Ninja Ryukenden: Miscellaneous Items

This is where I'll put all of the miscellaneous stuff that simply doesn't fit anywhere else. Ninja Gaiden has not been subject to too much in the way of marketing, but if I can find anything worth noting, I will include it here. If you know of something that's not here and can fill in the gaps, please email me.

Pronunciation Guide

Just click the link below to download a small MP3 containing the correct pronunciation of the word.

Ryu Hayabusa Jaquio
Gaiden Ryukenden Kitetsu

Ninja Ryukenden: The Anime
Title Manufacturer Release Date Duration 1-10 Rating
Ninja Ryukenden ?? 1995 50 minutes

I know what most of you are probably thinking. "What? There's a Ninja Gaiden anime? Where can I get it?" I thought the same thing when I found out about this... and I had many high hopes for this. But make no mistake, it doesn't get much worse than this horrible travesty. Allow me to explain in full.

The anime seems to fall somewhere between that of NG2 and NG3. Here's where the first of the big discrepancies come in. It obviously takes place after NG2, and yet Robert T.S. is still alive. While nothing is outwardly mentioned, they plainly show flashbacks of Jaquio using the Dark Sword of Chaos. HUH? "Continuity? Duuuh, what's that?"

The biggest problem is what they've done to the characters. The two main characters, Ryu and Irene, are totally wrong. Ryu is a complete jerk who barely ever speaks, and Irene is a shy, plain young girl, who is afraid to fire a gun. She's supposed to be in the CIA!!! Firing a gun should be second nature to her. At least in Ninja Gaiden III, she was portrayed as a hard-to-kill, tough type who wasn't afraid of the enemies Ryu faced.

The animation is decent, but nothing spectacular. Two new characters are introduced, by the names of Jeff and Sarah. While these two are moderately promising, and occasionally quite entertaining, the video is too short to give them much depth. Robert is the only character in the video who has any real degree of personality, and also has the only truly good line in the whole thing.

Curiously enough, the anime focuses more on Robert than it does on Ryu or Irene. Strange, that.

The premise, such as it is, has something to do with a scientist who has discovered a cure for cancer by conducting human experimentation in biotechnology. There's also some semblance of a subplot involving his daughter, but this is never explained. The sad thing is, neither is the premise. This video truly has NO plot. It has a premise which is completely devoid of development. There's really nothing else to say about it.

The action scenes are decent, but there's no purpose for them, so they seem forced. The music is also significantly less than memorable.

The Samurai Shodown anime almost looks good next to this turkey. Almost. You would think that, given the already-developed characters and existing storyline and background this series has, that they could have easily made a high-quality piece of animation work out of this. And you'd be right. They could have.

But they didn't. And it's a damn shame. Do NOT mail me and ask for a copy of this. I don't have the time, ability or inclination to make copies for everyone and his kid sister. You're better off not seeing it anyway. I regret it.

Oh, and that one good line that Robert has? Here you go... "Men love three things. We love fighting, we love alcohol, and we love women." There you go, now you won't have to endure the anime to get that one glimmer of enjoyment.

a magazine ad for the anime

Ninja Gaiden: The Novel
Title Author Publisher 1-10 Rating
Ninja Gaiden "F.X. Nine" Scholastic

Worlds of Power: Ninja Gaiden This is one of those rare oddities that turned up in the years gone by when the NES was king. Some group of folks decided they could make some money by producing unlicensed (read: illegal) novelizations of some of the more popular NES games of the day, such as Castlevania II, Blaster Master, and of course, our beloved Ninja Gaiden. Naturally, being the illegitimate productions that they were, they didn't last very long. Only about six or seven books were made, some of which were decent, others of which were very bad. Sounds about right.

It's also interesting to note that they never messed with any of Nintendo's games, only 3rd party licensee games. I guess no one wanted to mess with the big N's legal muscle back then.

Ninja Gaiden stays reasonably close to the plot of the game, and doesn't stray much, except for a few parts (and one extremely annoying part near the end). The plot is known to most of us by now (see the "Story" section if you don't know it). The author(s) made a bit of an effort to flesh out characters like Dr. Smith and Ken Hayabusa more, with mixed results. There is also dialogue with the various bosses of the game, like Basaquer.

Of course, since the books were aimed at children, they went out of their way to be nonviolent, which really negates much of the dramatic impact of the story. Also notice that the knife is airbrushed out of Ryu's hand on the cover. No one is allowed to get hurt or killed in the "Worlds of Power" series, and hence, the game's most poignant twist is lost... Ken Hayabusa miraculously shows up, alive and well, at the end. I felt somewhat cheated by that.

All in all, not a bad read. It's a good way to kill an afternoon, at the very least. It's also probably difficult to find without some scrounging (my copy is somewhere in my apartment, I just know it). So if you get the chance, pick it up. It's pretty entertaining.

Ninja Gaiden II: Nintendo Power Strategy Guide
Writer Release Date 1-10 Rating
Dan Owsen 1990

One of four "Strategy Guide" issues which Nintendo released in the earlier days of Nintendo Power, this was a fairly comprehensive guide to the intricacies of the second game in the series. It is filled with stage maps listing where and what all the powerups are, enemy listings, boss strategies, and even goes into detail about the plot.

One of the things which makes this particularly interesting is the original comic which was done to show the cinema scenes. of the game. While the art is decent, it's not exactly high-quality. Regardless, it's pretty cool to see the characters drawn (painted, actually) outside of a TV screen. There are also paintings at the beginning of each "act" which are all quite nice. Even if you've beaten the game to a bloody pulp, this book is worth picking up for the artwork and other miscellaneous information.

As an aside, this book lists Robert's last name as being "Sturgeon." I'm not sure how official this is, plus it sounds stupid, so I won't accept it as official unless Tecmo says it is. I hope it's not.

The guide also includes a small foldout poster, with a horrifically bad painting. Fine art it is not. My biggest complaint with this guide is that, as comprehensive as it is, it deliberately cuts off the last half of the final stage, and shows no strategies for the final bosses. I'm of the mind that a strategy guide should leave no stone unturned. People know what they're getting into when they get one, and if people want spoilers, let them have what they want. But oh well... aside from that, it's an excellent effort.

Ninja Ryukenden: Tecmo GSM-1
Title Manufacturer Release Date Catalog # 1-10 Rating
Ninja Ryukenden: Tecmo GSM-1 Pony Canyon February 1989 D28B0013

Ninja Gaiden CD cover One of two musical CDs released from the series, this one contains all of the music from the first NES Ninja Gaiden, as well as the arcade installment. The disc opens with an arranged medley of the better-known tracks from the NES game. This remix is pretty decent, but nothing too special. It then continues with what it calls "Grade Up" versions of the NES soundtrack... essentially NES recording with a tiny bit of added stereo separation, and one or two more FM sound channels, intended to add a little more dimension to the music. Much to my surprise, it actually works and does enhance the music pretty well. This is likely because it doesn't make use of bad PCM samples like the SNES renditions did.

The second half of the CD is taken up with tracks from the arcade game. Now, I was never a huge fan of the arcade game, so I don't have the attachment to its music that I do with the NES games, but it's decent enough. It primarily consists of Genesis-style FM synth with PCM drum samples, so it has a rather dirty sort of sound to it. One track stands out as being a major ripoff of "Iron Man," though, which is kind of funny.

Those hoping for a lavish official arranged album out of this disc will be sorely disappointed, as even with its slight improvements, it still falls squarely in the "OST" category, as game music CDs go. Still, one could do a lot worse.

Ninja Gaiden II Soundtrack CD
Title Manufacturer Release Date Catalog # 1-10 Rating
Ninja Ryukenden II: Ankoku no Jashinken Meldac April 1990 MECG-28004

Ninja Gaiden II CD cover The CD opens up with what is definitely its strangest offering... it's a fairly standard early-90s j-pop rendition of Ninja Gaiden II's closing credits music. It's not too terrible (as j-pop goes), but it's nothing particularly impressive. If nothing else, it sounds remarkably like fodder for an anime opening sequence. The rest of the tracks are more standard arrangements, ranging in quality from average to "pretty good." Unfortunately, very little of the album really stands out as being exemplary. If I had heard this back in 1990, it would have sounded better to me, but even back then, there were far better arranged albums coming out (ie. anything from Falcom). Nowadays, it doesn't really measure up. On the other hand, it is much better than the renditions heard in Ninja Gaiden Trilogy.

Primarily, the disc suffers from the problem of being not arranged enough. For the most part, the tracks are spruced-up NES music, looped several times each. Not exactly enthralling... the second track is most guilty of this. On the other hand, there are some that offer some more variety, like "The Dark Emperor," but for the most part, the tracks could all do with having been shorter.

Another issue with this CD is its running time and track selection. Even with the overly-long arrangements, it's still under 40 minutes, and it leaves out a lot of the best tracks. They could have easily gotten the entire soundtrack onto this disc with time to spare. I find it rather incomprehensible that they left out Thunderstorm, Overdrive and Fire Cavern in favor of World Enslaved and Unlimited Moment. Really, nothing should have been left out.

Given that NG2 contains my favorite tracks of the series, it's hard not to be a little disappointed by this disc. It's worth checking out, but it's definitely not what I was hoping it would be. I'd have been happier with another release like the original NG1 CD.