CrunchArcade: Top Ten Video Game Ninjas


For as long as ninjas have existed, kids (and secretly adults) have been pretending to be them. I personally was a ninja for Halloween three years running. But because not all of us are sneaky and murderous, sometimes the only way to get that ninja feeling was to grab a controller and get shuriken-ing. Bear in mind this is not a list of the top ten ninja games, but a list of the killer ninjas within. These were the guys you always wanted to be. And it’s not too late to join in the fun even if you, like John, are a 30-year-old balding raver with a paunch. So without further ado I present to you the top 10 video game ninjas of all time. Note: We have ranked them based on their ability to kill Snake Eyes in real life.

10. Sub-Zero — and pals (Mortal Kombat)

Noob Saibot was probably the most ninja-like of this ever-growing clan of similarly-tailored gladiators. But Sub-Zero is arguably the most well-known and, well, he could freeze you. That’s got to be worth a spot on the list, right?
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
No. Moves too slowly.

9. Gray Fox (Metal Gear Solid)

This mysterious character, most famous for breaking the fourth wall and freaking out credulous players by magically moving their controller, (oops, that’s Psycho Mantis, by the way spoilers ahead) who aids Solid Snake in destroying Metal Gear REX, is more a technological wonder than a ninjutsu one. His suit has been recycled by several other characters in the labyrinthine, tail-devouring mess that is the Metal Gear saga, and will be seen soon in Guns of the Patriots on the effeminate but effective Raiden.
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
In an office, yes. In a field, no.

8. Lo Wang (Shadow Warrior)

I think the developers got their stereotypes mixed up a little on this one, as ninja are Japanese and Lo Wang seems to be sort of pan-asian in origin. He may be a Chinese. Anyway, he throws tons of shuriken and swings a sword, so he’s on the list.
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
No. Lo Wang had no freelook so Snake Eyes could attack from above with impunity.

7. Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series)

I know, I know. But to be fair, I searched the entire internet for non-slutty female ninjas and I’ll leave it to you to guess my success. Really, she does know the way of the ninja, and part of that is learning to redirect the attention of your enemy. She’s a natural at it, and she’s actually a good character in the game.
Could she beat Snake Eyes?
Hell no. Are you joking? Snake Eyes would tear that up.

6. Sam Fisher (Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell)

Whatever, that guy’s totally a ninja.
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
Maybe while Snake Eyes was hanging around in the base drinking coffee, but not straight on.

5. Leonardo and Raphael (TMNT, tie)

I’m bending the rules here a bit because they were a comic and show first. But everybody remembers TMNT 2: The Arcade Game and probably also TMNT 1: The Hardest Game On The NES. Wondering why Don and Mike aren’t on there? I’ve got news for you: Ninja are murderers, people, and those pansies didn’t have the stomach. Furthermore, the ninjaken and sai are real ninja weapons, not the bo and nunchaku. Leonardo just the figurehead and never really got truly violent, but you could sense the instinct lurking there. Raphael, however, was a straight bad-ass. He was lethal and barely under control. Remember when he shanked Bebop in the shower?
Could they beat Snake Eyes?
Not a chance. He would cut their soft flesh.

4. Shadow (Final Fantasy III/VI)

A fan favorite, this enigmatic, rottweiler-loving loner (SPOILER ALERT) actually gets killed off if you don’t care enough to wait until quite the last moment on a quickly-disintegrating floating continent. His kung fu is strong, and his mysterious dreams are one of the most elusive elements of Final Fantasy III/VI’s sprawling plot. He has the strongest throwing arm of any ninja (YOU try throwing the Atma Weapon).
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
Who can say? If not, Interceptor would get revenge.

3. Hattori Hanzo (Samurai Shodown)

He wasn’t my favorite guy in the game, but he’s definitely a great ninja. Although I think he may have been a little bit — you know. The scarf? The fishnet arm-warmers? I think it’s safe to say his sword cuts both ways. I mean it. I heard he had a thing with Ukyo, who visibly spurns the ladies, and it’s not just because of his tuberculosis. But that’s neither here nor there. The man is a killer.
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
Using “slash” or “bust” style? Either way it would be a toss-up.

2. Joe Musashi (Shinobi)

Rather than sneak among the shadows, Joe chooses to walk straight at the enemy and use his extensive ninja powers to simply blow them off the face of the earth. I think you’ll find, in the picture above, that this particular ninja is riding a hoverboard and fighting a cyber-beast in the middle of the ocean. What can I possibly add?
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
I don’t think even Snake Eyes could withstand a full Shinobi assault.

1. Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden)

The filthiest and most dangerous ninja of them all, Ryu began his journey on the NES with the ridiculously hard Ninja Gaiden series. He’s got more powers than Picasso’s got paint, and he fights timeless evils as big as the screen. His newest incarnation is almost comically lethal, and regularly takes down monsters the size of houses in addition to hundreds of lesser ninjas.
Could he beat Snake Eyes?
He already did in the secret SNES chapter of Ninja Gaiden 3: GI Joe-jutsu.

Bonus ninjas:
Tamagotchi Ninja
If you’re lucky, your tamagotchi will turn into a ninja. More cute than powerful.

Snake Eyes (GI Joe on NES)
He was awesome because his ranged attack never ran out of ammo. How great is that?

Your favorite ninja not on the list? Sound off! Or kill me without a sound. Your choice.