Ninja Spirit, or Saigo no Nindou (Last Way of the Ninja) in Japan, is a 1988 side-scrolling platforming Action Game from Irem. It's most well-known for its port on the TurboGrafx-16 console as well as later re-release on the Nintendo Wii's virtual console, but also appearing as an arcade game and other consoles.
The young ninja Tsukikage ("Moonlight"), journeys through 7 stages, slashes his way through numerous enemies to face the bosses at the end of each. He primarily uses a versatile katana but has access to shuriken, explosives, and kusarigama over the course of the game, as well as a number of power ups.
The game contains these examples:
- Bubble Gun: Maxing out the katana's power turns it into a bubble-lightsaber.
- Classic Cheat Code: In the PC Engine version of the game Mr. Heli no Daibouken, also by Irem, the code for up to 99 continues was I, II, II, I, Select. Entering the same code in Ninja Spirit would just display the message "Do you play Mr. Heli?" This confused some American players, since Mr. Heli was released in the U.S. only as an Arcade Game under the Market-Based Title Battle Chopper.
- Descending Ceiling: The area of the fourth stage leading to the Boss Room is a long corridor with a slowly descending ceiling, with Mooks to hinder you along the way. You have to reach the end before the ceiling touches your head.
- Enemy Roll Call: There is a review of bosses at the end of the TurboGrafx-16 version. However, the names are in kanji even in the US version.
- Epileptic Flashing Lights: An unusually prolonged case of screen flashing appears in the ending (at least in the arcade and TurboGrafx-16 versions), where The Hero transforms back into a wolf.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The second boss is named Soufuki—"Twin Axe Demon". They're a tall, white-haired demon who constantly dashes at you with their twin axes leading the way.
- Flunky Boss: As tall as Makai Hanzo at the end of the third stage is, his sword doesn't swing that quickly, and he's not fast at all. The real problem is the Tanegashima gunners who keep coming in from the sides.
- The Nine Fuuma Clan Ninja at the end of stage five are a similar situation—the knife-throwing ninja on the edges of the kite keep coming back after being slain. You need to kill the pilot in the center who isn't throwing anything at you.
- Giant Mook: Makai Hanzo is an enemy ninja twice as tall as the Player Character, wielding an equally oversized sword with ease.
- Jidaigeki: This story is set in an alternate feudal Japan.
- Kite Riding: The Stage 5 Boss Battle is with the Nine Fuuma Clan Ninja, all nine of whom are arranged on a giant flying kite emblazoned with the kanji 影 ("shadow"). Smaller kites carrying individual enemy ninja appear in the following stage.
- Ninja: The main character is one or rather is taking the place of a deceased one, as are most of the opponents.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: In the TurboGrafx-16 version, Moonlight has five hitpoints in PC-Engine mode, but only one hitpoint in Arcade mode.
- Orbiting Particle Shield: The Wheel of Fire powerup blocks attacks with flames orbiting the player.
- Our Liches Are Different: The Final Boss, the Dai Sokushinbutsu, seems to be a variation on this. Sokushinbutsu were Japanese Buddhist monks who underwent self-mummification to ascend to a particular heaven where they could better aid humanity. This one seems to be more interested in controlling the souls of dead ninja to cause various disasters—and isn't in any heaven or hell.
- Real-Time Weapon Change: This game was one of the first to have this feature - you can switch from katana to shuriken and so on without going into a menu.
- Spikes of Doom: In keeping with its Jidaigeki theme, this game's deadly spikes are made of bamboo.
- Spiritual Successor: Some consider this to be a worthy successor to The Legend of Kage despite being made by completely different developers.
- Stationary Boss: The Asura at the end of the first stage.
- Stealth Pun: Probably unintentional, but Moonlight can create up to three "shadow clones" which follow his every move. Moonlight is casting shadows!
- Variable-Length Chain: The Rising Dragon is a kusarigama whose chain can be extended and spun to sweep across the screen.
- Wolfpack Boss: The end of the sixth stage involves Ochimusha manifesting one after another.