Cover of the Amstrad CPC version
Bits Studios (Game Boy)
The game's hero, Gekkou (月光), is a young ninja who lost his father to a mysterious half-man half-beast creature. The plot of Ninja Spirit is based on the quest of his revenge in an alternative feudal Japan.
There are a total of seven stages varying from woodlands, wastelands, swamps, temples and cliffs. Each stage begins with the player slashing his way to the end, until he confronts a level boss.
The ninja is always armed with the sword Righteous Cloud which can be fluidly used to attack in all directions. Extra weapons include the Swirling Leaf (shurikens), the Bamboo Thunder (bombs), and the Rising Dragon (kusarigama). There are also several powerup items, such as one unleashing multiple ninja ghosts to assist the player.
The game was successfully ported onto multiple platforms. The most popular port is the TurboGrafx-16 format which includes two styles of mode: the PC engine mode which provides a lengthy healthbar, and the Arcade mode, which is a more challenging mode where the ninja dies with the slightest contact. That version was ported to the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console on May 14, 2007, was delisted on March 30, 2012 and was available again on September 17, 2013 in Japan and on September 19, 2013 in North America and Europe.
Ninja Spirit later appeared in the Japan-only Game Boy title, Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter along with other characters from the game, as well as characters from three other Irem franchises: R-Type, Mr. Heli and Hammerin' Harry.
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Ninja Spirit for the Turbografx-16 was also the first game in history to receive a 10 in Electronic Gaming Monthly. In 2010, CraveOnline featured this version in the article Top 10 Ninja Games Of All Time, commenting: "Ninja Spirit for the TurboGrafx-16 was a lot like “Legend of Kage” on the NES, except better in every way ... both challenging and sort of relaxing at the same time."