’nuff said, right?
Few things are cooler. With their mad stealth skills, badass weapons, and enviable combat prowess, these guys and girls make perfect leads for games across all genres.
Stealthy adventure? Sure. Scrolling beat-em-up? Check. Brutal fighter? Present and correct. Hard-as-nails platformer? You got it.
Developers have brought us plenty of ninjas in the past few decades, but not all of them stick like a shuriken. There are ninjas who are truly iconic (you can probably guess at least a couple), and then there are those with a little less fame.
Both kinds can be equally awesome – but which are the best?
Of course he’s here.
Anyone, gamer or not, can see how powerful this guy’s visual appeal is. Just look at him. He’s had a few redesigns over the years, but the core elements are always the same: those glowing eyes; that mask hiding half of his face; the stark contrast of yellow and black.
Scorpion is the character of choice for many Mortal Kombat fans (us included), partly because he’s just so much fun to look at.
Still, his fighting abilities aren’t to be sniffed at either. Scorpion’s retractable spear, fire-slinging skills, and ability to pull out a flaming skull for a quick fatality never get old.
Grey Fox has appeared in multiple Metal Gear games, but it’s his role in the legendary Metal Gear Solid that we love so much.
Remember finding those troops slaughtered in a blood-coated corridor, before watching Grey Fox materialise out of thin air, like the Predator? Remember fighting him in that office, lobbing chaff grenades and dodging his kicks?
Well, then you’ll also remember that Grey Fox was no ordinary ninja – he was a CYBERNETIC ninja!
Invisibility, a sword, and that creepy glowing thing on his mask all help to make Grey Fox one of the series’ greatest characters. In fact, we’d have preferred to play MGS as him rather than Snake …
Ninja Gaiden is a long-running series, with nearly 30 years’ history behind it. Hero Ryu Hayabusa is the titular ninja, and he’s a tough old cookie.
This dragon-man mash-up is armed with a beautiful weapon, the Dragon Sword, which helps him cut a limb-strewn path through his enemies.
Hayabusa’s also a playable character in the Dead or Alive series of brawlers, and while 2012’s Ninja Gaiden 3 might have been a let-down, he’s still got a legion of loyal fans.
Sub-Zero is Scorpion’s nemesis and the only character to have appeared in every main Mortal Kombat game. Like Scorpion, Sub-Zero has an iconic look: blue and black garb, glowing eyes, and (in most games) a face mask. Of course, he’s best known for his ability to freeze opponents (sometimes in mid-air, laughing in the face of physics), as well as his legendary head-ripping, spine-dangling fatality from way back in the early 90s.
Sub-Zero might have been replaced by his younger brother after dying and being resurrected as Noob Saibot, but the character’s presence is absolutely essential to the series.
Like Ninja Gaiden, the Shinobi series has also been around for nearly 30 years. Hero Joe Musashi is one of the medium’s most well-known, most beloved ninjas, thanks in part to his eye-grabbing white-and-red togs.
As well as being able to leap around stages, lobbing shurikens and slashing with gleeful abandon, Musashi knows a touch of magic, too. He also starred in several stories in the great Sonic the Comic many moons ago, and while he might not have starred in a game for a while, his fans will welcome future releases with open arms.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Okay, so these guys aren’t original to video games, but they’ve starred in so many it just wouldn’t seem right to leave them out.
What more is there to say about these dudes? They’re highly-trained. Armed with various weapons. Dressed in badass masks. Able to take down countless members of the Foot Clan without breaking a sweat.
Even in the worst TMNT games, playing as Leo, Donnie, Raph, or Mikey has a special charm. Not only do they have plenty of cool skills, but their unique designs and loveable personalities make them ideal heroes for action-oriented games.
While some fans question believe Yoshimitsu is actually a samurai rather than a ninja, we lean heavily towards the latter. This guy appears in both the Tekken and Soul Blade/Caliber series, though the identity of the character underneath has changed over the years. Whoever’s wearing the mask though, Yoshimitsu is always presented as the leader of the noble Manji Clan and graced with a softer personality than his freaky appearance suggests.
With his cybernetic suit, mechanical arm, and energy sword, Yoshimitsu is a great, great ninja. We like his design in Tekken 3 best, but let’s face it: he’s never looked anything less than awesome.
The Tenchu series might not be as well-known as the likes of Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden, but their more realistic, stealth-based take on the world of ninja assassins is great fun.
The first game is still regarded as the best by many of us, and it’s in this that Ayame made her debut. While her partner, Rikimaru, was strong, Ayame was the faster and more nimble of the two. Her twin blades are also ideal for executing targets with panache.
Now we’re talking!
Hiryu is a member of the Striders, a group of high-tech ninjas dabbling in assassinations and sabotage. Strider is set in a future with a distinct cyberpunk feel, and so Hiryu is armed with a plasma sword and a trio of robotic helpers ready to rush in when needed.
Not only does Strider Hiryu look terrific on-screen, his agility and move-set helps to make him feel unique. He’s one of the most popular, most powerful ninjas in gaming history, and has crossed over into numerous other games.
Surprised to see this dude on a list of best ninjas?
Well, believe it or not, Street Fighter’s legendary ponytailed villain is known as ‘the Spanish Ninja’. Vega is supposed to have received training in ninjitsu, and certainly has the acrobatic skills to match any other ninja from the gaming world.
With his claw and mask, Vega is perhaps the most visually appealing of the four classic Street Fighter villains. His vain personality makes him unique in a roster featuring the likes of Zangief, E. Honda, Sagat, Blanka, and others who aren’t exactly known for their winning looks.
Who’s your favourite ninja from the world of gaming? Let us know!