If you're a fan of challenging action games like Dark Souls, you owe yourself a favor to play the modern Ninja Gaiden games. Known as some of the hardest games of their generation, these titles starring Ryu Hayabusa (and one starring another protagonist not worth naming) have some excellent boss fights which will make you sweat and cheer with delight upon defeating them. At the same time though, no series is perfect and there are some clunkers as well.
To celebrate 15 years since the 2004 revival of this NES series, let's take a look at the 5 best and worst boss fights. Keep in mind that this would be from the modern games so no 8-bit adventures here.
10 Best: Doku
When playing Ninja Gaiden for the first time, there's no other opponent that you want to take out more than Doku. Not only is he the one who destroyed your village, he actually took your life. When you finally get the chance to take on this demon samurai, the game doesn't dissappoint.
If you stay far from Doku, the boss fight becomes a game of chicken as he will largely just throw his sword at you and do a shockwave attack. However, once you get in close you have to remain on a hair-trigger to avoid his health stealing attacks and carve him. This fight leaves you extremely satisfied which makes it a winner in our book.
9 Worst: Gigantosaurus
To be honest, any of the fights from Ninja Gaiden 3 can make this list as that game is often seen as a blight on the series. However, no fight is worse than this bizarre contest versus a dinosaur.
This massive genetic abomination runs around like a doofus until it falls to the ground waiting for you to rip him apart. The fight is then punctuated by a chase sequence straight out of Crash Bandicoot. Great for a platformer, not so much for Ninja Gaiden.
8 Best: Alma
A highlight of the original 2004 title, Alma is the first of the Greater Fiends that the player goes up against and Alma lives up to that lofty title. Taking place in a crumbling church, the setting is the perfect atmosphere for a fight with a being of darkness.
While Ryu has fought other bosses prior to this, Alma is the first one to really keep you on your toes at every moment. You have to constantly dodge out of the way of her ranged attacks and beware of her grabs. Once you knock her out of the sky, you have to take advantage of every second to massacre her. Although she returns later in the game, we give the edge to this fight for feeling more balanced and having a better atmosphere.
7 Worst: Fiend Murai
Spoiler alert for a 15-year-old game, but the true villain of 2004's Ninja Gaiden is... your master Murai! Crazy right? The twist comes out of nowhere with no time to breathe as he quickly absorbs the power of the Dark Dragon Blade to face you in the final boss fight. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a dud of a battle.
Despite having what is billed to be the most powerful weapon in the series, Murai fights like a chump for the most part. With boring attacks and a bland environment devoid of life, this final battle ends an otherwise excellent game on a sour note.
6 Best: Fiend Ryu
Much like Street Fighter, the Ninja Gaiden series made a habit of releasing expanded versions of previous titles. Serving as a "director's cut" of the 2004 original, Ninja Gaiden Black balanced out the game and added some new content. The best of these new additions has to be the boss fights against Fiend Ryu.
Simply put, this boss is an evil doppelganger of our favorite Dragon Ninja. He has all of your attacks and on the higher difficulties fights as relentlessly as an expert player would. The best part is that you fight him multiple times throughout the game as the fiend wields different weapons each time.
5 Worst: Ishtaros
If you haven't made it to the end to the end of Ninja Gaiden Black's Mission Mode or never played the DLC for the original game, you will have never fought the Greater Fiend Ishtaros. Count yourself lucky if you haven't.
Now then, Ninja Gaiden players are used to punishingly difficult boss fights but even by our standards, Ishtaros is a hideously difficult foe. Most of your attacks and weapons will do squat to her and even worse she will counter the majority of your attacks. Due to the claustrophobic environment you fight her in, you don't have much room to maneuver either. Even the most seasoned ninja will have a tough, unfun time here.
4 Best: Volf
There's many ways that we can sell you on boss fights throughout this list, but this one can be put simply. You fight a giant werewolf Greater Fiend in a colosseum while other wolves cheer for blood. What more can you want out of a boss fight?
Volf is an intimidating son of a gun with his massive scythe weapon and towering frame. Once you successfully cut him down however, you take his own scythe and get to use it on werewolves who climb down from the stands to eat you. Can you see how awesome this is?
3 Worst: The Archfiend
Much like the first game, Ninja Gaiden II is a fantastic game but one that ends on a downer as the final boss is one of the worst parts of the game. The much-ballyhooed Archfiend that the villains of the game were trying to summon might look tough, but is anything but.
Not only is the Archfiend's first form a lame fight where you must use your bow of all things to win, but his second form isn't much better as its derivative of many other fights in the series. While the atmosphere of fighting atop Mount Fuji is an awesome visual and better than Fiend Murai, the gameplay can't live up to it.
2 Best: Genshin
Ryu's main rival throughout Ninja Gaiden II, Genshin is the leader of the Black Spider Clan (notable for those explosive shuriken jerks from the first game) and faces you four times throughout the game. However, we're actually going to give the edge to your first encounter with him here.
Not only do his claw and deadly sword make him look powerful, his aggressiveness in combat really keeps on your toes. At this point in the game you don't have much to defend yourself with but you must avenge your father who failed in combat against him. As the Castle Of The Dragon burns around you, this fight heats up your soul and prepares you for the bloodshed ahead.
1 Worst: Ryu Hayabusa
Remember Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z? We wish we didn't. If Ninja Gaiden 3 prepared the casket for the series, then this game closed the lid and nailed it shut. However, we're not here to talk about the game as a whole. Let's focus though on this travesty of a boss fight.
For those who don't know, you don't play as Ryu Hayabusa in this game. Instead you play as another ninja Hayabusa killed earlier in his life brought back from the dead for revenge. Unfortunately when you finally get the chance to take him on, it ends up being a tepid, drawn-out affair whose difficulty comes from the poor game mechanics, not the skill of your foe.