Groups

 

Ninja

Creatures entity

Includes stealthy assassins, saboteurs, spies, or scouts of Japanese origin who are skilled in martial arts, especial alternative arts of war.

424
games
73
platforms

Alternate names: Ninjas, 忍者, Shinobi, 忍の者, Shinobi-no-mono, くノ一, Kunoichi

The first video game about Ninja was released in 1983.

Konami, Sega and System 3 has published most of these games

"Ninja" is both singular and plural, "Ninjas" is also an acceptable form of plural in the English language.
Possibly related tags:
Espionage
Stealth
Riding

Videogame ninja tend to be stereotypical; Males wearing all black with only the eyes uncovered, carry a katana (typically curved), and using throwing stars to kill opponents at a distance. For now, this tag refers to these as well as real ninja.

Of special note, at one time any 'Ninja' was censored in the United Kingdom. The word itself was banned. This leads to many alternate titles such as Shadow Warriors for Ninja Gaiden and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Real ninja reputedly tend to carry a ninjatō or wakizashi. A ninjatō is straight and much shorter than a katana, to the point of some being as short as daggers. Wakizashi is simply a shorten katana (30–60cm). These smaller blades are used for ease of concealment and agility in confined spaces.

'Throwing stars' are a particular type of Shuriken, a hand-concealable blade/weapon. Shuriken are typically thrown and designed for throwing, but some can also be used as caltrops or even wielded for stabbing and slashing. Hand-concealable doesn't necessarily mean it cannot be seen, but means it is not likely to be perceived as a weapon. Some are modified nails, stakes, coins, washers, or carpentry tools. They are also not typically a primary lethal weapon. Rather they are a supplemental weapon to cause, pain, injury, and/or distraction allowing the wielder a better opportunity to kill the victim with his main lethal weapon or to quickly escape an encounter that interferes with the ninja' mission. Targets of shuriken would be the exposed areas of a target, even when armored, such as eyes, hands, feet, genitals, and other unprotected non-lethal targets. They were also rigged to explode, ignite, provide light, provide signals, and poison victims when thrown or merely concealed as a trap (a shuriken could be skillfully thrown to wait as a trap, for instance, it embedded in a wall above a door and also in the door frame simultaneously, so as to fall on or near the opener later). There are also reports that they were purposefully used cause tetanus infections in victims; not a particularly action-packed cause of death for videogames. The also tend to be low-cost one-use weapons, very few were preserved for history.

Real ninja are historically dishonorable, employed by 'honorable' leaders to employ tactics they do not want to use themselves.


Real ninja did not typically wear all-black outfits. They wore what was stealthy for the occasion. Like Shuriken, it was about not being perceived as a threat, and not necessarily not being seen. Generally they wore peasants clothing. When stealth was not an issue, they wore Samurai armor (they also passed themselves off as Samurai on occasion, so it was sometimes about stealth). For practical purposes when expecting a fight, they'd wear a kobakama and a lightweight jacket for unrestricted movement and would hide by other means other than visual indistinctiveness. Kote and suneate might be added for protection. To hide their identity, they might very well don a black cowl during an attack the way a criminal would user a ski-mask, hood, sock, or other mask.
The all-black uniform comes from kabuki theater. In kabuki, stagehands wear all black to blend in with the black background so they can assist the actors live with minimal intrusion on the show. Of course the audience can see the stage hands, they just prefer to maintain suspension of disbelief and enjoy the show. The performers would toy with this notion by having one of the supposed stage hands jump out and attack. Thus revealing themselves to be an 'invisible' ninja and part of the show, not part of the crew.

Stealth and concealment was not just about being not being perceived. Ninja had secret identities to lead Clark Kent style lives when not 'on duty'. A few were rumored to have become samurai (a ninja' main enemy and/or main customer) while concealing their true ninja identity. At the same time, they eliminated competition in samurai organized ninja hunts while deflecting such hunts from their own organizations.

Real ninja supposedly favor Buddhism, legend tells of ninjutsu training originally being a gift from a Buddhist monk to a Japanese leader.

Real ninja did not necessarily discriminate against females joining their ranks, though there were significant gender role differences. A typical female ninja would broker information by becoming a house servant of a target. Seduction was another tool used by female ninjas. Though male ninjas could become servants and seduce either sex, just like the females. The gender roles seem to have been an unenforced matter of preferences. Certainly they did not discriminate in their victims.

With the advent of Ninjutsu (which was illegalized), Ninja became a counter-culture movement where the rules of mainstream culture could be cast aside by members as long as it did not counter the rules of the ninja organization they belonged to. The common rule for all groups seems to have been secrecy.

Probably one of the most surprising revelations among outsiders is when they learn that ninja commonly used guns. "Pyrotechnics and explosives" are one of the ninjutsu disciplines. This was not limited to starting fires or distracting enemies with a loud noise or blinding flash. They make use of bombs, canons, blunderbusses, rifles, and pistols. In typical ninja style, these look line ordinary items up until the moment that its too late for the victim realize what it is. Rifles and pistols are often made to look like swords and daggers or even less threating looking weapons like a wooden staff.


  1. Seishin-teki kyōyō (spiritual refinement)
  2. Taijutsu (unarmed combat, using one's body as the only weapon)
  3. Kenjutsu (sword fighting)
  4. Bōjutsu (stick and staff fighting)
  5. Shurikenjutsu (throwing shuriken)
  6. Sōjutsu (spear fighting)
  7. Naginatajutsu (naginata fighting)
  8. Kusarigamajutsu (kusarigama fighting)
  9. Kayakujutsu (pyrotechnics and explosives)
  10. Hensōjutsu (disguise and impersonation)
  11. Shinobi-iri (stealth and entering methods)
  12. Bajutsu (horsemanship)
  13. Sui-ren (water training)
  14. Bōryaku (military strategy)
  15. Chōhō (espionage)
  16. Intonjutsu (escaping and concealment)
  17. Tenmon (meteorology)
  18. Chi-mon (geography)

Parent group

NPC occupations

Child group

Ninja protagonist

Platforms

NES 44
Linux 33
C64 29
Amstrad CPC 23
ZX Spectrum 22
MS-DOS 19
Windows 18
Arcade 17
Amiga 15
PS2 13
Atari ST 13
Nintendo DS 12
X360 9
MSX 9
Master System 9
GBA 8
GameCube 8
GB 8
Mega Drive 8
Xbox 6
Wii 5
PCE 5
PS 4
3DS 4
SNES 4
Tandy Coco 4
PSP 4
Android 3
Game Gear 3
Famicom Disk System 3

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