The Japanese warrior spirit is an iconic part of gaming culture, and there is perhaps no more prominent representation of this than the ninja and samurai. These warriors have captured our imaginations with their legendary skills, bravery, and honour. Over the years, we have seen countless depictions of these legendary warriors in video games. From stealthy ninjas to fearsome samurai, these characters have become an integral part of gaming culture. I wanted to take a closer look at some of the most iconic ninja and samurai in video games, including Musashi Miyamoto, Ayame, Jin Sakai, and others. We will also discuss the best samurai video games that have allowed us to immerse ourselves in this captivating world.
Samurai and ninja – The Difference
Samurai and ninja are two iconic figures of Japanese history and culture, often featured in various forms of media including video games. While both are skilled warriors, there are significant differences between the two. Samurai were members of the noble class in feudal Japan and were known for their code of conduct, bushido, which emphasized loyalty, honor, and self-discipline. They were typically employed as protectors and fighters by feudal lords, known as daimyo. On the other hand, ninja were mercenaries who specialized in covert operations such as espionage, sabotage, and assassination. They were known for their secrecy and their ability to operate stealthily. While samurai and ninja are often portrayed as enemies in video games and other media, they actually lived in different times and had distinct roles in Japanese society.
The ninja theme is not very popular in Japanese gambling. For those who are tired of the lack of representation of these beloved characters in mainstream video games, new online casino platforms provide a refreshing alternative. With its focus on samurai and ninja-themed slots and other casino games, casino sites offer a unique and entertaining experience for fans of Japanese culture and history. But still, sometimes you can find interesting slots with this theme in online casinos. In addition to enjoying the game, you can also earn money.
Best Samurai and Ninja in Video Games
Joe Musashi | Shinobi
The first ninja to truly make his mark in gaming has to be Joe Musashi, star of the 1987 arcade smash hit Shinobi. From his first outing in 1987 people to his secret appearance in the latest Shinobi game in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS fans of ninjitsu have been hooked on his shuriken throwing antics. Joe Musashi has been one of Sega’s flagship characters since his 1987 smash hit game and he even acted as a mascot for a short time in the late 1980s when ninja’s suddenly became very popular thanks to things like the films Enter the Ninja, American Ninja, and Bloodsport as well as appearances of ninjas in cartoons like G.I. Joe and He-Man. Despite not being in all 14 games of the Shinobi franchise. Joe Musashi remains one of the most popular ninjas in gaming.
Strider Hiryu | Strider
Most fans know Strider from his 1989 arcade hit Strider but the character actually debuts over a year earlier in 1988 in a Japanese exclusive manga series entitled Strider Hiryu. Unlike traditional ninjas, Strider comes from the future and as such he has access to various weapons and gadgets traditional ninjas could only dream of owning. From robotic panther sidekicks to laser swords, everything about Strider screams cool. Whether you remember him from his debut game in 1989 or the 2014 remake, one thing is certain… Strider Hiryu is everything you could hope for in a ninja protagonist
Haohmaru | Samurai Showdown
Haohmaru is without a doubt the star of the Samurai Showdown series of video games and he is even credited with defeating many of the series’ main antagonists. Roughly based on famed samurai Musashi Miyamoto, Haohmaru embodies everything you know about a samurai and then some. From his use of samurai swords to his traditional samurai outfit, there is no doubt about his samurai spirit and this is why fans all over the world love Haohmaru.
Nobunaga Oda | Inindo: Way of the Ninja
Nobunaga is a controversial figure in Japanese history and has been featured as an antagonist more times than he has been considered a hero, but that is why we love him and I included him on this list. Whether we are trying to overthrow him in the Onimusha series, in Inindo: Way of the Ninja, or in Sengoku or helping him to build an empire in Shogun Total War, Kessen 3, or Ninja Gaiden 2 Nobunaga Oda always leaves an impression on the player. Oda is so famous and controversial that he has a series of video games, Nobunaga’s Ambition, based on his life and ascension to the Japanese throne.
Kasumi | Dead or Alive
As both the mascot for the Dead or Alive franchise and the star of many gamers’ wet dreams, Kasumi is known more for her assets than her ninja abilities. However, if you look past her sex appeal you will find a formidable fighter who uses her sexuality to her advantage when taking down larger opponents in the Dead or Alive ring. Even if you don’t know her name, you definitely know her looks…whether you admit it to your girlfriend or wife or not.
Samanosuke Akechi | Onimusha: Warlords
Star of the 2001 Playstation 2 mega-hit Onimusha: Warlords, Samanosuke takes samurai into new territory…ghost busting! Ok, he’s more of a demon slayer, but this mesh of concepts helped launch the Onimusha series of games as well as earn Samanosuke Akechi a place on this list. Wielding several authentic samurai weapons Samanosuke is a well-rounded fighter who can kill many enemies in 1 hit if the player times it just right. Should demonic forces invade the real world we would be lucky to have a guy like Samanosuke on our side.
Yoshimitsu | Tekken
Hailing from the Tekken series of games Yoshimitsu is something of an enigma. So much in fact that his guest appearances in Soul Calibur have yet to be confirmed as the real Yoshimitsu or some sort of imposter or ancestor, although some hints have been given to the ancestor angle. What we do know about Yoshimitsu is he heads up the Manji Ninja Clan, possesses a mystical sword passed down from clan leader to clan leader, and has a unique clockwork arm that allows for some crazy sword swinging moves. Many a time gamers angrily walked away from a Tekken arcade machine or tossed a controller down in frustration after losing to this ninja master.
Ryu Hayabusa | Ninja Gaiden
The star of the 1988 Ninja Gaiden arcade game is arguably the most popular ninja character in the history of gaming. Starring in 12 different Ninja Gaiden games as well as appearing in the Dead or Alive series, Ryu Hayabusa has appeared in more games than anyone else on this list. Ryu is so popular that many of you reading this were surprised to see he was not at the number one spot, but rest assured I only wanted to save the best for last.
Raiden | Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Raiden is a cyborg ninja who appears in the Metal Gear series. He was once a child soldier who was taken in by the Patriots and turned into a cyborg. Raiden wields a high-frequency blade and has superhuman strength and agility. He has an interesting backstory that includes his struggles with PTSD.
Ayame | Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Ayame is a female ninja who serves as the main protagonist in the Tenchu series. She is a skilled assassin trained in the art of stealth and deception. Ayame wields two short swords and has the ability to cling to walls and ceilings. Her backstory includes being orphaned at a young age and raised by the Azuma ninja clan.
General Tenzen | Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
General Tenzen Yamauchi is a samurai general who appears in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. This general is clad in heavy samurai armor, with a horned black helmet and red accented armor. He uses a Nodachi as his main weapon.
Kage | Shadow of the Ninja
Kage is a male ninja who serves as the main protagonist in Shadow of the Ninja. He is a member of the Oboro clan and is tasked with stopping an evil emperor. Kage wields a katana and has the ability to use shuriken and other ninja weapons. His backstory includes being orphaned at a young age and taken in by the Oboro clan.
Jubei | Onimusha: Warlords
Jubei is a samurai who appears in the Onimusha series. He is a skilled warrior who is tasked with defeating demons. Jubei wields a katana and has the ability to use magic and summon elemental spirits. His backstory includes being a member of the Oni clan and being tasked with protecting a princess.
Taki | Soulcalibur
Taki is a female ninja who appears in the Soulcalibur series. She is a skilled warrior who is tasked with protecting her clan. Taki wields two short swords and has the ability to use ninjutsu techniques. Her backstory includes being orphaned at a young age and being raised by her grandfather.
Zer0 | Borderlands 2
Zer0 is a robotic assassin who appears in Borderlands 2. He is a skilled sniper who is seeking to prove his worth. Zer0 wields a sword and has the ability to turn invisible. His backstory is mysterious and unknown.
Hanzo Hattori | World Heroes
Hanzo Hattori is a samurai who appears in the World Heroes series. He is a skilled swordsman who is seeking to prove his worth. Hanzo wields a katana and has the ability to use fire attacks. His backstory includes being a member of the Hattori clan and being tasked with protecting Japan.
Ayane | Dead or Alive
Ayane is a female ninja who appears in the Dead or Alive series. She is a skilled fighter who is seeking to prove her worth. Ayane wields a pair of sai and has the ability to use ninjutsu techniques. Her backstory includes being orphaned at a young age and being taken in by the Mugen Tenshin clan.
Honorable Mentions: The entire cast of the Samurai Warriors series
Mostly based on real-life historical figures, the Samurai Warriors cast includes ninjas, samurai, ronin, and a few gun-toting maniacs from the Saika clan. The only reason they didn’t make the list, with the exception of Nobunaga Oda, was the fact that the series was still too new to be considered classic by my standards. Maybe in a few more years, they will get a legitimate spot on the list.
There you have it ninja and samurai game fans, Iconic Ninja and Samurai in Gaming. Some may be more famous than the people on the list, some may be more popular, some might even be better fighters… but you can not deny the impact each one of these guys and girls had on gaming.