If players manage to lead Ryu to the end of the Act, they confront Basaquer in a cave. This third boss is actually more in line with what one would imagine a villain in a ninja game would look like. Though described as a Chinese assassin, Basaquer is reminiscent of an armored ninja and fights by leaping back and forth across the screen, throwing explosive pellets at Ryu. Defeating him regains the statue, but once Ryu returns to Walter’s cabin, he finds the archaeologist murdered and the other statue missing. Once again, Ryu is taken into custody by several CIA agents and brought before their boss, a man named Foster.

Foster gives even more backstory, revealing that Walter and Ken had located the statues in an ancient temple in the Amazon, but that a mysterious man, the Jaquio, has recently taken control of the sacred place and intends to release the demon Jashin from the statues. As CIA men have a tendency to do, Foster asks Ryu to eliminate Jaquio and has the ninja flown out to South America. Another round of soldiers, ghouls, panthers, and more of those damn birds leads to players to Act 4-2. Now, for me and many other gamers, this particular stage stands out due in part to the new enemies, but mostly for the epic music. Entitled “Master Ninja Theme” and alternatively known as “Basilisk Mine Field,” I truly must urge you to listen to the original version by Keiji Yamagishi, Ryuichi Nitta & Ichiro Nakagawa. Once you’ve heard the epic 8-Bit classic, then you simply must give the covers by FamilyJulez7X and Jonny Atma a listen. Your ears will thank you!


Now then, the new enemies introduced in Act 4-2… Here players find themselves confronted by evil ninjas garbed in green who leap down from the top of the stage, jump over Ryu, then proceed to run back and forth. There’s also the freaky mangled men that run and leap at Ryu, the pumpkin headed (yeah, you read that right) knife throwers, flying ninjas that throw shuriken, homunculus-type enemies that throw spinning blades like Bomberhead, and then the oddest cameo I’ve ever seen… Jason Voorhees himself shows up to fling axes at Ryu! Somehow we’ve gone from gun toting mercenaries to a supernatural nightmare… though, the question does deserve to be asked; who would win, Ryu or Jason?


After making your way through my favorite stage in the game, players fight through more new baddies, shaolin-looking men that throw maces, kicking specialists, and dragon heads that spit fire. Waiting for Ryu at the end of this Act is the Jaquio’s faithful pets, Kelbeross, a pair of demonic dogs that actually offer the first easy boss fight since the Barbarian. With the demonic pooches dispatched, Ryu finds himself face to face with Jaquio, who reveals that he’s captured Irene and demands the other statue. As a man of honor, Ryu obviously turns over his statue and is rewarded by being dropped into a pit of evil, while the big man informs Irene that she will serve as the sacrifice to release Jashin.


In the next Act, we find Ryu racing against the clock to save Irene and stop Jaquio from releasing the ancient evil. Fighting through a particularly aggravating and challenging set of stages, Ryu finally confronts his father’s killer… Bloody Malth, the leader of the Malice Four. While I’ll be the first to admit that Malth looks nothing like the ninja from the opening cut scene, the tidbits of information available make the guy a rather imposing boss. Especially when you add in the fact that he was once a ninja who became cursed by the Iron Mask of Blood and Shield of Death. Defeating this bastard just feels so good and leads to the revelation that Ken is still alive!


Setting out to rescue Irene and his father, Ryu and players are treated to the nightmarish hell that is Act 6. Folks, let’s be crystal clear here, this particular Act didn’t just crush my gaming spirit, it made me feel like a novice. If players are able to navigate this final act, they still have to contend with not one, not two, but three final bosses… all in a row… without health refills… and if they die it’s back to the beginning of the act!!!!

Somehow, Ryu makes it through and challenges the first of the final bosses, the Masked Devil. Dodging through the hail of fireballs, Ryu shatters the powerful orb in the center of the room that powers the Devil and learns that this beast is in reality his brainwashed father. Reunited at last, the joy is quickly cut short when Jaquio shoots Ken. Rising up in furious anger, Ryu scales the walls to slash at the madman as he flies overhead launching fireballs. Thinking that we’ve finally won, I’ll remind players that I did say “three” final bosses. A sudden eclipse of the moon releases the ancient demon Jashin from the statues. A final battle of wills and patience sees the pink monstrosity destroyed in a burst of flames and our hero leading Irene and his father to safety.


Remember that epic music from Act 4-2? Well, the music from the finale is just as incredible. Often referred to as “A Hero’s End,” the somber flute piece that plays serves to play up the dramatic end as Ryu says goodbye to his father and watches as the man who raised him dies in his arms. Oh, but wait, it’s not over just yet! With the Jaquio dead and Jashin destroyed, Foster orders Irene to wipe up one final loose end… Ryu. However, after everything the pair have been through, the agent can’t bring herself to follow the order and instead kisses our blue clad ninja as the sun sets.

Jeez… that’s more plot than I even came close to writing in either of my past pieces. In any event, now we come to the part where I review this aggravating masterpiece. If you were following along as I explained the plot, you might have caught on that this game is ###-ing hard! Apologies for the harsh language, but I don’t know how else to get the point across. This game singlehandedly made me feel like I was a joke. At one point, I even had to put down my controller, turn off the system, and take a loooooooong break, but in the end? I came back. I came back because I wanted more. I had to know how it ended. I also needed to know if I still had a right to call myself a gamer after being bested so completely.


Long story short, this is a game that people need to play. I know that’s something that a lot of reviewers say about a lot of games, but this one stands out amongst not only contemporaries, but even modern next-gen games. Difficult, beautiful, complex, and addicting, this one should be in everyone’s library, especially if you’re one of those gamers that went crazy for the 2005 series. I have never before loved and hated a game the way I do Ninja Gaiden. With gorgeous visuals, epic storytelling (despite being clichéd by today’s standard), and a captivating soundtrack, this a definite must play and a favorite in my collection.

Sai & Stormy are writers, gamers, and full time nerds. Sai can often be found with a comic in one hand and a game controller in the other. He specializes in the history/mythology of comic books, legends of video games, and sculpting figurines. When Stormy is not fully immersing herself into her 80's childhood fandoms, she enjoys making cosplay, desperately tries to get her old Nintendo games to work, and will do whatever it takes to make time to read her favorite books. They live somewhere down south where it gets very hot with a boneheaded dog named Melvin.