Ninja Gaiden II NES Review – A Classic Retro Game That’s Even Better Than You Remember!

by | NES

Who doesn’t love a good throwback to 8-bit games and the golden age of gaming? Today, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and dive into the classic ninja adventure game, Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. Released on the NES in 1990, this action-packed sequel to the original Ninja Gaiden still has fans raving about its incredible gameplay, stunning visuals, and exhilarating music. Let’s dive in and see what all the fuss is about, shall we? Buckle up, gamers – it’s ninja time!

History of Ninja Gaiden II

The Original Ninja Gaiden

Before we dive into our Ninja Gaiden II NES review, it’s important to understand its origins. The original Ninja Gaiden was released in 1988 and became an instant classic, captivating gamers with its memorable characters, much like Contra NES did when it came out. It emerged as one of the most beloved action games of its time, offering intense action, a compelling story, and a level design that was nothing short of revolutionary. Playing as the ninja hero Ryu Hayabusa, players embarked on a thrilling journey to avenge their slain father and uncover a dangerous conspiracy.

Development and Release of Ninja Gaiden II

Following the success of the first game, Tecmo knew they had a hit on their hands and quickly began developing a sequel. Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos was released in North America in 1990, a fantastic game delivering a fresh set of challenges for fans of the original while also introducing new gameplay mechanics that would become staples of the series.


Characters and Controls

Ryu Hayabusa is back in action, and his moves are smoother than ever. The controls in Ninja Gaiden II are responsive and intuitive, allowing players to easily slash through enemies, wall-jump, and unleash powerful special attacks. Ryu also has a new ally in the form of the mysterious warrior, Robert T. Sturgeon, providing much-needed assistance and adds a new layer to the game’s narrative.

Levels and Enemies

The level design in the game is a step above, for an 8-bit game. Ninja Gaiden II features seven action-packed stages filled with a diverse array of enemies and obstacles. From the bustling city streets to the eerie depths of the underworld, each level offers a unique challenge and atmosphere that will keep players on their toes. And, of course, what would a Ninja Gaiden game be without some seriously challenging boss battles?

Power-ups and Weapons

As you progress through the game, you’ll come across various power-ups and weapons to help you in your quest. Ryu’s signature Dragon Sword is back, but he also gains access to new weapons like the Windmill Shuriken and the powerful Art of the Fire Wheel. You’ll also find health-restoring items and invincibility power-ups to help you overcome the game’s difficult gameplay.

Graphics and Sound


The visuals in Ninja Gaiden II are a significant step up from the original, with more detailed character sprites and vibrant backgrounds. The style of the game, enhanced by parallax scrolling, makes it a feast for the eyes, and it adds depth to the environment, which helps create a more immersive experience. From the snow-capped mountains to the creepy underworld, each stage is filled with eye-catching details that make the game a visual treat.

Music and Sound Effects

One of the most notable aspects of Ninja Gaiden II is its incredible soundtrack. Composed by Ryuichi Nitta and Mayuko Okamura, the music perfectly complements the action on screen, with adrenaline-pumping tunes and catchy melodies that are bound to get stuck in your head. The sound effects are equally satisfying, with each slash of Ryu’s sword and an explosion of a defeated enemy adding to the game’s overall atmosphere.

Difficulty and Challenge

Ninja Gaiden 2 is notorious for its difficulty level, but that’s part of its charm, right? The original NES hard mode, if you 80’s gamers know what I mean. The game tests your reflexes, platforming skills, and patience as you navigate through hordes of enemies and treacherous environments. It’s a challenge that will have you gritting your teeth in determination, but the sense of accomplishment when you finally conquer a particularly tricky section is oh-so-sweet.

Legacy and Impact

The impact of Ninja Gaiden II on the gaming world and console video games is undeniable. It built upon the foundations of the original and solidified the series as a staple of the action-platforming genre. The game’s challenging gameplay, engaging story, and memorable characters have left a lasting impression on fans and inspired future developers to create their own ninja-themed adventures. And who can forget those epic boss battles? Its legacy lives on, in its fantastic game design, challenging difficulty level, and memorable characters.

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos is a shining example of what made the NES era of gaming so special. With its gripping storyline, challenging gameplay, and unforgettable soundtrack, it’s no wonder this game is still celebrated by fans today. If you haven’t experienced the thrill of playing as Ryu Hayabusa in this classic ninja adventure, do yourself a favor and give it a try. Just be prepared for a challenge that’ll leave you coming back for more!

Bonus Tips and Tricks for Mastering Ninja Gaiden II

Hey there, fellow ninja enthusiasts! If you’re eager to dive into the world of Ninja Gaiden II and master the art of ninja-ing, we’ve got some handy tips and tricks to help you on your journey. Ready to become a true ninja master? Let’s do this!

Know Your Moves

Ryu Hayabusa has a plethora of moves at his disposal, and mastering them is key to your success in the game. From wall-jumping to powerful special attacks, understanding the ins and outs of Ryu’s abilities will help you navigate the game’s challenges with ease.

Save Those Power-ups

Power-ups are your best friends in Ninja Gaiden II, but be strategic about when you use them! Saving powerful weapons like the Art of the Fire Wheel for boss battles or particularly challenging sections can make all the difference between a sweet victory and a frustrating game over.

Take It Slow

While it’s tempting to rush through each level, sometimes it’s better to take a more methodical approach. Analyze enemy patterns and plan your moves carefully to avoid being overwhelmed by the game’s relentless onslaught of baddies.

Practice Makes Perfect

Ninja Gaiden II is a challenging game, but don’t let that deter you! With practice, you’ll learn the ins and outs of each level and improve your skills as a ninja warrior. Remember, even the most skilled ninja masters had to start somewhere.

Enjoy the Ride

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey! Ninja Gaiden II is a classic game filled with memorable moments, breathtaking visuals, and an epic soundtrack. So, take a moment to appreciate the game’s artistry as you slash your way through hordes of enemies and uncover the secrets of the Dark Sword of Chaos.

There you have it, fellow gamers – our review of the classic Ninja Gaiden II on the NES, along with some tips and tricks to help you become a true ninja master. So grab your controller, channel your inner Ryu Hayabusa, and embark on an epic adventure that’s sure to leave you coming back for more!


1. Is Ninja Gaiden II harder than the original?

While both games are known for their difficulty, many players consider Ninja Gaiden II to be slightly more challenging due to its increased enemy variety and the introduction of new gameplay mechanics.

2. Can I play Ninja Gaiden II on modern consoles?

Yes! Ninja Gaiden II has been included in various retro game collections and is available on platforms like the Nintendo Switch Online NES library.

3. Are there any sequels to Ninja Gaiden II?

Yes, there is a third game in the NES trilogy, Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom. The series has also been rebooted on modern consoles with new gameplay mechanics and updated graphics.

4. What are some other games like Ninja Gaiden II?

If you’re a fan of Ninja Gaiden II, you might enjoy other action-platformers from the NES era, such as Castlevania, Contra, and Mega Man.

5. Why is Ninja Gaiden II still popular today?

The combination of challenging gameplay, an engaging story, memorable characters, and an iconic soundtrack has helped Ninja Gaiden II stand the test of time and maintain its status as a classic NES game.

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