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Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos

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Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
The logo of Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos is on the top of the screen. In the middle of the image is a depiction of a ninja in violet either sheathing or unsheathing a katana from the scabbard. The ninja is portrayed in the background of a nighttime city with a dragon rising over. To the bottom right of the ninja is green text saying "Sequel to NinJa Gaiden, the arcade and Nintendo best seller!", and to the left of that is a license by Nintendo. The bottom right bears the Nintendo Seal of Quality stamp. In the bottom of the image, in red with white lettering, is the Tecmo logo, with text to the left of the logo saying "Hard to beat!!".
North American box art (NES version)
Director(s)Masato Kato
Programmer(s)Yoshiaki Inose
Artist(s)Masato Kato
Writer(s)Sarah H.
Hideo Yoshizawa
Masato Kato
Composer(s)Ryuichi Nitta
Mayuko Okamura
SeriesNinja Gaiden
Platform(s)NES, SNES MS-DOS, Amiga, Virtual Console

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos[a], known in Europe as Shadow Warriors II: The Dark Sword of Chaos, is a side-scrolling platforming video game developed and published by Tecmo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This is the second installment in the Ninja Gaiden trilogy for the NES and it was released in Japan on April 6, 1990 (1990-04-06), in North America in May 1990, and in Europe on October 27, 1994 (1994-10-27).[1] The game was later released for the Commodore Amiga and DOS-based PCs by GameTek in 1991.[2][3] It was then released for the Virtual Console North America service on October 15, 2007 (2007-10-15) for the Wii, on August 22, 2013 (2013-08-22) for the Nintendo 3DS and on February 18, 2016 (2016-02-18) for the Wii U.[4][5][6]

The events in Ninja Gaiden II take place one year after the events in the first Ninja Gaiden game. It is about an evil emperor named Ashtar who, after hearing of Jaquio's defeat, devises a plan to take over the world and engulf it in darkness through an evil sword called the Dark Sword of Chaos. A U.S. Army agent named Robert T. Sturgeon recruits the game's protagonist Ryu Hayabusa and tells him that he is the only person who can stop him. The game received praise in previews from Electronic Gaming Monthly and Nintendo Power and continued to receive high ratings and coverage, being nominated for several awards from Nintendo Power in 1991. Overall, reviewers have said that visuals and controls of Ninja Gaiden II improved over its predecessor while maintaining a high level of difficulty for players; the game was criticized for having a more generic and predictable plot. The game maintains lasting appeal among players, with one reviewer saying that Ninja Gaiden II is "a challenging experience the likes of which gamers in the 8-bit era lived and died for".[7]


One year after the events of the first Ninja Gaiden game, in the Realm of Darkness, Ashtar, the evil lord who controlled Jaquio, is informed of Jaquio's defeat; he devises a plan to rule over Earth by opening the Gate of Darkness.[8] A U.S. Army Special Intelligence unit member named Robert T. Sturgeon is sent to find Ryu to take out Ashtar.[9] Robert informs Ryu that Irene Lew has been captured and that he must go to the Tower of Lahja to save her.[10] After hopping on a freight train and then battling up the mountain in which the tower lies, he is ambushed by a figure who describes himself as a tribesman of the World of Chaos, led by the Emperor of Darkness Ashtar.[11] After making it to the top of the tower, Ryu finds Irene, who has been captured by Ashtar. Ashtar then blasts Ryu with energy from his own sword; before Ashtar can finish off Ryu, Robert appears and shoots Ashtar in the back, stopping him. Robert orders Ashtar to hand over his sword and give up, but Ashtar escapes with Irene, telling Ryu to follow him into the Maze of Darkness.[12]

After Ashtar escapes into the Maze of Darkness, Robert tells Ryu about Ashtar's plot to take over the world by using the full power of his sword, the Dark Sword of Chaos. Robert implores Ryu to stop Ashtar before his Dark Sword reaches full power.[13] After battling through the Maze of Darkness and into the World of Chaos, Ryu hears echoes of Ashtar's plan in the distance.[14] Ryu then catches up with Ashtar. He releases Irene, but immediately after releasing her he stabs her with the Dark Sword. Robert then shows up, only to find out that Irene has been mortally wounded; Ashtar then blasts Robert with energy from his Dark Sword and then challenges Ryu to battle.[15] Ryu defeats Ashtar, and before he dies, he says that the forces of Darkness will soon awaken and implores the forces of Chaos to engulf the world into darkness.[16] While he is saying this, the Dark Sword of Chaos vanishes into thin air. After Ashtar's death, Irene tells Ryu that an evil altar that Ashtar prepared to open the Gate of Darkness must be destroyed.[17] Ryu then leaves Irene behind and tells Robert to take her and leave the World of Chaos.[18]

As Ryu enters the World of Darkness to destroy the altar, Irene and Robert, while traveling back, are stopped by a shadowy figure that Irene has seen before. Meanwhile, after defeating Kelbeross whom he noted he fought in his fight against Jaquio (in the previous Ninja Gaiden game), Ryu finds Robert on the ground and mortally wounded. He tells Ryu that Irene has been captured again and that he must prevent the Gate of Darkness from opening. Robert then tells Ryu to leave him behind while he fends off the demons.[19] Ryu eventually makes it to the evil altar where he finds Irene and the shadowy figure who captured her; the figure reveals himself as Jaquio – the antagonist from the first Ninja Gaiden installment – who was reborn after his first battle with Ryu.[20]

Jaquio tells Ryu his master plan of using Ashtar as a pawn, used to awaken the true evil. He plans to use the Dark Sword of Chaos to use Irene's life force to open the Gate of Darkness and call up all the demons, while Ryu awakens them from their sleep.[21] Jaquio then challenges Ryu to a showdown in which Ryu defeats him. Before Ryu and Irene can destroy the evil altar though, Jaquio's blood awakens the Dark Sword, which opens up the Gate of Darkness, shocks Irene and Ryu with its energy. The Demon Jashin arrives through the Gate of Darkness and reanimates the corpse of Jaquio. He then turns into a demonic wall, which Ryu, after borrowing strength from his Dragon Sword, defeats. Jashin is once again sealed away, the Dark Sword then breaks apart, the Gate of Darkness closes and disappears, and Ryu flees with Irene out of the temple just as it collapses. He then begins to mourn for Irene, who is presumed to be dead, when the power of the Dragon Sword revives her. Irene tells Ryu that she felt like she had been dreaming for a long time.[22] Ryu tells her that the incident is over, and the game ends as the two watch the sun set.


Ninja Gaiden II introduced the ability of Ryu to split his body into multiple forms. Here Ryu's double (the orange ninja) is being used to defeat the boss Naga Sotuva.

As with the previous Ninja Gaiden game, the player controls Ryu Hayabusa through a series of platforming levels called "Acts". Players have the ability to jump and latch on and off walls and ladders.[23] Two new abilities that Ryu can do in Ninja Gaiden II are climbing up and down walls and attacking with "Power Boosting Items" while on walls and ladders.[23][24] Ryu has a strength meter on top of the screen that decreases whenever he takes damage from enemies. The player loses a life if Ryu's strength meter runs out, Ryu falls off the screen or if the timer runs out; the game ends if players lose all their lives.[25] The player can continue and restart the game from the beginning of the level in which they lost all their lives.[26]

Players dispatch enemies by either thrusting at them with his Dragon Sword or by defeating them using Power Boosting Items. These special items consume Ryu's "ninja power", also located on the top of the screen. Power Boosting Items include the following: shurikens; "Windmill Throwing Stars" that move back and forth like a boomerang; "The Art of the Fire Wheel" which hurls fireballs diagonally upwards; "Fire Dragon Balls" which hurls fireballs diagonally downwards; and the "Invincible Fire Wheel" that creates a barrier of three fireballs around Ryu, destroying any enemy that touches them.[27] These items can be found in various crystal balls scattered throughout the levels, and they can be switched out by collecting another Power Boosting Item. The amount of ninja power used depends on the type of Power Boosting Item used.[28] At the end of each Act Ryu fights a boss which has its own strength meter, located on the top of the screen. The boss's strength meter decreases every time the player damages it, and the boss is destroyed when the player completely depletes its strength meter.[25]

Along the way, the player can collect items that are found in crystal balls scattered throughout the levels. These items include the following: items that increase Ryu's ninja power; bottles that increase the player's score; "Scrolls of the Spirit of the Dragon" that increase Ryu's maximum ninja power; medicine that partially refills Ryu's strength meter; Power Boosting Items; and 1-ups.[29][30] Another new feature in Ninja Gaiden II is the ability for Ryu to "split his body" and clone himself when the player collects an orange ninja symbol. Collecting this symbol creates for Ryu an orange shadow of him that follows behind and copies every move Ryu makes, including climbing walls and ladders and attacking enemies. Using this technique, the player can strategically position Ryu and his clones to more easily defeat enemies and bosses.[7]


Review scores
AllGame4/5 stars[31]
GameSpot7.5 of 10[24]
IGN8.5 of 10[7]
Game PlayersGame Player's NES Excellence Award, 1990

Electronic Gaming Monthly previewed Ninja Gaiden II in late 1989 and early 1990. The game first appeared in its September–October 1989 issue and again in its November 1989 issue; they noted the new levels, power-ups, and an "explosive story that's loaded with twists and turns".[33][34] In the magazine's January issue, Steve Harris praised the game for its new power-ups, scrolling backgrounds, and more detailed cinematic cutscenes. He said that the game was going to take the series "one step further than before".[35] The game was shown to the public for the time at the Winter 1990 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in which Nintendo Power gave "four star ratings for its great cinema scenes and challenge".[36] The same magazine previewed the game in its "Pak Watch" section in their March–April 1990 issue. They said that at first look the game had better cutscenes than the first Ninja Gaiden game, and they noted the great and diverse gameplay and high level of challenge.[37] After the game's release, it debuted at #4 on the magazine's "Top 30" list for September–October 1990.[38] In March 1991, the game was nominated for the "Nintendo Power Awards '90" in the following categories: "Best Theme & Fun"; "Best Play Control"; "Best Hero" (Ryu Hayabusa); "Best Bad Guy" (Ashtar); and "Best Overall".[39] It did not win any of those categories.[40] Later, in its 100th issue in September 1997, Ninja Gaiden II was listed as the 49th best game of all time on its "100 Best Games of All Time" list.[41] It was also listed as having one of the best 100 cheat codes of all time, which was pressing a series of buttons on the title screen to enable various sound tests.[42] In a 1991 issue of Game Players in its list of Annual Awards, the game received the "Game Player's NES Excellence Award" as one of the best NES games of 1990.[43] GamesRadar ranked it the 20th best NES game ever made. The staff felt that it was a large improvement over its predecessor due to improved gameplay, audio, visuals, and control.[44]

Ninja Gaiden II was reviewed in the July 1990 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly and received very high ratings. Steve Harris said that the game improved on its predecessor's gameplay, graphics, and cinematic cutscenes; he praised the diverse level environments and the new abilities that Ryu has received, but he noted that some power-ups from the first Ninja Gaiden game were missing in this one. A reviewer under the pseudonym "Sushi-X" echoed Harris' praise but pointed about that some of the bosses in the first game were reused; he added afterwards that "it's still worth the price of admission". Ed Semrad called Ninja Gaiden II one of the best video game sequels to ever be released; he referred to the graphics, difficulty, gameplay, and storyline as "near-perfect", though he points out that the game does get very difficult in the latter levels. Martin Alessi called it one of the best NES games ever and one of the best video games of 1990.[32] In the same issue, Ninja Gaiden II was featured on the front cover and was denoted as the "Game-of-the-Month". The game received further praise for taking the Ninja Gaiden series to new levels and featuring other surprises. They showed a partial walkthrough of the first Act and provided short tips for the second through fourth Acts. Near the end of the feature the staff pointed out rumors of a third installment to the series (which would eventually become Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom). At the end of the feature rock band Anthrax members Charlie Benante and Frank Bello were shown with Tecmo developer Jason Magness playing Ninja Gaiden II in a private showing.[45]

Ninja Gaiden II was reviewed again in 2007 when the game was released for the Virtual Console and received some praise as well as criticism from reviewers. Austin Shau from GameSpot compared the game with the first Ninja Gaiden game as examples of "mean-spirited games" on the NES with high, unforgiving difficulty and excellent controls and gameplay. He applauds Tecmo's artistic detail in the cutscenes, saying that it enhances the storyline and offsets the tedious dialogue. He said that the visuals are better than those in the first game with the usage of "dynamic environments" such as speeding trains, and he praises the game's fast-paced sound.[24] He and IGN's Lucas Thomas praised the improvement in the controls from its predecessor, more specifically Ryu's ability to freely climb up and down walls and use special weapons while on the walls.[7][24] Thomas enjoyed the game's "chief innovation" of Ryu's ability to clone himself and use them to take care of enemies – something in which he says "make progressing through levels and taking down bosses much easier and quicker".[7] Reviewers said that the game's difficulty remains high for players as with the previous Ninja Gaiden game. Shau noted that the game is still difficult as was its predecessor but said that the sequel is slightly easier.[24] Thomas stated that the sequel is not any easier to beat than its predecessor and that players will still get frustrated, especially with new environmental features such as blowing wind and rain and absolute darkness in which flashes of lightning illuminates the platforms. Thomas' only criticism of the game was that the storyline was not as good as its predecessor, saying that the plot seemed more predictable and that the cutscenes seemed more generic the second time around. Overall, he noted the lasting appeal of the game, saying that Ninja Gaiden II is "a challenging experience the likes of which gamers in the 8-bit era lived and died for".[7]


  1. ^ "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Release Information for NES". GameFAQs. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  2. ^ "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Release Information for Amiga". GameFAQs. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  3. ^ "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Release Information for PC". GameFAQs. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Lucas M. (October 15, 2007). "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Review". IGN. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  8. ^ Strategy Guide, pp. 5–7. "Ashtar: The time shall come ... when the Gate of Darkness is cast open ... all men shall kneel before me ... and shall hail me, Ashtar, as their new master!"
  9. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 9.
  10. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 19.
  11. ^ Strategy Guide, pp. 22, 24, 28. "Baron Spider: We are tribesmen from the World of Chaos, led by the Emperor of Darkness Ashtar ..."
  12. ^ Strategy Guide, pp. 37–38. "Ashtar: Ha, ha, ha! If you want the sword, you'll have to follow me ... into the Maze of Darkness!"
  13. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 41.
  14. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 55.
  15. ^ Strategy Guide, pp. 58–61.
  16. ^ Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. "Ashtar: The Force of Darkness shall soon awaken. No one will be able to stop it. Join forces, Shadows of Chaos. Swallow this world into Eternal Darkness..."
  17. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 64.
  18. ^ Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. "Ryu: Alright ... I'll go, Irene. But I'll come back for you as soon as I can. Robert, take Irene and get out of here now."
  19. ^ Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. "Robert: Ryu. If the Gate of Darkness is opened, the Tribe from the dark world will cause chaos. That'll be the end of all mankind. Hm ... listen! They're coming again. And there are quite a few of them. I'll stay here and hold them off. Ryu, you get going."
  20. ^ Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. "Jaquio: The spirit released after our battle flowed into my body. I am reborn. And I've got the dark Power of Evil."
  21. ^ Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. "Jaquio: The spirit you defeated before was nothing more than a pawn. Your battle served only to awaken the ancient, true Spirits of Evil. The Sword of Chaos simply sucks up your life force. And when the Sword awakens, the Gate of Darkness shall be thrown open ... And the demons shall come back to life.... Her life force shall be used to call up the demons. You shall awaken them, she shall call them back to earth."
  22. ^ Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. "Irene: Ryu. What ... what happend [sic] to me? I feel like I've been dreaming ... for a long time."
  23. ^ a b Instruction Manual, p. 11.
  24. ^ a b c d e Shau, Austin (October 31, 2007). "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Review for Wii". GameSpot. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  25. ^ a b Instruction Manual, p. 8.
  26. ^ Instruction Manual, p. 21.
  27. ^ Instruction Manual, p. 16.
  28. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 13.
  29. ^ Instruction Manual, pp. 13–15.
  30. ^ Strategy Guide, p. 12.
  31. ^ Kosydar, Aaron. "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos – Overview". Allgame. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  32. ^ a b Harris, Steve; Semrad, Ed; Alessi, Martin; Sushi-X (July 1990). "Electronic Gaming Review Crew – Ninja Gaiden 2". Electronic Gaming Monthly (12): 12.
  33. ^ "Next Wave". Electronic Gaming Monthly (3): 22. September–October 1989.
  34. ^ "Next Wave". Electronic Gaming Monthly (4): 14. November 1989.
  35. ^ Harris, Steve (January 1990). "Future Play – Ninja Gaiden 2". Electronic Gaming Monthly (6): 26.
  36. ^ "Consumer Electronics Show Report". Nintendo Power (11): 21. March–April 1990.
  37. ^ "Pak Watch". Nintendo Power (11): 90. March–April 1990.
  38. ^ "Top 30". Nintendo Power (16): 23. September–October 1990.
  39. ^ "Nintendo Power Awards '90". Nintendo Power (22): 81–83. March 1991.
  40. ^ "Nintendo Power Awards '90". Nintendo Power (24): 30–33. May 1991.
  41. ^ "100 Best Games of All Time". Nintendo Power (100): 95. September 1997.
  42. ^ "100 Best Codes". Nintendo Power (100): 70. September 1997.
  43. ^ "Players World – Game Players Annual Awards – 1990". Game Players (20): 21. February 1991.
  44. ^ "Best NES Games of all time". GamesRadar. 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
  45. ^ "Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of ChaosEGM Game-of-the-Month". Electronic Gaming Monthly (12): 51–54. July 1990.
  1. ^ Known in Japan as Ninja Ryūkenden II: Ankoku no Jashin Ken (忍者龍剣伝II 暗黒の邪神剣, lit. Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword II: The Demonic Sword of Darkness) alternatively known as Shadow Warriors II: Ninja Gaiden II


  • Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos Instruction Manual. Tecmo. 1990. NES-NW-USA.
  • "Ninja Gaiden II Strategy Guide". Nintendo Power. Redmond, WA: Nintendo of America (15). August 1990.
  • Tecmo (May 1990). Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. Tecmo.

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