Retro Gaming 10’s- Mark of the Ninja: (2012)

The early 10’s was such a great time to be a fan of gaming in general mainly because there were so many video game genres that were popular across multiple consoles. During the early 2010’s people were mainly into first-person shooters, RPG’s, MMORPG’s and more. For the most part it felt like indie games were overshadowed on consoles like the PS3 and the Xbox 360 which was prior to the mid 10’s. One of the few indie games from the PS3/Xbox 360 era that was looked was a 2D side scrolling action-stealth title published by Microsoft Studios known as Mark of the Ninja. For those who do not know Mark of the Ninja was developed by Klei Entertainment and released back in 2012. The cool thing about Mark of the Ninja was the fact that its overall presentation and gameplay mechanics looked better than Capcom’s Strider title from 2014. The art design for the characters and the levels looked beautiful and still looks great to this day. Mark of the Ninja had an intriguing plot were players controlled an unnamed protagonist character who is accompanied by a female ninja named Ora. The story for Mark of the Ninja revolved around players rescuing their sensei named Azai after he was captured by a private military contractor known as Hessian ran by one of the game’s main antagonists Count Karajan.

The game not only saw the main protagonist rescue his sensei but he also travels to East Asia to murder another central antagonist named Corporal Kelly who arranged the attack on the Hisomu clan which he belonged to. As players progressed throughout the game they discover that the story takes an unexpected twist when he learns that Azai ordered the heist against Hessen in order to obtain access to their advanced technology. Azai’s actions were a response to his own failure to protect the desert flowers used to give his clan enhanced physical abilities through the ink of irezumi tattoos. By the time players get to the end of the game they are left with the option of killing Ora or Azai with each choice producing separate endings. Ora wanted Azai dead for disgracing his clan and Azai wanted the protagonist to commit suicide to prevent himself from being driven into madness by the ink of his own tattoo. While Mark of the Ninja had somewhat of a dark story the game itself was probably one of the most underrated 2D titles to have emerged from the early 10’s.

A majority of the gameplay relied on players hiding from security guards armed with machine guns on order to complete each mission. Players were able to utilize daggers to create distractions in order to sneak up and kill personnel at night which made the quality of the stealth gameplay that much better. Throughout, the game players could accumulate points by evading enemies and performing silent kills on unsuspecting adversaries which felt a bit more advanced than your average ninja game. The art design and aesthetics for Mark of the Ninja was amazing and captured the vibe of what standard 2010’s indie video games looked and felt like before they began to increase in popularity throughout the decade. The popularity of the Mark of the Ninja eventually lead to the game being ported to the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch overtime. As a stand alone 2D action-stealth title Mark of the Ninja probably should have been more popular than it was. Despite, how good Mark of the Ninja was its very unlikely that there will ever be a sequel to the game.

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