In the future ninjas will pose for pictures and the moon will be crazy big!
Imagine going on a wild adventure full of danger and intrigue. Along the way you take out hundreds of armed men, survive the high seas on a large boat and ultimately assassinate an evil emperor. It was the craziest experience of your life, the type of thing you'll be talking about for years to come. There's just one problem: When you get home all of your crazy adventures have been attributed to somebody else. Nobody believes that you went on this wild journey to save the world; they think this guy you've never heard of did it. It turns out that this exact thing happened to Hayate, the hero of Shadow of the Ninja.
Originally released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Shadow of the Ninja was one of the few games that could go
Some critics complained that Shadow of the Ninja was a generic Ninja Gaiden clone!
toe-to-toe with Tecmo's mighty Ninja Gaiden. It was set in the future, when an evil dictator was had taken over the United Stated of America. To stop Emperor Garuda, Lord Hayate and Lady Kaede are sent to infiltrate the stronghold. In true video game fashion, this meant going through a bunch of challenging levels, defeating tricky bosses and slamming your head against the desk in frustration.
Eventually Hayate and Kaede make their way to the top of Emperor Garuda's tower. After a long battle, the two ninjas get their revenge and save the world from this brutal
Does this look like the face that would steal another ninja's adventure?
dictator. With evil defeated and the United States safe again, the ninja duo vanished and prepared for their next mission. At least, that's what the game tells us happens.
In truth, Hayate and Kaede return home to discover that everybody thinks that Ryu Hayabusa was the hero. How could this be? These two ninjas risked life and limb to take down this tyrant, and yet somebody else swoops in to take the credit. Not that they were expecting a medal, but a simple "thank you" would have been appreciated.
Oddly enough, it's not Ryu's fault. Having already starred in two 8-bit Ninja Gaiden games, Ryu was a season pro at saving the day. Little did he know that Tecmo was about to toss him into somebody else's adventure. Oh sure, the cartridge said Ninja Gaiden Shadows, but Ken Hayabusa's kid had suddenly become the unwitting star of a black and white Shadow of the Ninja game.
LAZY: Tecmo didn't even bother to make new cover art for Ninja Gaiden Shadow!
It's not as devious as it sounds. Back in the early 1990s, Natsume was looking to extend the life of its 8-bit ninja game on the Game Boy. While not a direct port, Shadow of the Ninja GB certainly had a lot of the same trappings that made the NES game so memorable. Natsume even got the media involved, showing the portable outing to as many games journalist as it could to drum up hype for the project. It worked ... maybe a little too well.
As it turns out, Tecmo had been eyeing the Shadow of the Ninja development for some time. It's no secret that Tecmo had previously toyed with the idea of
Don't worry, he's not talking about THAT skyscraper!
bringing Ninja Gaiden to portable systems, though by 1991 most concepts had been scrapped. This was their chance to swoop in, pick up the rights to Shadow of the Ninja and make it their own. And faster than Ryu could steal back ancient artifacts, the game was repurposed and renamed.
Gone was any mention of Hayate or the futuristic New York City he vowed to protect. In its place was Ryu Hayabusa fighting the evil Emperor Garuda (who was said to be
How Hayate knows how Wonder Boy feels!
a servant of Jaquio). It was as if Hayate's journey never happened. Like a trained ninja, it simply vanished into the night. For more twenty years, Ryu Hayabusa has been getting away with stealing somebody else's amazing adventure.
Close friends always knew Ryu's lie. When they finally saw his adventure play out, they knew that these were not the moves of the ninja they had come to know. Ryu was suddenly hanging from the wall and using a grappling hook to traverse tricky locations. Who does he think he is, Nathan "Rad" Spencer? Ryu wasn't fooling anybody.
To this day most people still don't know the true story. Hayate and Kaede have since retired from the ninja game, leaving the heavy lifting to Ryu Hayabusa and his tall tales. Deep down they know what they did and are at peace with it. A ninja doesn't need parades and streets named after them; he just needs to know he did the right thing. The rest of the world may not appreciate the hard work Hayate put in, but we do.