My childhood was in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Back then, video games were a different breed. You had to get really good at finding patterns and have the endurance to beat a game in one sitting.
There wasn’t any saving or checkpoints. It was all or nothing, you beat it or you don’t.
The world of video games was completely unforgiving.
I like to go back to these games every now and then because it was a more pure experience. You vs the game. No breaks, You win or lose.
No where was this more evident then in a game called Ninja Gaiden for Nintendo.
Ninja Gaiden is Extremely Difficult
There’s two kinds of hard Nintendo games. There’s hard games because the game was programmed poorly, and then there’s hard games that you could beat, but they are just difficult as hell.
Ninja Gaiden was the latter.
This game was incredibly difficult, but also extremely fun to play. You got actual satisfaction from finding out how to progress to the next level. Each time you did, you were met with a new cutscene progressing the story, and a new level that got much harder.
As a kid, I can remember playing this a lot, and being amped as hell when I got to a new level only to be stuck there for a while.
Perserverence and stamina were essential to playing this game. You needed to memorize each level in order to get the right sequence to defeat it. This wasn’t difficult because you usually had to play through each level many times before you could progress.
However, once you got to a new level, it was easy to get back up to that same point. You had the knowledge that you got so far, so getting there again was within the realm of possibilities.
This is the same way everything works. Keep working on something and eventually you become so proficient that it becomes second nature. Then you get to the next level and the cycle repeats itself until you are a pro.
As a child, I never beat the game. I was only able to do so when I came back to it years later as an adult.
I learned something about the game when I started playing again that I didn’t figure out as a kid. The secret to the game is to never stop moving forward unless you absolutely have to.
Your default mode while playing should be hitting the move forward button. 90% forward, 10% stop. Moving forward with reckless abandon is your friend in this game, but the game will do everything to make it seem like this is a bad idea.
This game has every kind of enemy flying at you from all angles. We’re talking ninjas, eagles, bats, dogs, guys with axes, soldiers with machine guns, old women in robes throwing crosses, pro boxers, and guys on jet packs throwing ninja stars at you. There’s complete chaos on the screen.
Your biggest enemy however is falling down a hole. 9 times out of ten if you die in this game, it’s because you fell down some shaft. This is because when you get hit, you fly backwards and can’t move.
Another thing thing to contend with is the actual programming of the game.
Nintendo games often got “glitchy”. Ninja Gaiden was no different. This meant that enemies would spawn all over the place, and would sometimes respawn at the same spot despite you killing them. If you weren’t constantly moving forward, you would quickly find yourself surrounded by enemies.
This is the same in life. You can’t stay stagnant because you’ll find yourself surrounded by demons. These demons are discontent, depression, and procrastination. If you’re not constantly moving forward in life, you’ll wake up years later stuck in the same job with no life.
What’s stopping people from moving forward on living life? Fear of the unknown with what lies ahead. In the game, there’s a number of times where you have to jump from one spot to another and they throw an enemy at you mid jump to knock you to your death.
You have to be ready for this to kill the enemy in the middle of every jump. This makes the typical player scared at each jump.
Every time you start something new there’s shit thrown at you to derail you. Keep moving forward ready to strike.
Bend the Rules
This is a very glitchy game. Just by moving back and forth you can make enemies disappear off the edge of the screen. At first you think it’s just a quirk of being an early Nintendo game. Then you start to realize about half way through the game that it may be a feature in order to throw more enemies at you.
At one point late in the game, there’s a ledge that you have to jump on to advance that is very small. On this ledge is an old woman throwing crosses at you. When you jump at her an eagle comes out of the sky to hit you out. If you go backwards, army guys run at you. It seems like there is no way to advance.
I got up to this spot so many times and had to quit the game because I couldn’t figure it out. I kept dying. Jump forward and you’re getting hit. Move backwards and a guy jumps at you. Stay still and the time runs out.
What you have to do here is walk back and forth on the ledge ever so slightly in order to activate the glitchiness of the game and make the old woman dissappear off the next ledge.
I discovered this by accident one day playing and was completely astonished that I almost died again.
It begs the question, did the programmers put the glitchiness in the game as a feature in order to force players to think outside the box?
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to move forward without activating real life glitches. Sometimes you have to break rules in order to succeed.
The Government isn’t to be Trusted
The story of the game is pretty straight forward. A bad guy is trying to summon a demon using two demon statues. During the course of the story you get kidnapped by the CIA. They are interested in stopping the bad guy from summoning the demon, seemingly to save the world.
Of course they had alterior motives. Turns out the CIA didn’t care about how many people would die because a huge demon would be loose. They just wanted the power of the demon for themselves and couldn’t let it fall into the hands of someone else.
Since this time I’ve noticed that the government is never altruistic. Everything they do is either throwing the masses a bone to keep them calm, or evil actions masked with doublespeek.
As a general rule, the opposite of what they say is usually true. Affordable care act is actually making health care more expensive. No Children Left Behind is meant to make every child an obedient worker who only memorizes stuff for stantardized tests.
CIA agent Foster was the first to show me this.
Grab a Nintendo, sit down, and play Ninja Gaiden. Embrace the strong lessons to be learned from this incredible game.
If you manage to beat it, you can now do anything in life because nothing is harder than beating Ninja Gaiden.