A Look Back at – Ninja Gaiden (NES, 1989)

By: Hector Galbraith

So I’ve been away for a minute but I’m back. I had a ton of photos to catch up on and a very important subject to research. Ninja Gaiden developed by Tecmo for the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1988 in Japan and 1989 in North America. Hopefully taking a look back at things from the past and how they have aged can become a regular article series because as you will soon discover….some games will take you down a deeper wormhole than others. I recently took out the old NES system I have, bought the original game cartridge and started playing again myself after observing just how refined playing this game has become. One of the main questions I still have is “Did the games developers intend for the game to be completed exactly at the speed it is now being completed at in 2020?” Because the possible speed of completion and how refined speed runs of the game are, it’s tough to tell if the game is essentially “broken” or if the record speeds are a thing of pure intention by the games creators. Elements like getting hit on purpose to boost your speed and the ladder flips to climb even faster make me think it’s broken. But the overall millisecond timing and tightness of the runs lean toward it being all engineered by developers and refined perfectly during the games testing process. My guess is it’s a little bit of both making for an insanely difficult but at the same time, a ruthlessly addicting game experience. I’ve compiled some key videos on the subject. Enjoy!

A good place to start is with this video courtesy of Cinemassacre aka The Angry Video Game Nerd – YouTube. He gives a great breakdown of what a casual gamer might experience playing Ninja Gaiden.

If you dig deeper you will find a very well documented history of Ninja Gaiden Speed running fully compiled only 2 months ago by Summoning Salt – YouTube.

At the end of the day you will find Arcus – YouTube. The current world record holder and basically the only person still grinding to beat his own insanely refined record that will most likely never be beat by anyone. He dons an epic cowboy style appearance and is an extremely calm player. What do you expect from someone who has played the game through in the tens of thousands of times and grinds the game for up to 40 hours per week! Below is the current world record run, just over 11 minutes and 38 seconds.

You can currently find Arcus on Twitch … still grinding to improve his record. He has a ton of really funny slogans and inside jokes built into his Ninja Gaiden streaming experience. Go check it out here twitch.tv/arcus!

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