MacNinja is a 2D single-player fighting game developed by Ron Minor (with help from his son Remo) in 1989. Though it was released as a “shareware production”, some versions of the game suggest users consider it a 30 day trial - if they enjoy the game, they should send 10 dollars in an envelope to the developer's address in Las Vegas.
The eponymous ninja is not the player character, but the adversary.
MacNinja is not strictly health bar-based. As the karate student players have access to six moves with which to defeat the ninja. Players can move the student along the horizontal plane and duck to avoid attacks. All of the movement and attack controls can be mapped to different keys, or the player can simply click on the attack icons on the bottom of the screen to perform them. Each move is assigned 1-5 points, and players should try to get as high a score as possible within the allotted time (60 seconds) while moving through each of the seven levels. Higher-risk attacks, like the Chop and Low Punch, require the player to be closer to the ninja, and are worth more points than the High Kick and Long Punch, which can land from a safer distance. Knowing the exact distance to use each move is a large part of success in the game. Attacks in MacNinja cannot be cancelled or quickly combo'd, and those with longer wind-up and wind-down times can leave the player exposed if the attack misses.
The ninja not only has access to the same moves as the player, but can also throw ninja stars. A single ninja star or strike from the ninja is enough to KO the player and end the round. The ninja can also be defeated with a single attack, but, due to accidental or intended design, sometimes more are necessary. Quick reflexes are key to progress in the late levels of the game, as the ninja will throw stars regardless of his distance to the player, which can make closing-in on the ninja difficult. Levels are given colors as names (White is the first level) which correspond to the difficulty, a motif inspired by karate belt colors.
MacNinja runs on Macs that are System 6, 7 or 8 compatible and requires 323 kb of RAM.