Do you remember your very first video game?
Back in the ’80s, I had long seen the Nintendo at friends’ 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.
Based on a Japanese manga series called GeGeGe no Kitaro – Yōkai Daimakyō, it was actually a pretty successful game in Japan, being the eighth best selling game on the Famicom in 1986. When it was ported to the US, 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.
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.
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 of 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.