninja Gaiden 3: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Ninja Gaiden 3: The Ancient Ship of Doom

If you think you're into video bushido and you've read this far without getting an adrenalin rush, then turn in your Nintendo Ninja Society membership card! You just "dissed" one of the most popular shadow warrior sagas ever!

New and Improved Ninjitsu

Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom continues Tecmo's saga of Ryu Hayabusa of the Dragon Clan and his one-man battle against the dark machinations and the gruesome forces of the demon, Ashtar. If you're a fan of the other Ninja Gaiden games, you must, repeat MUST take on this game. The single player action and the graphic style fall right in line with the previous Ninja Gaiden games (and that's pronounced" "guy" as in "hey, guy" -- "den") but it's much more difficult.

Irene Lew's missing in action again. This time Ryu Hayabusa's the prime suspect. Did Ryu off Irene? Well, you see him do it in the opening story scenes. The story sequences between stages are as sharp-looking and dramatic as ever, and the stage backgrounds are a knock-out.

ProTip: If you ever reach Stage 4- 1A look closely. The answer is "Yes".

Unfriendly Places

As usual Ryu's quest quickly becomes a massive bug-beast-and-bot hunt. A horde of creepy thingies backed by mean traps and nasty obstacles make this game the toughest Ninja Gaiden yet. Even things that are actually easy prey, such as the little grey bots, the flying robo-bugs, and the leaping howlers; become real pains, merely by their locations on a stage. As in the earlier episodes, position, timing, and knowing when to fight and run mean everything.

In the Desert the little round robots don't look powerful, but they take a toll. The Windmill Throwing Stars help.

You have to reach Castle Rock Fortress TO solve the mystery, and to get there you slash and dash through seven stages and 48 scenes of brain-busting action. The Stage 1 Lab is a pushover, but that's it. You'll go nuts everywhere else - the desert, a castle, two enemy bases, a swamp, a huge airplane, and roughly five different caves.

To make matters worse (and more fun), the forces of evil have recruited eight new bosses such as the pesky, flying robo-bug Night Diver, the double trouble Great Kogane, and the sneaky Sandeater.

To beat Stage 3's boss Great Kogane use the Fire Wheel and the Dragon Sword. When the clones first appear, immediately empty your Fire Wheel flame holts at either one of them. To dodge their throwing stars, wait until they toss them to make your moves.

Weapons Past and Present

Ninja Gaiden students will recognize most of the ninja arts. The slick Windmill Throwing Stars are as sharp as ever, the Fire Wheel and the electric Fire Dragon Balls are still a blast, and the Invincible Fire Wheel remains "hot" protection.

The new art is the Vacuum Wave, which shoots deadly energy blades simultaneously directly above and below you. Naturally, you need to grab Dragon Spirit Crystals to. power-up, but this time you can see what they are before you cut them down.

  • Don't forget if you use Windmill Throwing Stars, jump just before they return to bust a deadly move.

  • In the Swamp, the second power-up maxes out your Ninja power! The Vacuum Wave Art helps you get it.

  • Always grab Dragon Scrolls to increase total ninja arts power. That's critical!

A great new weapon is the Dragon God Sword. It's suspiciously similar to Strider's Cyber Sword, but it's the best all-around weapon. Unfortunately, Ryu's ghost ninja clones from NG-II have vanished.

In addition to Ryu's traditional repertoire -- running, crouching, somersaulting, and, of course, climbing -- he's got a slick new move where he jumps up to grab overhanging scenery, such as vines, or pipes, and pulls himself across it hand-over-hand or flips up onto it.

Doesn't sound like much, but you'll find that it is. And, at last, Ryu can flip to the top of a wall once he climbs it in a single, simple move.

  • As you work your way up through the vertically-scrolling Magma Cavern, try to bump up against the top of the screen. Jump onto ledges the instant a space appears and you'll get bad guys before they move.

  • You can easily make some enemies disappear by making the screen scroll past them. For example, “erase” Piranhas attacking you from behind in the Swamp by quickly running ahead of them until they disappear.

  • On vertically-scrolling levels you can make pulsing energy balls fall below you if you make the screen scroll down over them as soon as they appear. This help in the Stage 3-2C cavern.

Did we mention that this game's a toughie? And this time around continues are limited to five (still 3 lives and 15 life points, though). "Passwords?" you ask Bite your tongue.

To snatch that enticing 1-Up in the Swamp, first move to the left of the moving platform to get the Piranha. Then move right until one foot is off the platform. Finally, slash the 1-Up and grab it in midair as you jump to the next platform.

Thinking of Ryu

If you like ninja fighting, this is a no-brainer. Go for it. Even the sounds rate above average for Ryu's "hili-yahs" alone.

Tecmo hints that this is the final chapter of NES Ninja Gaiden (which, by the way, roughly translates as "Tale of a Ninja in a Foreign Land". But before you run out and commit seppuku, consider this: Maybe ending Ninja Gaiden is okay. Maybe Ryu should finally hang up his sword and find peace. Maybe Irene should enjoy life instead of always losing it. Maybe Ashtar should just chill out... Nahhhhh1!

Download Ninja Gaiden 3: The Ancient Ship of Doom


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • P-200, 32 MB RAM

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Ryu is back for the final installment of the Gaiden trilogy. With the same type of action as the first two carts, Gaiden 3 carries on the continuing adventures of Ryu Hyabusa and his dragon sword. This time, Ryu is up against an enemy tougher than any he has faced before. It includes all new bosses, enemies, and original levels and music. If you enjoyed the first two, then get ready for number 3!

People say:


What has to be the best of the GaiDen series, The Ancient Ship of Doom makes up for both the lack of difficulty and awkward controls that kept previous GaiDen games from being full tens! The theme has worn a little thin, but the action, sounds and graphics are still top notch!


Now this is a sequel! All of the classic power-ups and combat skills of the ninja master of the 8-bit market have still been retained. An all new novelistic plot has been added, along with new cinema displays as well. Everything from bosses to background are truly stupendous!


This is a player's game. Only 3 continues make this the perfect cart for those who've mastered the first two carts. Warning: this is a high stress cart, not recommended for wimpy gamers. Boasts great graphics and cool music, although the cinemas are kind of cheesy.


Ninja Gaiden 3 is a worthy challenge for anyone who has finished the previous quests. The graphics are the same, the music has that Ninja Gaiden "feel," and the control is comparable. I especially like the new power-ups and the cool levels. With only 3 continues, it's rough!

Ninja Gaiden III's a blast from the past in more ways than one. This is a faithful Lynx adaptation of the third adventure in the classic NES ninja series that helped define the term hack-n-slash. Unfortunately, you need ninja vision to see all the power-ups, monsters, and bad guys because of the tiny Lynx display.

Unkind Cuts

The Ninja Caiden tale of revenge transcends time as well as video game systems. An evil being spawned at the dawn of civilization descends on modern mankind to build the Empire of Darkness. Ninja Ryu Hayabusa takes his powerful Dragon Sword to avenge his father's death at the hands of the Empire.

A Fighting Tradition

The traditional side-scrolling fighting formula still works here. You charge through four sizzling side-view Acts into a ravenous horde of monsters, robots, and creatures run amuck. Then the demon/robot end-level bosses knock you silly.

The crisp Lynx controls prove that two buttons and a directional pad still produce great game play. Ryu climbs walls, swings hand-over-hand, and pulls a life-saving somersault. Attack moves include sword slashing and Ninja Arts attacks from hanging and climbing positions.

In addition to the thumb-blistering swordplay, the fighting strategy involves your ability to choose and use six Ninja Arts, which you chop down as icon orbs. The Windmill Throwing Stars, Dragon Spirit Sword, and the Invincible Fire Wheel are among the deadly weapons that fry the bad guys and make Ninja Gaiden fans nostalgic.

Hard on the Eyes

Gaiden III's ninjitsu loses some of its magic to teeny Lynx graphics. It's nearly impossible to read the Ninja Arts icons, and using the right Art at the right time is the key to fun and strategy in the game. Moreover, enemy firepower can be too small for you to see or avoid. What's worse is that Caiden students will go nuts when they're unable to see the cool creature sprites.

If you like weird and spacy audio, however, Ninja Gaiden's sounds will grow on you. Even Ryu's repetitive grunts sound clean (and they don't get on your nerves).

I'll Be Seeing Ryu

If you're an action gamer who doesn't like Ninja Gaiden, you belong in the video game nerd-house. However, this version adds eyestrain and nerve-twinging challenge to wither the will of all but the most determined Gaiden followers. Oh please, don't let it end here!


  • To defeat the Manhss Warrior at the end of Act 1, remember that he drops rolling fire In groups of three. Hop over the triple threats, then run up and slash!
  • The Dragon Spirit Sword is your handiest and most versatile weapon.
  • Jump over the Windmill Throwing Star when it makes its return run to you to complete a cool-looking and effective rear attack.
  • Ninja Scrolls are critical power-ups you shouldn't pass up.
  • In a pinch you make some regular beasties disappear by just scrolling the screen past them.
  • In the Desert Act 2 the little 'hots in the sand are deadly. You can only blast them in the air.

Thrilling new cinema screens

Follow the story Ryu's epic adventure through TECMO's movie-like cinema screen animation. As you complete each level, a new part of the story unfolds.

Exciting new power and weapons

Over the years Ninja Ryu's fighting skills have improved to induce fantastic new powers and weapons.

Action packed Ninja adventure

Can you get Ryu through his most challenging last adventure, as he battles the hideous ancient forces of darkness to save mankind?


  1. Game continue mode
  2. 5 Special weapons
  3. 6 Power-ups
  4. New cinema screens
  5. 8 New "Bosses"
  6. New action techniques
  • Manufacturer: Atari
  • Machine: Lynx
  • Theme: Action
  • No. of Levels: 8
  • Release: Apr 1994

People say:


Ninja Gaiden plays a lot like the NES classics. The game plays especially well for the small screen. The blurring inherent to the system is pretty bad, particularly because your character is so small. The magic is really easy to use, and it helps out tremendously. Ninja Gaiden is a good title to pick up if you have a Lynx. If you can bear the blurring, you will be in for a real treat. Games like this don't come out often.


How's this for a surprise? Ninja Gaiden III is a decent translation from the popular series. Play control is very good with precise movements. The graphics are simply brilliant on the Lynx's great screen. There are lots of hidden surprises to find and the magic really helps out in tight situations. But, alas, the characters are microscopic, making the game almost a chore to play. A rare gem but a bit tarnished.


Ninja Gaiden is a game that the Atari Lynx has been longing for. Like its Nintendo counterpart, Ninja Gaiden has great game play that exceeds many of the other action games in this genre. The sound, 8-Bit, is OK and gets the player hyped. The problem I run into is the small characters. They are so small that you can't tell where you are sometimes. Anyone with a Lynx should pick this one up.


This game has some of the qualities as the NES version which had some fun action scenes. Game play is pretty decent for a portable but the character is a bit hard to keep track of due to its small size and somewhat blurry look. However, the sounds are decent and the control is pretty good. From one ninja to another it's an average game. If you're a fan of the series, then this portable cart is for you.

  • Manufacturer: Tecmo
  • Machine: NES
  • Number of Levels: 7
  • Theme: Action
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Available: July 1991

He Third Time's A Charm!

Finally, the third chapter of the Ninja Gaiden saga is here! Undoubtedly one of the most popular series to appear on the NES, Ninja Gaiden just gets better every time! In this story, Irene is apparently killed by a ninja going by the name Ryu! The real Ryu must set out to find this renegade ninja and discover his plan. Along the way, he must search laboratories, castles and passageways! Ryu has some new tricks up his sleeve, however. Now Ryu can grab some platforms from below and he can also gain a longer sword. He has a new magic which shoots waves of force vertically, up and down. He'll need all the power he can muster for this journey!

Level One

At last! Ryu has reached the lab that Irene was investigating!

Once there, he is attacked by a new group of enemies and finds a new array of power-ups.

Level Two

After checking out the strange lab, Ryu meets a shady character who needs him to go to the Castle Rock. The reason why eludes Ryu, and the man won't explain. All will be clear in Level Two!!

Level Three

Guess what? Forrester makes his usual grand entrance! He has a dangerous mission for Ryu that involves the mysterious Castle Rock, known for its various traps and pitfalls. On to Level Three!

Level Four

The mystery deepens with the appearance of a ninja dressed like Ryu! Can you help Ryu discover the truth?? On to Level Four!

It's tough to keep a good ninja down, and NES martial artists know Ryu Hayabusa of the Dragon Clan is a great ninja. Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom will materialize any day now. Here's what we've dug out of the game so far.

A Ninja with Attitude

Ace Ninja Gaiden CIA analyst Irene Lu uncovers another world-threatening plot, but once again the bad guys find her out, too. (Somebody get that girl a good disguise kit!) Poor Irene plunges to watery doom courtesy of her assassin -- Ryu Hayabusa!

It looks bad for our favorite Nintendo ninja as he takes the rap for Irene's murder, but did he or didn't he do it? Even he's not exactly sure what's going on.

Basic Video Ninjitsu

Ryu's quest to avenge Irene, clear his name, and bring the evil dudes to justice takes him across the usual Ninja Gaiden landscapes. This third episode of the Ninja Gaiden saga covers seven deadly stages, each divided into multiple rounds of martial arts action. Ryu's adventure takes him to far out and far-flung locales such as a hellacious high-tech bio-lab, a castle fortress, a scorching desert, inside a lava-filled cavern, and through a murky swamp.

Naturally, Ryu dishes out a slew of Ninja Arts, which he can grab after he downs adversaries. There are six weapons in all including the familiar Fire Dragon Balls and the Fire Wheel. The new weapons are a Strider-like power sword and double chopping blades that rip through the air above and below you. This time around, too, he can jump up, grab some scenery, and scurry horizontally hand-over-hand.

Graphics stay right in step with the other Ninja Gaiden games. That means great Japanese-style, vertically and horizontally-scrolling graphics. You'll dig the multi-scrolling scenery, too. And, of course, no Ninja Gaiden game would be complete without those dramatic story sequences between stages.

Ryu's Rules

Will Ryu find out what happened to Irene? Will he dig out the evil power behind the vicious evildoers? What is the Ancient Ship of Doom? Will Irene return from the dead for Ninja Gaiden IV? Gee, Ninja Gaiden III raises a lot of questions. But the answers, as always, are at your fingertips.

Without a doubt, one of the most popular Nintendo games to ever appear is Tecmo's Ninja GaiDen. Along with its sequel, The Dark Sword of Chaos, Ninja Ryu Hayabusa and his close friends have helped defeat evil and retail order. In addition to mixing some of the hottest scrolling action with an incredible assortment of weaponry, GaiDen successfully continues the saga with story intermissions that are played out in vivid detail. Set for a summer release in Japan, GaiDen 3 looks to be quite posssibly the greatest GaiDen of them all!

Snapshots and Media

Atari Lynx Screenshots

NES/Famicom/Dendy Screenshots