Join us as we sneak through the shadows in search of the best Ninja games of 2023, wielding our katanas and chucking smoke bombs in every direction!
I’ve always wanted to be a Ninja. They’re effortlessly cool, sneaking in and out of shadows and appearing in places where you least expect them without a sound.
And their skills with a blade are second to none. Plus, they wear a lot of black, so technically they’re just hardcore goths, right?
Luckily for most of my family and friends, there will never be a world in which I become a Ninja. That means there’s no chance of me getting myself killed or bragging about the fact that I’m a stealthy legend at every chance I get.
The following games encompass all the mystery and intrigue of this elite fighting force, encapsulating incredible Japanese tales and elements of folklore that will leave you wanting to do more research.
Hey, any games that promote reading are ok in my book!
So, let’s crack on and check out the best Ninja games of all time. Can you all just wait while I fade into the background before you carry on reading?
(Ok, I’m in the next room. Start reading!)
Table of Contents
Let’s kick off this list of the best Ninja games with the most Ninja sounding title out there – Ninja Blade.
What happens when experimental parasites create super strong monsters after infecting human hosts?
The world sends a strike squad of Ninjas to sort out the problem, that’s what!
This is a story of saving the world while dealing with betrayal in your team. A good old revenge story, that’s what we like here at Retro Dodo!
Play as Ken Ogawa as you move through levels that give you serious value for money. This game seems to go on forever!
Upgrade weapons by killing enemies and collecting items. Get stuck into QTE scenarios and chase the level boss all the way through the level from the very beginning of each stage.
Let’s chat graphics for a second. The Xbox 360 came out in 2005, but this game still looks phenomenal. I still get amazed whenever I see the cityscape or find myself in the heat of battle, katana drawn and ready for action.
I might have to write the rest of this article in Ninja gear, I’m getting too excited already!
One of the most exciting Ninja games for the PS4 is the The Messenger. Like the 8th title in our list below, it boasts a retro feel while championing smooth gameplay and slick visuals.
If you’re into your MetroidVania titles and perhaps some of the titles that featured in our best indie games on Nintendo Switch, then The Messenger will keep you enthralled for a very long time.
With elements of time travel and frankly ginormous bosses like the one in the image below, there’s plenty for Ninja fans to sink their sword into.
While players control a Ninja throughout the game, there isn’t as much of a need to be stealthy and sneak up on people. Imagine if Monster World IV had a Ninja instead of Asha, and you’ll get the general feel of the gameplay.
This is a pretty funny game too, with comedic characters and a use of dry humour throughout that make it an enjoyable title to play again and again.
And the music… what a soundtrack. If you can pick up a copy of this soundtrack on vinyl, I definitely recommend giving it a listen!
Shadow of the Ninja takes us all the way back to the days of the NES. Imagine if a sadistic ruler conquered New York City and you were the only one who could stop them.
Look at the game case above; Hayate has a robotic arm. Remember that when you get down to the title in 10th spot.
This game has a strong Castlevania feel to it, with players moving through side-scrolling levels killing enemies and squaring up to huge bosses at the end.
Play as either Lord Hayate or Lady Kaeda, kick-ass Ninjas that somersault and slash as they pick up new weapons and find powerups to give them the edge over their opponents.
Though with those epic katanas, I think they’ve got all the edge they need!
And you know what two main characters means? Two-player co-op!
Next up in our list of the The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game, one of the games that I know many of us grabbed for free during the Coronavirus lockdowns.
What a gift; this stopped me from losing my marbles!
A LEGO game about LEGO Ninjas; what’s not to love. It’s the third game in the Lego Movie game series and the most action packed.
Swords usually make things much more dangerous, even in the LEGO world!
If you’re a fan of all the best LEGO games, then there’s nothing new about the formula here. It’s the tried and tested mixture of action and comedy that makes all the Traveller’s Tales games so addictive.
And to say the world is made of bricks and studs, it looks pretty spectacular!
Fans of the movie will know all about the locations in the game. There are 8 to play through, all with your Lego sword in hand. There’s four player compatibility too!
My advice would be to watch the movie first before having a go at the game. You’ll enjoy it ten times more that way!
Aragami takes the 11th spot in our list of the best Ninja games of all time!
What is more powerful than a vengeful Ninja? How about playing as a spirit with Ninja abilities and the ability to control the shadows?
Yeah, I reckon that could do it!
Aragami is said spirit, and over the course of the game, you’ll discover more about who you are and how you came to be, with a lot of fighting and blood mixed in alongside some fantastical fantasy elements along the way.
Hide amongst the shadows that you control and move silently between them as you wipe your enemies off the face of the earth.
You’ll come to realise that you are bound to the girl that summoned you into this world. As well as sneakily killing your enemies, you must battle with the entire Army of Light and rescue your maker.
The graphics are unreal in this game too, and Aragami could well be one of the coolest characters I’ve ever controlled in a video game. If you’re looking for a cool Halloween costume, then you just found one!
The graphics in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice are out of this world. Even the name, Shadows Die Twice gives me the chills!
There’s a reason that this title won the accolade of Best Action Game. Having the minds behind the Dark Souls series working on it was always going to help, but the storyline and its titular character are both extraordinary and certainly turned the heads of both gamers and reviewers alike.
Play as a warrior called ‘the one-armed wolf’, a fighter overcoming adversity with a disfigurement that has attracted a lot of negativity from people you really don’t want as enemies.
Still, a different arm didn’t stop Hayate in Shadow of the Ninja, did it!
I don’t see why having a kick ass prosthetic arm is a weakness, and neither will you after playing Shadows Die Twice.
Let’s talk about the arm. A loaded axe, flame vent, and Sabimuru blade are three of the things that the one-armed wolf can bring out in battle.
Matched with insane Ninjitsu moves all wrapped up in stealthy moves and impressive feats of athleticism, this game will have you sitting on the edge of your seat in no time.
Crawling silently into 9th place in our Ninja games list is Shadow Warrior 2. It’s also an incredibly expensive title too; you might need to sneak into a castle and steal some loot to be able to afford it.
Like the the first game, players control the loose lipped mercenary Lo Wang. If Deadpool were a Ninja, then you’d have Lo Wang.
What do you do when you live in a world where both demons and humans are out to kill you? What happens when they both team up to get you too?
Is fall on your sword an option?
From the Wang Cave (definitely suspect) to the luscious, randomly generated areas of this fantastically open title, players could wander around for hours just taking in the sights and exploring secret areas.
Let’s talk about some of the weapons in this game too.
You can grab hold of 70 weapons comprising of tonnes of swords and guns. Short swords, duck blades, and of course, the iconic katana are just a few of the close range weapons available for slicing up baddies.
You can even imbue weapons with magic to make your attacks more devastating. Or, you know… just chop off an arm so your opponent can’t shoot you. That’ll do just fine.
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun doesn’t specifically look like a PS4 title at first glance. This isometric title has a very nostalgic vibe to it, paying homage to titles like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate.
If you like playing games like Risk but wish that the strategy elements were multiplied by about 10 million, then Blades of the Shogun is definitely for you.
The whole aim of this game is to infiltrate without detection. Move silently through hordes of enemies as you break into castles or manoeuvre your way into a hidden monastery without so much as a peep.
Each member of the team that you control has a different attribute. While some dispatch bad guys from afar using throwing stars, others place traps or rely on brute force and bravery in the face of danger.
Obviously, there’s a time and a place for each of these attributes, and it’s up to you to pull in the right person for the job at any given moment.
Use your tactical mind to overcome challenges of increasing difficulty.
This is one heck of an intriguing game and the perfect title for flexing your most important muscle – that big ‘ol brain of yours!
The seventh spot in our sneaky Ninja games list goes to the PS1 classic Ninja: Shadow of Darkness.
Players step into the silent shoes of Kurosawa, a Ninja who must work his way through 11 spellbinding levels defeating enemies and completing puzzles along the way.
Rather than a specifically stealth-orientated title, Shadow of Darkness has a platformer feel about it. Imagine Goeman crossed with Fighting Force; platforming with beat em up and weapons.
In a different world, we would have been playing this game on the Sega Saturn. Perhaps the fact that Sega was in a downward spiral of its own doing is why this game ended up on the PS1.
Either way, it definitely helped to push the games popularity tenfold.
Use throwing stars, wield spells, and pull off moves in epic hand-to-hand combat, all through well designed levels that still look slick on the PS1 even today.
If we’re talking about ninja games, then we can’t miss out the iconic Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master.
This game was way easier to play than the first 2 Shinobi games. Granted, it’s still not a walk in the park, but it’s much more enjoyable to play as you can actually make progress without tearing your hair out.
Return of the Ninja Master required a lot of agile skill. It was smoother, the weapons were more advanced, and the whole thing was just much nicer to play.
Take charge of Joe Mushashi once more, this time squaring off against the infamous Neo Zeed, possibly the best bad guy name ever.
Utilise finely honed Ninjitsu skills as you prepare for a showdown with the Number 1 Zeed (see what I did there). It’s an intense and interesting game full of action and one of the best 2D games I’ve ever played.
A game about a vengeful Ninja made by a team called Team Ninja… Ninja Gaiden Black is the real deal alright!
Can you remember playing this game for the first time and just feeling sheer despair at how difficult it was? It made the first two Shinobi games look like early Bubble Bobble games.
Imagine Returnal and Dark Souls-style difficulty mixed with Ninja stealth and sneaky attacking, all set in the same universe as Dead or Alive.
I know, it just gets better, doesn’t it!
Ryu Hayabusa is, and always will be, one of the best video game characters of all time. He’s a Master Ninja, which I suppose is like being a master carpenter.
The main difference is he’s carving up enemies instead of wood.
Your mission is to avenge the fallen members of your clan, killed cruelly in cold blood. Pull off stealthy kills, run up walls, and do loads of Ninja-esque moves and flips that will make your eyes go wide with amazement.
Fans of Zelda will love the puzzle elements in NGB too. It’s got a little bit of everything, but mostly Ninja-stabbing action.
Bushido Blade takes the 4th spot in our compendium of the greatest Ninja games. It’s a Squaresoft title, which means it already comes with that guarantee of awesomeness before you even open the wrapper.
And yes, guarantee of awesomeness is the technical term.
How do I describe this game to you? Imagine Mortal Kombat, but everyone is holding a katana. Blood, blades, and Ninja clothing.
Yeah, that’s all the marketing campaign needed to be.
One of the things I like about this game is that rounds can be need in a single blow. If you time an attack right, you really can finish an opponnent with one strike.
Of course, if you both know what you’re doing, then matches can last a long time. At least, when the killing blow comes, it’s usually quick, albeit incredibly bloody.
Characters can be wounded and begin to hobble too, slowly bleeding out as you toy with them. There is no health bar or time limit; the game ends when the player’s life does.
Whenever Retro Dodo’s Brandon has annoyed me, I like to make him suffer in this game.
Needless to say, we play it quite regularly.
If you are incapable of being stealthy, then Tenchu: Stealth Assasins is not for you.
To be honest, most of the games in this list aren’t for you if you can’t be stealthy, so I’m questioning why you’re here?
Fans of Ghost of Tsushima need this title in their lives. It’s jam-packed full of interesting Japanese lore and follows the move from Samurais to Ninjas.
Kill a range of weird and wonderful enemies from Japanese mythology and fairytales too. We’re talking everything from men to trolls and even demons!
If you’re a fan of Metal Gear Solid, Thief, Syphon Filter, and other games of a similar ilk, then the Tenchu games will be right up your street.
Sometimes, it’s holding back and not making a move that can mean the difference between success and failure. Picking the right moment to strike is crucial.
And, with the help of the best PS1 HDMI cables, this game looks epic on newer TVs too!
Shinobido: Way of the Ninja bags the silver medal in todays Ninja games list. Pre 2020, this title would have been at Number 1 without a shadow of a doubt.
As it stands, it’s been pushed back to a very respectable special place. Heck, we’ll give it the Retro Dodo Game Of Honour award to make it feel better.
Many gamers say that there are loads of similarities between Shinbodo and the Tenchu games, and I would tend to agree. The stealth elements are much more intense, however; even dogs can alert guards to your presence!
Levels can be played in any order too, and the choice of mission that you take has a direct effect on how people respond to you.
Ninjas don’t just use blades either. These guys are sneaky and fight in the shadows.
Use smoke bombs, take strength potions, and strike from behind while your opponent is looking the other way.
It might be fighting without honour, but honour usually gets you killed.
Collect magical stones that tell you what happened in your past as you piece together the events that led up to your clan being killed.
The results are in, and the Retro Dodo Ninja’s have delivered them to us without a sound. Ghost of Tsushima is officially the best Ninja game on the planet right now!
I mean, it had to be, didn’t it? It’s one of the most beautifully made games of all time with a soundtrack that never fails to give me goosebumps.
Ghosts recently took the top spot in our best open world PS4 games article, and for very good reason. Visually, it’s a tour de force, with so much mystery and wonder wrapped into every single element of the game.
Just looking out for those birds that lead you to secrets is amazing on its own, never mind the battles and deep storyline running throughout.
The main character, Jin Sakai, is an honourable Samurai in a world that is forgetting what honour and tradition really mean. Players join him as he slowly becomes a Ghost in a world where the art of the Ninja and stealth are paving the way forward.
Fighting Mongols, battling in one-hit-kill mode, riding your horse through the breathtaking landscape. It’s everything we could ever dream of and more.
The little touches make all the difference too. Seeing Jin flick blood from his sword after he makes a kill never gets old. There’s even a traditional Black and White mode too, as well as the epic Legends game that players can dive into with friends.
Ghosts of Tsushima is a worthy winner of our best Ninja games list, but it’s important to remember that without many of the other titles in this list, we probably wouldn’t be playing it today.
Take a moment to pay homage to Shadow of the Blade and release the inner Ninja in you.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.