Shadow of the Ninja

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a game by Natsume
Genre: Platformer
Platform: NESNES
Editor Rating: 8.1/10, based on 6 reviews, 7 reviews are shown
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Ninja Games
  • Theme - Action
  • Machine - NES
  • Difficulty - Avg.
  • Players - 1 or 2
  • Number of Levels - 5
  • Available - April 1991

Hard Hitting Ninja Action!!

In 2029 A.D., the evil government of emperor Garuda has claimed many innocent lives. His impregnable fortress stands as a reminder to the frightened people that his will is supreme. All attempts of revolution have failed miserably. Is there no hope?

Meanwhile, Hayate and Lady Kaede, ninjas of the Iga clan, learn of Garuda's oppression. Enraged, they immediately begin their journey to America, set on the destruction of Garuda's empire once and for all!

Follow the Shadow Ninja quest through five increasing difficult levels and stop Garuda from conquering the world! Superb graphics and sound intensify this battle for freedom.

Evil Plans

Through cunning and power, Emperor Garuda seized control of the largest city in America. The year is 2029 A.D. So far, no army has been able to thwart Garuda's plans of world domination...

A desperate mission

Only the Shadow Ninjas, once thought of as legend, have a slim hope of overthrowing Garuda and restoring peace to the world...

Killer tank

The Killer Tank is easy, too. Hit the turret twice, then back off. Watch out for deadly air fire, however.

The Rooftops of the City

The Rooftops of the City requires split second timing and marvelous reflexes to complete. Extreme patience is a must when going up against the Boomerang Masters of this level. Try to hit their boomerangs in mid-air and then go for it!

Sometimes it is simpler to just avoid them completely and jump over them. Be sure to keep an eye out for the hidden bomb on this level. This level is also an excellent place to power up either the katana or the kusarigama weapons. Item boxes are around every turn, so take advantage of them! A hidden full life icon is also found near the end of this area, near the end boss, the Golden Samurai.

Take care, though, the worst is yet to come in Levels Four and Five!

The Air Fortress

The Air Fortress is but a stepping stone to get to Level Five, the Final Fortress. Having breached the city's defenses, Garuda has sent his ill most formidable warriors to stop you. Don't underestimate these foes as they pack a powerful punch and can take plenty of punishment! At the end of this level, you'll meet the near-invincible Captain Hawk!

The final fortress

This is it! The final obstacle to defeating Garuda once and for all! His troops defeated, Garuda now must depend on his automatic defenses and his own personal guards to show no mercy as you get closer to Garuda's lair. Beware you face in the first section of the Fortress. This level will time bombs were placed with meticulous care to stop your.

Ninja Magic!!

Hold down the attack button until the ninja magic flames the enemies! This uses half of your life, however...

Garuda AWAITS!!

Finally!! Now deep inside Garuda's Fortress, Hayate and Lady Kaede must pass his personal guards and reach the top of the citadel. Another surprise awaits there, however, as Garuda reveals his true self in a last attempt to destroy the Shadow Ninjas!!

Check out this awesome cast of characters!!

Naturally, since Garuda enjoys his position as Emperor, he'll do anything to keep the Shadow Ninjas at bay. He has taken precautions to guarantee his continuing dictatorship rule. He has been systematically "recruiting" his troops and qualified civilians to undertake cybernetic enhancement implantations in order to further his influence and power.

These robotic warriors show no mercy and feel no pain. Their only thought is to serve Garuda, and they have been ordered to stop the Shadow Ninjas at any cost! Nevertheless, Garuda's reign must be put to an end. Nobody ever said it would be easy...

Download Shadow of the Ninja


System requirements:

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

Game Reviews

While Natsume has been making great games for other companies for some time now, Shadow of the Ninja is the first game they are releasing here under their own name. In this spectacular side view ninja shooter you and a friend can cooperatively fight your way through five levels of an evil ruler's stronghold. Equipped with the standard sword grab the throwing stars or the sickle and chain as you progress from the sea port, through the sewers, to the rooftops onto the air fortress and finally to the ruler's inner sanctum. With unbelievably great graphics, smooth scrolling and very challenging intense game play, Natsume has one of the best NES games of the season!

It's 2029 A.D....

In the not too distant future things are very different than they are now. The U.S. is not a democratic society anymore as it is ruled by the Emperor Garuda. Many people have tried to overthrow Garuda but all efforts to penetrate his stronghold have failed. That is until now. Reports have reached Garuda that two ninjas of superhuman abilities have penetrated the outskirts of his compound's defenses. He now is worried but knows that you are coming. His army of soldiers awaits you. Despite this, you must infiltrate his 5 level fortress and finish the mission. Only then will peace be restored to the country.

You've done it! You're at the perimeter of Garuda's fortress and armed with the weapons of Ninjitsu - Katana (sword), Shu-riken (throwing stars) and Kusarigama (sickle and chain) you must now take on a constant barrage of ninja mercenaries dead set on finishing you off. Your skills are put to the ultimate test as your battles take you across a fleet of derelict ships, down through dark sewers, to the rooftops of his city, up into the skies on his air fortress and finally to his inner sanctum. The enemy necessarily becomes stronger as you approach Garuda, but you can even the score by picking up hidden scrolls which may be used for added firepower. Up to three scrolls can be used per weapon and each progressively increases the weapon's range and effectiveness. These, along with bombs and two types of healing potions are found inside Item Boxes located throughout your quest. Survive through an entire level, consisting of 3 separate stages, and you must then take on an end boss almost a full screen high! Beat him and move on to four more levels before you confront Garuda himself.

People say:


Shadow of the Ninja is a tremendous first effort from Natsume. The graphics and play action are incredible for this configuration (MMC1), and have all the action you'd expect in a first-rate title. Expect big things from Natsume!


This is a great Ninja fighting game that has more action than similar top-notch efforts like Ninja GaiDen! A lack of cinema displays hurts Shadow a little, but for intense fighting game play from start to finish, this is a winner!


Shadow is a very good ninja combat game. I love the concept and the game play and the graphics are some of the best considering it uses only MMC1. Shadow falls short as a two-player, however, with slow down and flicker.


NOT just another ninja game, but the best one since GaiDen! Two can play, but best as a lone ninja. I really like the characher animation and new moves that combine to make this non-stop entertainment!

Join two ninjas on their mission to overthrow the wicked Emperor Garuda. They must use the arts and weapons of ninjitsu to infiltrate and destroy Garuda's forces. "Natsume's latest (Shadow of the Ninja) is one of the finest NES games released this year or any other year." Video Games & Computer Entertainment, Dec. '90.

In a distant land there exists an evil ruler called Garuda. He rules his country like a dictator and many people do not like what he is doing and how he treats his subjects. Some have even tried to assasinate him however his army is powerful and all who tried have been swiftly executed. One day two ninjas infiltrated one of his bases and killed all of the enemy soldiers. You and a friend, in a cooperative 2 player game, must now break into the palace and once and for all put an end to Garuda. For weapons you start off with knives, throwing shurikens and a few grenades. Gather additional energy along your way and fight through 7 difficult vertical and horizontal scrolling levels to get to Garuda. The graphics are among the best ever in a NES game; the gameplay is very intense and an overall outstanding game.

Natsume has played a long and important role in the video game field as one of the leading cart developers in Japan. Their expertise comes from a talented staff with many years at successful companies such as Konami and Capcom. Now, the company is launching their own Nintendo titles in the states, highlighting their expert skills at producing action games with the release of their first game, Shadow of the Ninja.

Shadow of the Ninja displays the fine attention to play mechanics and technique that have made earlier Natsume entries instant favorites. In this one or two player game, you control a deadly duo of martial arts masters as they seek out to dislodge an evil dictator who has struck out to take over the entire world! With armies capable of fending off missile attacks and jet fighters, this silent pair have the advantage of stealth on their side, as you confront all types of high-tech soldiers and even more powerful Bosses.

Natsume expands on what might otherwise be a fairly ho-hum standard style action contest, by tossing in their usual dose of play interaction and coming up with a new technique that is very exciting! The lead characters in Shadow use special Ninja claws which allow them to secure themselves to the underside of not only the separate platforms that lead you through the rounds, but also on revolving areas and moving walkways. This small feature creates a much more challenging environment where escapes and quick-moving patterns replace the usual "walk-your-hero-in-front-of-wallpaper-backgrounds" mentality that populates the majority of similar carts.

That's not to say Shadow of the Ninja doesn't have great graphics or sound either. On the contrary, Shadow boasts some of the best visuals you'll see in this type of game. While this is high praise, Shadow of the Ninja is the kind of game that deserves the extra attention.

By the time Shadow of the Ninja reaches store shelves, there will be nearly a dozen NES games with the word "ninja" in the title--not to mention the countless other games that feature ninjas prominently. With such a large number of martial-arts contests already on the market, how can anyone get excited about yet another ninja adventure?

Easily. Natsume's latest is one of the finest NES games released this year or any year. Even if you've grown weary of the genre, you'll find it hard to deny that Shadow of the Ninja is a work of art. If this game doesn't get your heart pounding and your adrenaline flowing, then you're either very jaded or very dead.

Created in large part by a team of veteran designers who sharpened their skills on early Konami titles like Contra and Top Gun, this epic tells the tale of the evil Emperor Garuda and his 21st-century takeover of New York City. His only serious opposition comes in the form of two warriors of the Iga clan. Fighting alone as Hayate, or with the help of Lady Kaede in the two-player cooperative mode, you must breach the city's defenses and fight through five levels of gritty action before taking on Garuda in his lair. Hmmm...a female ninja? Great idea, but the unmistakably feminine warrior shown in the game's advertisements is reduced to an androgynous face on the "player select" screen, and during the actual game, Kaede can't be distinguished from Hayate except for the color of her clothing.

The Contra influence is readily apparent; for example, the music uses similar tempos and percussion sounds, and the two-player mode is immediately reminiscent of that title. There is some flickering and slowness in the busierareasof the game, but the overwhelming intensity of the action makes these flaws barely noticeable.

From the sharply detailed backgrounds to the digitized "YAH!" and "OOF!" sound effects. Shadow of the Ninja is a sensory delight that rivals many 16-bit games for pure video-game entertainment. And it's interesting to note that this awesome audio-visual assault has reportedly been created without the use of Nintendo's highly touted MMC technology.

In addition to the usual run/jump/slash play mechanics, the game includes some less-common features that are sure to keep players hooked. Most interesting is the ninjas' ability to jump up and cling to moving platforms and ceilings in certain areas. Once you've attached yourself this way, you can flip yourself up to the top of the surface you're hanging from, and back down again. This simple feature opens up a whole new realm of strategic possibilities in many areas.

The game also includes many hidden bonus items that aren't mentioned in the instruction manual. Some of these power-ups can increase the "reach" of your weapons, and certain others allow you to drop powerful bombs on your enemies. Spectacular boss characters are the icing on the cake, and a number of false endings and surprise twists are also to be found.

Though Shadow of the Ninja is an extremely tough game, it doesn't start out that way; there's a fair progression of difficulty from the earlier levels to the supreme challenge of battling Garuda. The game's biggest flaw is the familiar nature of its martial-arts storyline.

As an entertainment medium, video games are just as legitimate as books or movies, and there's no reason why the subject matter should be limited to spaceships, Ninjas and baseball. But Natsume shouldn't be criticized for bringing out "another ninja game," because Shadow of the Ninja is one of the best games of any genre.

Snapshots and Media

NES/Famicom/Dendy Screenshots