As seen in: Ninja Gaiden (Arcade)
Also in: Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)
Distinguishing feature: Being a ninja who's too cool for stealth.
Strengths: Slicing up New York street punks; stopping demonic invasions.
Weaknesses: Birds; just-a-girls.

Profile by Kat Bailey? | February 13, 2010

Ryu Hayabusa is no ordinary ninja. His nickname is apparently "Super Ninja," which suggests that he goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to doing ninja-like things. The difference, it would seem, is that Ryu is so super that he doesn't need to be stealthy. In fact, he's apparently happy to take on the entire city of New York and all its wild dogs, street punks and bar-hopping barbarians in broad daylight.

Thanks to the miracle of cinematic cutscenes, we know a bit more about Ryu's dark past than we do most other 8-bit protagonists, which helps shed some light on why exactly he was carving up wild dogs in America. After receiving a letter informing him that his father was killed in a mysterious duel, he headed overseas to seek revenge, only to find himself embroiled in the dark doings of demonic overlords and the CIA, which are of course interchangeable. In the process, he met his greatest foe, the only enemy who could possibly defeat a Super Ninja.


As Ryu quickly discovered, these ninja-hating birds (and their cousins, bats) loved to hide out of sight, then pounce and plunge him into a dark abyss. The demon Jacquio's most devious lackeys were extremely good at what they did, constantly earning "Minion of the Month" awards while Ryu did his best to memorize their irregular patterns. Even when he knew they were coming, the birds were still quite capable of bringing him down.

The birds and bats would go on to harass Ryu over the course of all his adventures, attacking him on trains, mountainsides and ancient ships of doom. Thankfully, though, Ryu managed to pick up a few weapons of his own, using his powers of non-stealth to create phantom doubles of himself, or send curtains of fire at an angle to torch whatever got in his way. These would prove instrumental in defeating Jacquio's demonic hordes, as well as foes like Ashtar and Clancy.

Unfortunately, for all this power, Ryu wasn't a very observant fellow. At various points in his adventures, he was shot by CIA agent Irene Lew, had a decidedly normal ninja steal a demonic statue out from under his very nose, and fell for the ol' supervillain trapdoor trick. While he managed to escape every time, it's apparent that Ryu slept through the ninja classes at the Ninja Academy.

Nevertheless, he was good enough to eventually reach his father, only to be forced to kill him. More than a little ticked off, he went on to end Jacquio's plans for world domination, destroy his South American temple, and get the girl. Ryu may not be very good at being stealthy, but he's definitely super enough to have those action hero tropes down cold. But as the famous movie suggests, he may want to beware the birds.

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