Ninjas have been an important part of Western Pop Culture for quite a while now. They dominated Action Cinema in the ’70s and ’80s, and as video game consoles arrived in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Ninja continued to be highly relevant.
Classic games like Shadow of the Ninja, TMNT: Turtles in Time, and Shinobi, provided us with an opportunity to experience our deepest Ninja fantasies with ease.
When Sony launched the Playstation 2 across the world in 2000, it brought an unprecedented change in the processing power and graphical fidelity that had been thought impossible just a few years before.
The result was a wave of unique titles with impressive graphics and engaging, never-before-seen mechanics; which made for some truly fun Ninja action gamers had never seen them before. Here is our list of
The Best Ninja Games on the PS2
Released in 2003 for the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube, I-Ninja was a wonderfully wacky 3D platformer action game. The kid-friendly graphics style and character design notwithstanding, players found I-Ninja a super challenging and highly rewarding game.
The rich and detailed environments were complemented by varied gameplay that kept players gaming for hours while they used their acrobatic abilities to navigate expansive 3D levels.
The big-headed main character, simply called Ninja, had an arsenal of assassins gear, from bouncing shurikens to explosive darts, as well as other more traditional ninja weapons like a sword and a variety of martial arts moves.
I personally spent hours upon hours trying to beat this game. It was wildly different, but also extremely rewarding. Definitely worth picking up if you still have a PS2 lying about.
Shinobido: Way of the Ninja
While most Ninja games of the early 2000s have you playing the more fantastical, action-oriented aspect of the Ninja Master, the next game on our list went for a totally different and awesome approach.
Shinobido places players in a fictional region of feudal Japan, called Utakata. Throughout the game, players control Goh, a deadly Ninja who has lost all his memories. In order to recover all of Goh’s memories, you will have to put his soul (which contains his memories) back together by completing a number of varied missions for three different feudal lords.
This was one of the first stealth mode games I played on the Playstation 2, and it BLEW my mind. Even though Goh is properly armed for battle with a short sword, as well as a plethora of shurikens, smoke bombs, and potions, in most circumstances the player is better off sticking to the shadows for a silent kill.
One really cool aspect that I enjoyed in Shinobido is the fact that you can control the challenge level of the game by developing your individual relationships with these Lords. The friendlier you get with each Lord, the easier the missions you receive.
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven
Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven, known as Tenchu 3 in the Japanese market, is the third installment in the highly successful third-person action/adventure video game saga about the stealthy warriors of the night.
The setting this time around is quite a bit darker than in the previous Tenchu games. Initially released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven was later ported to the Xbox under the title Tenchu: Return From Darkness.
The story this time around takes place right where Tenchu: Fatal Shadows leaves off (although Fatal Shadows comes out later). As in all other titles in the series, the game is based on using stealth and ninjutsu techniques to carry out various types of missions.
The main characters are again powerful Rikimaru and agile Ayame. You can also play as a new member of the team, a bruiser character called Tesshu, who is a vigilante/mercenary by night and a village doctor by day.
If you like slicing and dicing your enemies with your blade as you relentlessly stalk them from the shadows, then you will absolutely love Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven.
Yet another 3D, third-person action/adventure game makes our list of the best Ninja titles for the PlayStation 2. This time, it is Shinobi, a hack, and slash from the powerhouse of SEGA.
Shinobi always stood out for me due to the solid animation of the titular character. Hotsuma is able to combo through enemies, effortlessly running up and along walls, and basically being SEGA’s version of Dante from Devil May Cry.
The comparisons don’t end there, since Shinobi boasted an excellent soundtrack, as well as some truly memorable and extremely difficult bosses.
If you can deal with some repetitiveness and sudden difficulty spikes, Shinobi offers a tight combat/exploration gameplay loop that will keep you pushing forward for that “just one more stage” fix.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 5
The popular Naruto Shippuden series of arcade-style fighting games peaked with the release of the fifth installment: Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 5.
Over the years, each Jutsu title, a great game in its own right, kept expanding, iterating, and improving upon the previous entry in the series. Thus, Ultimate Ninja 5 is without a doubt, the best game in the series.
This entry in boasts the largest roster of playable characters thus far, the most original and well-written story of the bunch, and some truly exciting fight system alterations to set it apart from the competition.
I was addicted to this game when I bought it back in 2007.