As seen in: Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (Arcade)
Also in: Ninja Yanchamaru-kun 2 (Famicom)
Distinguishing feature: Anachronistic punk-rock hairdo.
Strengths: A spinning blade inspired by the Ginsu craze of the 80s.
Weaknesses: “Radical” is now reserved for the wonderful world of irony.
We Americans may have feared the Japanese as our future economic overlords in the '80s, but certain aspects of Eastern culture still managed to enchant those terrified by efficiency, raw fish and tiny electronics. After all, most consumer goods from this decade were absolutely full of ninjas: Cartoons, breakfast cereals, child underpants, and—yes—Nintendo games. The latter category especially had more than its share of ninja-based entertainment: Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Boy, Ninja Crusaders, The Last Ninja, Shadow of the Ninja, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and so on. But only one ninja was truly radical – and in case you couldn’t tell by the name of his game, that ninja is Kid Niki, radical ninja.
What makes Niki so “radical” in comparison to his contemporaries? Merely glancing at his game's cover art will show you that this very adjective could be used to describe “Kid” Niki’s subversive take on the English language; his bronzed-up, grizzled figure is clearly that of a man pushing 40. Not to mention the fact that his memorable battle cry of “WILL HELP YOU!” points to someone trying to break new ground with sentence structure. But this whole “Kid” thing could be just an ironic nickname, like when a super fat guy goes by “Tiny” in those movies where everyone is wearing a hat for some reason.
No, Niki’s streak of radicalism runs much deeper than his tragic inability to let go of his youth. Just play a few minutes of Radical Ninja and you’ll quickly learn why Kid Niki deserves such a title: Whereas most ninjas observe a code of stealthiness, Niki’s antics fly in the face of everything you thought you knew about feudal Japanese mercenaries. Just look at the guy -- he bounds across the earth in broad daylight while wearing a bright red outfit and a ridiculous haircut. If that isn’t radical ninja-ing, I don’t know what is. I guess you could claim that Niki is just comically incompetent at his job, but if so, how was he able to hold onto it for so long? It doesn’t take an amateur psychologist to realize that Kid Niki’s relatively ostentatious getup is just a cry for help, a desperate attempt to stand out in a sea of similar NES ninjas. So I guess when you get down to it, Kid Niki isn’t radical. He’s sadical.