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Ninja Kid Was My Very First Video Game

Illustration for article titled emNinja Kid/em Was My Very First Video Gameem/em

Good morning Kotaku! I’m Peter Tieryas and I’m your guest editor for MLK Day.

Do you remember your very first video game?

Back in the 80s, I had long seen the Nintendo at friend’s houses. When I finally got my own console, I was given the choice of picking out any additional game I wanted (aside from the Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt that came with it). I was already aware of The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and even Castlevania. But for reasons I’ve long forgotten, I picked a strange game called Ninja Kid.

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Illustration for article titled emNinja Kid/em Was My Very First Video Gameem/em

Based on a Japanese manga series called GeGeGe no Kitaro - Yōkai Daimakyō, it was actually a pretty successful game in Japan, being the 8th best selling game on the Famicom in 1986. When it was ported to the States, they changed the hero from Kitaro, a Ghost Tribe member combating monsters using his hair, to a random Ninja Kid who always fought with a weird smile. I played this game a lot, mainly because after Super Mario, I had nothing else to play. Plus, no one wanted to swap/borrow Ninja Kid for one of the games they had in their collection.

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There were aspects I really enjoyed, from the catchy music to the creepy enemy designs. The levels also mixed up the gameplay with a variety of strange objectives.

Illustration for article titled emNinja Kid/em Was My Very First Video Gameem/em

I recently had the chance to pick up a complete version of the game as I found it for a relatively reasonable price on EBay (I still don’t know what happened to all my old games from long ago). Flipping through the manual was a trip to my past and memories struggling through the game flooded back to me. Even if it wasn’t the best game on the NES, it felt so nostalgic to hold it in my hands again.

Illustration for article titled emNinja Kid/em Was My Very First Video Gameem/em
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I’ve written a lot about JRPGs in previous stints as a guest editor. Inspired by memories of Ninja Kid, I’ll be focusing more on action games today, from Ninja Gaiden 2 to Bayonetta 2 and even some Nier: Automata.

Illustration for article titled emNinja Kid/em Was My Very First Video Gameem/em
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If you’d like to chat, need to point out a glaring grammatical error, want to send over shurikens, have suggestions for games you’d recommend, or want to tip me off on some breaking news, you can do so in the comments below or via Twitter at @TieryasXu.

Peter Tieryas is the author of Mecha Samurai Empire & Cyber Shogun Revolution (Penguin RH). He's written for Kotaku, IGN, & Verge. He was an artist at Sony Pictures & Technical Writer for LucasArts.

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DISCUSSION

Probably better than my first non-Mario/Duck Hunt/Gyromite game I got. Weeks after the Christmas when I got my NES, I had my birthday and had some birthday money. This was early ‘87 so there were far fewer options out there (no Metroid, Zelda, or Kid Icarus in the US yet). I could have picked up Kung Fu or Excitebike, but I picked up GumShoe. Not an awful game, but certainly not overly memorable.

I do remember, in the early NES days, how important the text on the back of the boxes was in making a decision to make a purchase. Many times that was the most you would read about a game before buying it. Video game magazines that covered the NES didn’t really become much bigger until 88 or 89. So much of the decision was based on was word-of-mouth, occasional print ads, and video game boxes.