Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (released in Japan as Ninja Ryūkenden II: Ankoku no Jashinken) is a 1990 action platformer developed and originally published by Tecmo for the Nintendo Entertainment System. As the sequel to the first NES Ninja Gaiden title, Ninja Gaiden II retains the original's basic structure while also expanding upon the gameplay with new abilities and power-ups.
The game's plot once again revolves around young ninja protagonist Ryu Hayabusa, this time on a quest to save his girlfriend Irene Lew from the evil lord Ashtar, the mastermind behind Jaquio's scheme to conquer the world during the events of the first game. The "Tecmo Theater" cutscenes made popular in the original NES Ninja Gaiden also return with enhanced graphics and new characters.
A licensed port of Ninja Gaiden II published by GameTek was released in 1991 for DOS-based PCs and Amiga platforms. The NES version was released on the Wii Shop's Virtual Console service in 2007, and was later released on similar online storefronts for 3DS in 2013 and for Wii U in 2016.
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos retains the core gameplay from the original NES Ninja Gaiden, albeit with a few minor changes and additions.
Players control Ryu's movement with the directional pad and jump with the A button, while the B button executes a standard slash attack with Ryu's Dragon Sword katana. Ryu can acquire power-ups and score bonus items by attacking the red crystal spheres positioned around each stage.
Each time Ryu is hit by an enemy attack or environmental hazard, he will lose a certain number of hit points as indicated by the health bar marked "Ninja" in the upper right corner. While fighting a boss, the boss' health will similarly be indicated by the health bar marked "Enemy". Finding the Recovery Medicine item replenishes Ryu's health by six hit points. Exhausting Ryu's health or falling into a pit costs the player a life; if all lives are lost, it's game over. Ninja Gaiden II allows for use of infinite continues, with players resuming from the beginning of the same stage after continuing.
In the original NES game, Ryu was able to cling to walls, but he was unable to scale walls without ladders (except by wall jumping). However, Ninja Gaiden II adds the ability to climb up or down nearly any wall simply by pressing the Up and Down buttons.
Score bonus items appear as pouches; blue pouches are worth 1,000 points and red pouches add 2,000 points to the player's total score. Players earn an extra life for every 100,000 points scored.
Ryu can equip various ninjutsu projectile attacks which consume "Ninja Power," a limited resource that can be replenished by collecting Ninja Power item icons. Blue icons replenish ten points of Ninja Power, while orange icons will fully restore the Ninja Power counter to maximum.
There are five types of ninjutsu in Ninja Gaiden II that can be equipped:
- Throwing Star (5 points) - The most basic shuriken attack which flings a single star straight ahead.
- Windmill Throwing Star (10 points) - Acting as a boomerang, this large shuriken flies back and forth across the screen, taking out enemies until it returns to Ryu.
- The Art of the Fire Wheel (8 points) - Tosses a wheel of fire diagonally upwards.
- Fire Dragon Balls (8 points) - Fires energy balls diagonally downwards.
- Invincible Fire Wheel (15 points) - A special version of the Fire Wheel which encircles Ryu, rendering him temporarily invincible. Unlike in the first game, this power-up can be activated at-will with sufficient Ninja Power.
Additionally, acquiring the "Scroll of the Spirit of the Dragon" item will permanently increase Ryu's maximum Ninja Power by ten points.
The most innovative new feature is the ability to create "Shadow Clones," also referred to as "Phantom Doubles" or "Split Clones," which are orange shadow versions of Ryu. The Shadow Clones constantly follow him and attack at the same time as Ryu. These clones are immune to damage; enemies and projectiles pass through them. If the player stops moving, the clones freeze in place, whether on the ground or in mid-air. The player can have one or two Shadow Clones following after picking up the power up that summons them. In the adjacent screenshot, the player has jumped to the left of the enemy, while his spirit clone remains in mid-air in Ryu's previous position. Frozen in place, the clone copies the attacks of the player.
Ninja Gaiden II is split into seven Acts, with each Act being composed of multiple stages.
Act I: City Ambush
One year after his fateful battle with the evil Jaquio, Ryu receives news that his girlfriend and CIA operative Irene Lew has been kidnapped. Ryu immediately sets out for the city in which she was last spotted, only to be attacked by an army of thugs and their monstrous boss, Dando. After defeating the thugs' leader, Ryu is met by a mysterious man who tells him to head for the Tower of Lahja, where Irene is being held.
Act II: The Journey to Lahja
Ryu races towards Lahja by train before scaling a treacherous snowy mountain buffeted by strong winds. Reaching the peak initiates a battle with the second boss, Baron Spider. The defeated Baron reveals that he and the other bosses are "Tribesmen of Chaos" led by the Emperor of Darkness, Ashtar.
Act III: The Deadly Tower
The final approach to the Tower of Lahja takes Ryu through a pitch-dark forest, with only flashes of lightning to illuminate the path forward. Once inside the Tower, Ryu works his way up to the roof to face off against the bizarre Funky Dynamite, a reptilian cyborg outfitted with a jetpack and explosives. Ryu swiftly defeats the monster, but he is incapacitated by a blast of magic from Ashtar's sword before he can reunite with Irene. As Ashtar lifts his sword to deliver the final blow, Ryu is saved by the gun-wielding mystery man he met earlier, who claims to have the Tower surrounded. Ashtar then escapes into the "Maze of Darkness," dragging Irene along with him.
Act IV: The Maze of Darkness
After Ashtar's departure, Ryu takes the opportunity to gather information from his mysterious benefactor, who introduces himself as Robert T. S. with the U.S. Army's Special Intelligence division. Robert explains that Ashtar's "Sword of Chaos" was carved from the bone of a fell demon, mirroring the manner in which Ryu's Dragon Sword was forged from the fang of a divine dragon. Ryu dives into the firey underground Maze to stop Ashtar before the Sword of Chaos reaches full strength, but he must first defeat the underworld water dragon Naga Sotuva as the stage boss.
Act V: The Wrath of Ashtar
Ashtar calls out to Ryu, taunting him telepathically as he fights his way out of the Maze and through an icy wasteland with slippery footing. Finally Ryu reaches Ashtar's chamber and confronts the Emperor of Darkness, who shoves Irene toward the young ninja just before stabbing her in the back with his Sword of Chaos. Robert arrives just in time to witness Irene fall before Ashtar also incapacitates him with a magic blast. An enraged Ryu battles Ashtar, slicing through his defenses with a relentless assault. Although he is defeated, Ashtar claims the forces of darkness will soon awaken and magically sends away the Sword of Chaos before succumbing to his injuries.
Act VI: The Castle of Chaos
Wounded but still alive, Irene begs Ryu to destroy an altar somewhere ahead in order to stop Ashtar's evil plans. Ryu entrusts Irene to Robert's care, telling them both to escape before setting off through some stone ruins. On the other side of the ruins, a huge demonic castle looms in the distance; here Ryu battles and defeats a familiar pair of enemies known as Kelbeross, whom Ryu recognizes from their original fight a year prior. A dazed and wounded Robert soon arrives to report that Irene has once again been abducted, this time by a shadowy figure that she seemed to recognize.
Act VII: The Almighty Evil
Robert explains that if Ashtar's plan to cast open the Gate of Darkness comes to fruition, it will spell the end of mankind. The sudden arrival of a large force of demons on the scene prompts Robert to play the hero, offering to hold off the demons' advance while Ryu continues ahead to save Irene. After fighting through a grueling gauntlet of minions, Ryu finally reaches the altar chamber and finds Irene. However, their reunion is cut short by the appearance of Jaquio, who reveals that Ashtar and the other Tribesmen were merely pawns in his scheme to overrun the earth with demons.
A fierce rematch ensues, with Ryu again emerging the victor. However, Jaquio's spilled blood awakens the Sword of Chaos, throwing open the Gate of Darkness and transforming Jaquio into a large demon, who Ryu also defeats. Still alive, the demon transforms yet again, leading to a third and final battle. Despite its overwhelming strength, Ryu manages to destroy the demon's final incarnation so that the Gate of Darkness can once again be sealed, which causes the entire castle to begin to collapse.
Ryu escapes the castle with the unconscious Irene, but once outside he realizes she has already succumbed to her wounds. As Ryu mourns Irene, the Dragon Sword glows and disappears, and Irene is miraculously revived, allowing the grateful couple to watch a beautiful sunset together.