One of the most known Dragon Ninja ever Ryu Hayabusa is the main character of the legendary Ninja Gaiden game franchise, created and developed by Japanese company Temco. This former arcade game was adapted to gaming consoles and until this day is still one of the most notable gaming franchises ever. Besides it being cool, Ninja Gaiden also built a reputation of being extremely difficult. In this article, we will rank the hardest Ninja Gaiden games ever.
We will further explain our reasoning why we think a certain game is more difficult than others, go through fan reception of the games and analyze further if the Ninja Gaiden games are considered the hardest to play in the world. Moreover, we will discuss old games but will focus on the modern series in our ranking because more people played them, and are more recent.
3. Ninja Gaiden/Black/Sigma/Sigma Plus
First Ninja Gaiden is a masterpiece. It is an action-adventure game released in 2004 as a revival series and the title was developed five years before its release. The developer of the game Tomonobu Itagaki, and his Team Ninja put everything in this game, and it shows when you play it. Ninja Gaiden, of course, experienced high sales numbers and critical acclaim. The upgraded version came out a year later called Ninja Gaiden Black, with new modes and features in the game.
The Sigma version of the game for PlayStation was released in 2007, and this version was had its graphics polished and reworked to highest possible standards, and it even enabled few characters to be playable in the Ninja Gaiden. The main character of the game, Ryu Hayabusa, is also a main character in other Team Ninja’s game, Dead or Alive fighting game series.
When it comes to the gameplay and difficulty of the game, Ninja Gaiden franchise is tough in every aspect and first installment of the modern series of this historic game does not start to torture until you get to the fifth act of the game.
Players all agree that first Ninja Gaiden is probably the easiest game out of the rest because it is trying to introduce the player to the game’s basics and mechanics. Well, new and inexperienced players struggled the most because the game’s creator Tomonobu Itagaki made it even more difficult. Critics called it as one of the best most challenging action-adventure games ever made, and that it sets a new standard for third-person action games of the future, especially when it comes to gore, length, depth and other aspects of the game.
Even though that was the case back in 2004, players who played all the games of the modern released trilogy agree that first Ninja Gaiden, while still being very difficult, does not surpass other games in the franchise, and you know what, who to believe more than the gamers themselves. So yes, the first installment of the franchise, Ninja Gaiden is still easier to play than the rest, that is why it on the thirds spot.
2. Ninja Gaiden II/Sigma 2
Ninja Gaiden II is a sequel to the first installment of the modern series Ninja Gaiden, and was released in 2008, and the plot of the game is set two years after the original, Ninja Gaiden. This game was also critically acclaimed and this time the players could play with other characters and use new features of the game.
The original Ninja Gaiden game was “gorry” but Ninja Gaiden II is considered as one of the bloodiest games in gaming history. Tomonobu Itagaki did not hold himself back, and even after the player feedback who said that the original Ninja Gaiden was really difficult, he made the sequel even harder to play. Besides bloody excessive gore that was censured in some countries and even some of it removed in the PlayStation version of the game, the violence, fast-paced combat, and just overall difficulty of the game, critics gave Ninja Gaiden II positive reviews and feedback.
However, most critics agreed that Ninja Gaiden II is not better than the first one and that it failed to recapture the same charm and acclaim of the original, and even sometimes criticized that Ninja Gaiden II did not add anything revolutionary to the game. Despite all of that criticism, Ninja Gaiden II to this day is one of the best third-person games ever made.
This is probably a little controversial take because Ninja Gaiden II was always considered one of the hardest games ever made. However, when we go to the third installment of this successful franchise, we will provide you with our reasoning.
1. Ninja Gaiden 3/Razor’s Edge
Finally, we have Ninja Gaiden 3, probably the “worst” game of the trilogy. However, just because it was worse than other games, Ninja Gaiden 3 is not a bad game at all. The absence of the Tomonubu Itagaki for the first time was really felt in the game, and the critics noticed it as well. Ninja Gaiden 3 was released in 2012, as a sequel to Ninja Gaiden II – unfortunately, the game received “only” mixed reviews from the critics.
One of the biggest criticism was aimed at the fact of Ninja Gaiden III is too streamlined. Still, the game got positive reviews for its combat and graphics. The ending got both fans and critics on edge and it was not favorably received.
Players who actually played all three games in the Ninja Gaiden modern franchise offer different views but most of them agree that the third installment of the franchise is the most difficult one because if you make a mistake, the game will punish you heavily. Heavily criticized end boss fight was actually considered by players as one of the hardest stages of the game, because of the tight timer, methodical platforming, and just overall hard-to-beat final boss.
Ninja Gaiden’s 3 enemies deal the most damage of all previous game’s enemies, and just weird and unusual mechanics of the game felt off for most of the players. Why is this game the hardest on the list? Well, besides a few stages that made players lose their minds, the overall feel of the game is not what previous games offered to the players. Weird and new mechanics could’ve been better, and the story which was never lacking in Ninja Gaiden games, here fell flat.
Most gamers will agree, that if you play a game franchise for years, and stumble upon one game that is just so off for you, you will probably have difficulty playing it. Personally, that happened to me as well in the Batman Arkham series – all games were amazing, but Batman: Arkham Origins was hardest for me because it was so hard to get into it and the story felt really different from the rest of the games. That is why Ninja Gaiden 3 is the hardest game of the franchise.
Is Ninja Gaiden One of the Hardest Games Ever?
Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls, God Hand, Super Meat Boy, Rick Dangerous, Time Crisis, and many others, are considered by the gaming community as one of the hardest games ever to play. Ninja Gaiden games definitely belong to this group. It is extremely hard in terms of gameplay, enemies, final bosses, and just overall game mechanics that can make gamers lose their minds – and it did so for years.
Even the main developer of the game Tomonubu Itagaki, made his mission to make Ninja Gaiden one of the hardest games ever released, and he definitely succeeded.
How Hard Is the Original Ninja Gaiden?
Even though we made a list for modern Ninja Gaiden games, we need to mention the ones that started everything. Original Ninja Gaiden games were formerly arcade games turned and adapted into games for NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and boy were they difficult. You see, back in the day, old gaming systems, in this case, NES, did not have a “Save” option for their games – the platform just did not have big enough capacity to afford that option. Because of that, developers needed to look for a way for players to last longer in their games.
So, they just made games unbearable and difficult for the players who, if they die, need to do everything from the beginning, enemies will swarm from all sides, and overall, just ridiculous AI that would make players’ lives miserable. There was even a story about the game developers thinking the games were too easy because, during the process of making them, game devs actually became experts in the game they were developing.
All in all, the games were extremely difficult and there is a reason why older gamers say that newer generations of the games don’t hold water to the old ones when it comes to difficulty. Well, maybe this time they are really right.