Video game release dates… The unknown frontier. These are the passages of Video Game Yore. It’s continuing mission, to explore why we lost this piece of video game history. To seek out new information and new revelations. To boldly search where no one has searched before.

We at Video Game Yore have taken on yet another daunting mission! When, exactly, was Ninja Gaiden for the NES released in North America?

Well, it was in 1989! We totally know it was!

 

Ninja Gaiden Title Screen

 

Boom 1989! So there you have it! Another victory bagged for Gaming Rebellion!  Join us next time for the next episode of Video Game Yore when we try to discover when—

Gaming Rebellion Editors:  Uhm, side note Mr. Jareske, the date displayed in a title screen is not always the year the game was released…

Oh.  Hm.  Ok then.  *cracks knuckles*  Alright The Google, let’s take a look to see when Ninja Gaiden was released for the NES.

 

Google Search When

Humm, apparently denizens of the Internet /really/ want to know the day of their conception…

Anyway…

 

NG Plot

 

According to Wikipedia, Ninja Gaiden was released in North America sometime in March 1989. Rad! Wikipedia has given us March 1989 as a starting point! Unfortunately, this entry lacks citation, but March 1989 felt like a good place to start.

So we would scour through online newspaper archives to seek a newspaper advertisement for Ninja Gaiden’s release.

(File not found)

Then we would try to find scans of a toy company, or video game store weekly circular.

(File not found)

Starting to get desperate we searched video game journalism websites.

 

Giant Bomb

 

Apparently, it was released on March 15th 1989. However, we think that the March 15th date is quite the bold claim considering Wikipedia did not have a release day. While this website, which is Giant Bomb by the way, doesn’t cite the source of their claim, this website could ultimately be correct. However, it is also safe to speculate that March 15th is a default date that the site required to be filled so the article could be posted.

So, without any sort of citation, we try again. Only this time, we went bigger:

 

IGN Ninja Gaiden

 

Huh, so IGN, the biggest gaming site on the net is claiming May of 1989. Also without a posted citation. So now we have conflicting evidence. This just doesn’t make any sense…

Alright! *Rolls up sleeves, loosens tie* The time had come, it was time to, crowdsource.

We fired off questions on Quora, Reddit, and another social network that we’ll discuss later. Quora has come up dry with an answer, yet we are hopeful that something may surface. Reddit looped us back to our starting point of Wikipedia. Then proceeded to quote said Wikipedia article… Alright-eee-then…

Ah, light-bulb moment, magazines! We need to find Nintendo Power scans.

 

magazine-nintendo-power-ninja-gaiden-v1-5-of-6-1989_3-page-2

 

Whoo! Good Ol’ Nintendo Power Magazine! The only trouble with magazines, especially from this time, is that the writers would not always know when the game was going to be released before the magazine went to print. Looking through the pages a release date was not found.

While Googling alternative magazine scan sources…

*Bloop*

Ken Polsson’s Chronology of Nintendo Video Games scrolled across the screen. Intriguing. We could hardly believe our eyes, we had finally found what we’ve been looking for, a source citation! We were elated to find a website that cited a tangible source, even if we still didn’t find the exact release date. The citation directed us to Nintendo Power Magazine the November 2010 issue.

Off to Retromags!

(File not found)

You gotta be kidding!

Off to Twitter!

Twitter is the other crowd sourcing network that wasn’t mentioned earlier. Our fingers trembled as we typed out the carefully chosen characters. “We need a scan of Nintendo Power Issue 260 (November 2010)”

Oh please, oh please…

Then, like touching the finger of God, Jason C @setaimx on Twitter came to our rescue.

 

Ninja Gaiden setaimx

 

Look! Just… LOOK! Printed proof that showed March 1989! Added bonus, proper pronunciation of Gaiden, which is “guy-den”.

Well, we thought, Nintendo originally published the magazine in house, and should know the release date of the game, right?

 

Nintendo Search

 

Oh no! It’s disappointing that even the big N’s website doesn’t show an exact release day. Finding this lack of information unacceptable we reached out to Nintendo directly via their website, but something must have gone wrong…

 

Brent Email

 

*Blank stare at phone* WIKIPEDIA?! WHAT THE WHAT? KAAAAAAAHHHHHNNNNoohh… This reply from Nintendo is, heartbreaking. No word has been created to describe the sad/mad/letdown swirl of emotions… Did this person feel that we were incapable of checking Wikipedia? This is a research project after all. How insane is it that a video game company not only doesn’t know the release date of a game released on their system, but also refers fans to Wikipedia! Which by the way Nintendo, is also maintained by fans! *shakes head*

But wait, what’s this at the bottom of the email? “Your Nintendo UK Team”. So, hold up! This came from the UK team!? Oh crap, we must have clicked the wrong English customer service department! So, we resubmitted, to Nintendo of America:

 

Nintendo-Ninja-Gaiden-Reply1

 

Alright, thank you for your cordial email, Nintendo of America Inc. If you didn’t’ read the email above, it simply referred us back to their website page that caused us to reach out to Nintendo in the first place.

So, while we felt that this was an acceptable response, the Video Game Yore team has decided to further press Nintendo of America for the release date. We feel that they may respond better to traditional communication, better known as the letter (since we all know how well Nintendo’s online abilities are, let’s not forget that this was a company founded in the 19th century after all). So we have printed our article from Gaming Rebellion, slurped the seal on the envelope, waved it off with our nice mail man, and now we anxiously wait for a reply.

While we were contacting Nintendo for a third time, we reached out to the American division of Tecmo, or as they are known now, Koei Tecmo. Their reply was short and to the point, but appreciated none the less:

 

Koei-Tecmo-Reply1

 

Well, after compiling the evidence which included contacting both Nintendo and Tecmo, as well as hunting through various sources on the web and in actual print magazines, our conclusion is that the North American release of Ninja Gaiden for the Nintendo Entertainment System was without a doubt in March of 1989. Proof wasn’t found by the Video Game Yore team to say that the game was released on March 15th specifically, (or in May) like some sources have claimed, so we’ll just have to stick with March in general for now.

If you have information to prove Video Game Yore wrong, or you can help us with the exact release day, we’d love to hear from you!

 

Sources:

 

Nintendo’s Website: http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/AB6fNnYyngYLPy_5S0ugegTs2hIITnie

Nintendo Power Magazine: March/April 1989 Issue; November 2010, Volume 260

Giant Bomb: http://www.giantbomb.com/ninja-gaiden/3030-1653/

Chronology of Nintendo Video Games: http://vidgame.info/nintendo/nin1988.htm

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninja_Gaiden_(NES_video_game)

IGN: http://www.ign.com/games/ninja-gaiden-nes/nes-6038

  • arcade_android

    This was a fun read, Brent. I want to believe that Tecmo and Nintendo of America were able to say with confidence that March 1989 was the release date, but then Nintendo of UK’s response makes me wonder if their email teams just went to Wikipedia. Still, it’s cool that you were able to get responses from them all!