Still to this day, the adage of slapping a ninja character in what is essentially a crappy game seems to work. There are hundreds if not thousands of titles and new one being released all the time, that contain some element of the black suited assassin about them. Now not knocking it, as some of the absolute all time classics of retro gaming have been based around ninjas. Take the awesome The Last Ninja, first released on the Commodore C64 in 1987 by System 3. Becoming the most successful game for the C64.
However, many game makers wanted to cash-in on gamers love of the ninja with their own games. Some were successful, but some were always destined for the bargain bin of the local computer game store.
Here are some of those titles, you were likely to find sold at a heavily discounted rate. And still made you wonder why you bothered!
Now all retro gamers know of Alex Kidd, and the original game Alex Kidd in Miracle World (1986) that came pre-installed in the Sega Master System. But did you know about the Alex Kidd and Shinobi cross-over game that came out in 1990 for the Master System? No? Well let's enlighten you! A self parody of Sega's own well known Shinobi game, the game was released in Europe and USA (though in limited numbers in the US, making it very collectable today.)
Not weird enough yet? How about Ninja Hamster (1988), released on the C64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Produced by CRL, a now lost in the annals of gaming history British software company. The Brits did produce some of the best games in the 80s for the C64 and ZX Spectrum. It played just like the standard 2D beat-'em-up of the time, except with kick-ass animals! Zzap!64 the C64 gamers Bible thought the game was pretty lame. Sticking with the animal/ninja theme, there was 1991's Ninja Rabbits from MicroValue. Also released on the C64, but crossed over to the Amiga and Atari ST.
The game that sparked this post, was the brilliantly titles Ninja Scooter Simulator from 1988. Manufactured by the well known British cheap game maker Silverbird Software for the C64, ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC. Inspired by the Japanese coin-op arcade game MetroCross from 1985. Made way before kids thought that riding a scooter was cool, you have to wonder what they were thinking.
In reality this side-scrolling game was neither a "simulator" or had really anything to do with ninjas. Despite flying skulls and spiked rims on the scooter, this was a standard jump-at-the-right-time do "stunts" game. Underneath the bizarre marketing premise, and surely the initial disappointment of players, Ninja Scooter Simulator was a very playable and somewhat addictive game.