Ninjas are slowly making a comeback to video games. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was a divisive game due to the difficulty, but most reviews point toward it being astonishing. Last year we played The Messenger, which was a nice throwback to Ninja Gaiden combined with a Metroidvania. Plus on the horizon for 2020 we have Ghost of Tsushima and Cyber Shadow.
Those are just two examples in what we hope leads into more. We desperately miss these shadowy assassins that used to dominate the gaming culture. So as long as we are feeling nostalgic, we thought it would be fun to rank the strongest and weakest video game ninjas spanning from the early days to a couple of more recent hits.
10 Strong: Raiden (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)
Raiden was a straight up loser in Metal Gear Solid 2. He was a Solid Snake wannabe. Thankfully the ship course corrected itself in Metal Gear Solid 4 where he became an awesome cyborg ninja.
That Vamp fight still has us thrilled every time we play it. This all culminates in Metal Gear Rising where the over the top action is cranked up to eleven. Raiden cuts through Metal Gears like they were made of butter! Can there be a cooler ninja? The answer is no. Where is that sequel PlatinumGames?
9 Weak: Yuffie (Final Fantasy VII)
Yuffie is a klutz. She wants to do right by her nation of Wutai, but as a teenage ninja, she needs some work. Her sophomoric attitude and willingness to get better is what makes her and the other characters in Final Fantasy VII so great.
That said she is a terrible ninja. How can one be stealthy with a leg brace? Was that just for show, or was she actually injured?
8 Strong: Momohime (Muramasa: The Demonblade)
Both of the protagonists in Muramasa: The Demonblade were excellent ninjas. We went with Momohime over Kisuke because we found her ordeal a lot more harrowing. She is a princess possessed by an evil spirit, which allows her to wield various magical blades. While she struggles with keeping her mind intact at all times, Momohime is mostly able to keep the violent urges at bay all while still being able to channel the spirit’s power. Now that sounds like a strong ninja.
7 Weak: Koga (Pokémon Blue/Red)
Yuffie relies too heavily on Materia, thinking it would make her stronger. On the same level Koga also relied too heavily on a foreign power: Pokémon. Maybe he is a better ninja than a Pokémon trainer. We don’t know. What we do know is that his skills are lacking in the original games. Even in the anime his abilities don’t look that mighty. What kind of gym leader loses to a ten year old kid?
6 Strong: Wolf (Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice)
The main character of Sekiro is known only as Wolf, which is an awesome code name for a ninja. Not only that but he gets his arm chopped off, survives, and gets it replaced with the feudal era version of a cybernetic arm. He can equip a grappling hook, flamethrower, gun, and the list goes on. Not only that, but he can cheat death in game too. Sekiro is challenging to be sure, but if players wield Wolf properly, he is an incredible asset.
5 Weak: Frost (Mortal Kombat XI)
Of all the ninja characters in Mortal Kombat, Sub-Zero is the strongest. He can freeze enemies for crying out loud. Sure Scorpion can sometimes wield fire and has a grappling dagger, but Sub-Zero is still better. That’s why it was so disheartening to find out his pupil, Frost, was so weak. Not only that, but her evil allegiance doesn’t help her out on this list either. She is a disgrace to her clan even if her design is actually pretty cool.
4 Strong: Kurenai (Red Ninja: End of Honor)
Red Ninja: End of Honor is a fairly forgettable late PS2 release. It doesn’t look, or play great, which is unfortunate because the main character’s, Kurenai, design is actually awesome. Her main weapon is a razor wire, which surprisingly not a lot of ninjas use in games. If the gameplay were tighter this could have been amazing. Even with that said Kurenai belongs on this list as one of the deadliest femme fatales out there. A retooled remaster, or sequel would be nice. Let’s show this warrior some respect.
3 Weak: Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden)
The Ninja Gaiden games are great, don’t get us wrong, but they are incredibly frustrating. The early NES titles are especially problematic. What kind of ninja dies by falling in a pit? That’s the question we want answered. There are a lot of big holes on those three original games that can send Ryu to his untimely demise. For that big reason we don’t think Ryu is a very good ninja despite all of his other feats.
2 Strong: Zero (Borderlands)
Zero doesn’t really say much in his debut in Borderlands, or his subsequent appearances in the sequels. That said he doesn’t need to talk to be awesome nor should he. Ninjas are meant to be silent.
A loud, boisterous ninja wearing, oh let’s say a bright orange jumpsuit, would be a terrible ninja. Zero on the other hand is an elite assassin with skills that can rival even Raiden’s. Seeing those two cyborgs go toe to toe would be an incredible sight.
1 Weak: Ayane (Dead or Alive)
Ayane is pretty tough in the Dead or Alive series so why is she on the weak list? Six words: Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. What kind of ninja exposes themselves that much? Literally, Ayane is bearing all in that game. Sure, playing volleyball is a fun little spinoff. We like playing it, but for the purposes of this list it’s a good example to bring up to expose Ayane as a bad ninja. There should be more black and less back is what we are saying.