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Ninja Gaiden

There are two things that stick out as defining moments of any videogame lovers life.  The first is when you play a video game simply to hear the sound track, which for Ninja Gaiden sounds like a disco punk anthem that could go over well in any bar in Williamsburg NY.

There are moments that define your video gaming career. The first time you play a game in an arcade. The first console that you ever own. The first time you complete a game. And, for many veterans of the NES days, the first time you beat Shadow Warriors: Ninja Gaiden (or just plain Ninja Gaiden as it’s known outside of Europe). Those who weren’t there can’t possibly understand what it was like.... playing through those last few levels.... it was harsh. Sometimes, at night, I still wake up screaming..... screaming........ screaming................

It’s hard to believe that this game celebrates it’s fifteenth anniversary this year. It seems like just yesterday that I first picked up the game (admittedly I didn’t get the game when it first came out - I got it second hand in 1994, but it’s still a fair few years ago, and I’m trying to set the scene here). I had seen the game in a local shop, and become transfixed by the image of the menacing looking Ninja who almost seemed to be jumping out of the front cover.

Although my understanding of the world was limited back then, since I had only just turned eleven, after all, I still knew a basic truth: Ninjas are rad. Over the next few weeks I saved up my pocket money, and eventually had enough to send my mother to pick up the game. It was Friday - I had the weekend ahead of me, and the promise of a new game to spend it on. I duly invited one of my friends to stay over, and we spent the majority of the weekend playing the game.

 Despite the fact that by the Saturday we were well and truly hooked, and stayed up playing until we were literally on the brink of falling asleep at the wheel, so to speak, we never really got very far. It was with this game that I discovered what true difficulty is. And it was with this game that I discovered I that I liked it.....

The game tells the tale of young Ryu Hayabusa. When Ryu hears that his Ninja father, Ken, has been killed in a duel in America, he heads to the States for some answers: why did his father fight, and more importantly, who killed him. What begins as a simple quest for vengeance soon becomes much more intriguing, however, and before too long, Ryu finds himself a central figure in an ancient battle between good and evil. A dormant power is awakening, and if it is to be stopped, Ryu must take up the sword of his family, and prepare to do battle.....