Released APR 11, 2023

(originally released Jul 24, 1990)

MSRP: $3.99 Category: 2D side scrolling beat em up
Publisher: SNKDeveloper: Alpha Denshi (original)
Reviewed on: iOS – iPhone 14 ProAlso on: Android, Switch, PS4 & 5, Xbox One & Series S/X


NINJA COMBAT is an action game released in 1990 by SNK.

In order to defeat the evil ninja clan KAGE ICHIZOKU, justice-seeking ninjas head towards the NINJA TOWER.

Enjoy battling with a wide array of weapons and ninja magic as well as the ability for a friend to join the action.


Ninja Combat is a side scrolling beat em up action game, much like Final Fight or Streets of Rage. It can be played two player simultaneously, and it has multiple characters you unlock (when you defeat each stage boss from the first few stages you unlock them as a playable character and can switch your character at the beginning of each new stage.) You play as (you guessed it) a ninja and you’re fighting other ninjas and bad guys for some unknown reason. Seriously, there is pretty much no story, but then again do you really need a lot of story? The main opening cutscene has this dialog:

“That’s the Ninja Tower, isn’t it?”

“It’s like a fortress, isn’t it?”

“It looks more like a small hut to me!”

“Let’s go Joe.”

“I’m ready pal.”

“Ninja Combat!”

Very deep and involved plot aside, the graphics are pretty good for a game from the 90s, with the large sprites you expect from Neo-Geo games, but honestly I would have expected more from the Neo-Geo, even back in the 90s. While it certainly doesn’t look bad, it doesn’t look remarkably better than a game would have on the Super Nintendo. However, looking at the game as a port, the graphics are faithful to the original and look good on the iPhone.

The audio for Ninja Combat is pretty subpar and definitely nothing to take note of. While the music and sound effects aren’t bad per se, they are largely forgettable and don’t add much to the overall experience. Again, coming from the powerhouse arcade-at-home console of the 90s, I would have expected better from the Neo-Geo.

In terms of gameplay, Ninja Combat is largely your standard 90s beat em up, with unique weapons for each character, and the ability to pick up melee weapons, such as swords or nunchucks (however the unlockable boss characters can’t use them). The game isn’t complicated but it contains A LOT of cheap hits that result in death OFTEN.

Since this is an arcade Neo-Geo port, you can simply insert another virtual quarter and immediately continue playing, but if you’re hoping to get through the game with no continues, all I can say is best of luck to you.

You can watch some of my gameplay from Ninja Combat below:

In terms of fun, Ninja Combat is middle of the road. The fighting combat is relatively simple and while it has a few special moves it is nothing as rich as a game like Streets of Rage 2. The cheap deaths and hits can get annoying after a while, and generally take away from the fun, but since you can continue indefinitely this isn’t really a problem for completing the game.

Ninja Combat clearly isn’t one of the Neo-Geo’s best games, so if you liked it in the 90s, or always wanted to play it but didn’t get a chance to, then you’ll probably have fun with this. If you’re expecting a game of the same caliber as Final Fight or Streets of Rage 2, you might be disappointed.

Even back in the day, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) gave Ninja Combat two 4s, a 5 and a 6, which isn’t good. You can see their review here on the Internet Archive.


While I’m very grateful to both SNK and Hamster for continuing to port Neo-Geo games to modern devices, this is not one of the best games in the Neo-Geo catalog.

However, at only $4, all the games in the Neo-Geo collection are pretty good deals, and if you want some beat em up action on the go, you could certainly do worse than this on a mobile phone.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with this port of the game on mobile, and the touchscreen controls work well enough in a game like this. Any complaints are levied at the original game itself.


  • Large good looking character sprites, backgrounds and animations
  • Tight enough controls to keep the action flowing
  • Ability to play as different characters with different abilities is interesting
  • Unlimited continues


  • THIS GAME IS CHEAP and you will die OFTEN
  • Not the best beat em up from the 90s era nor from the Neo-Geo’s catalog


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