In the thirty years that videogames have risen to power we have seen almost everything. You can live another life in Sims, wage war in Call of Duty or Battlefield, reign as king in Fable, even save the universe in Mass Effect. Basically, if you can think it and there’s a game for it. But something occurred to me recently that made me sad. Where are our ninja games?
Ninjas are one of the coolest groups in the world, seriously. Everybody loves these highly trained, invisible assassins from feudal Japan. Why haven’t they been more exploited in our games? Yes there is Ninja Gaiden but let’s be honest, the only thing ninja about that series is the title. They’re really just ridiculously hard versions of God of War.
Stealth is not a new concept in the gaming industry, with entire series dedicated to the theme. Splinter Cell has always been about being invisible, Ghost Recon follows that suit, and Assassin’s creed is just a few small steps (and wardrobe adjustments) away from actually being about ninjas. Is it weird that those are all Ubisoft games? Even still, action packed series like Call of Duty or Battlefield have their own stealth missions. Imagine something like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, but with ninjas! Tell me that wouldn’t be amazing.
Multiplayer would be effortlessly applicable. Latching on to the Chaos Theory reference, make it just like the Spy vs. Merc mode. Ninjas could use the shadows to infiltrate and take out targets while the guards would have to try and protect themselves or, even better, a VIP, creating mode much like a mix of the Spy vs. Merc mode and Creed’s new VIP mode. That would never get old.
Campaigns would be fresh and intellectual, multiplayer would be – well – fresh and intellectual, and there is a huge opening for two, or more, player co-op. The specificity of Ninja armament would also be a welcome deviation from the traditional silenced pistols and melee. Players would have to make use of their environment and their blades in close range situations. Shurikens would allow limited ranged engagement.
We also have to think about what kind of fighters ninjas were. Yes they were stealth assassins, but they were deadly in open combat as well. A fighting engine much like the Arkham series would work perfectly, giving players the ability to chain off of their enemies and dispatch groups with ease. Just make killing, and dying for that matter, a little more swift. After all, we are fighting with ruthlessly sharp blades. This would add both difficulty and ease to said game. It would be hard to stay alive when confronting large groups but, if the player were dedicated, they could become a master of their blade (metaphorically speaking).
Then the question is what would keep gamers from just running around and slashing their way through the levels? Well, just like any other stealth game, make open engagement restricted at times (I’m sure they had some kind of alarm). One could even, and here’s a novel idea, make missions multi-faceted; more than one target or more than one way to get to the target, like Assassin’s Creed. Now we have a game that is about sneaking, hiding bodies, assassinating one target so you can move on to the next, and all without being seen. Sounds like a blast to me.
Ubisoft has basically already done all of these things, making them especially capable of making this happen, but this doesn’t have to be an exclusive idea. I have a hard time believing that these games wouldn’t be a huge hit. Who wouldn’t want in? I think it’s time we see a true ninja game. Ready. Set. Go!