A True Ninja
Back in December, a streamer who goes by the name Slackanater on YouTube and Twitch, completed the first-ever 100% damageless of the original Ninja Gaiden on NES. You might have seen other similar runs in the past, but there’s one particular thing that makes this the first totally damageless run in history, and quite the achievement. The full video can be seen below.
The final boss of Ninja Gaiden has two phases, with the second one putting you up against a massive demon. The problem here is that after the boss takes enough hits the head drops and rolls into Ryu, and it’s impossible to dodge or avoid. As Slackanater explains the only way to do a true no damage run of the game is to destroy the head before it has the chance to hit you. The head, like the demon’s tail and heart, takes exactly sixteen hits to kill. After 11 hits the demon’s head detaches and rolls to the ground.
This is where the magic comes in. Normally Ryu would need to go through the entire swing animation in order to swing again, but by pressing down and B at the same time players can cancel the animation, thus swinging and allowing for more attacks ruing a single jump. In order to do this Slackanater has to employ some serious button mashing skills by turning the controller sideways, allowing him to get seven hits in during the few seconds between when the head detaches and when it hits the ground.
This is what makes it all the more impressive when he gets to the end of his run, and manages to take the demon’s head out on the very first try. By his reaction, Slackanator clearly did not expect to clear the run, or ever do it for that matter. It’s fascinating that it’s taken this long for anyone to get a true no-hit run, without any kind of boost or tool-assist. That, in part, is what makes this world record such an achievement.
Ninja Gaiden originally released in 1988 on the NES in Japan, making its way to the West one year later. It’s been a fan-favorite at speedrun events, like Awesome Games Done Quick, for years. It’s the perfect candidate due to the high level of difficulty and precision, as well as a few elements of RNG that require speedrunners to adapt on the fly. The current world record for Ninja Gaiden’s speedrun is 11min38sec by Arcus, set in 2018. Slackanater’s run clocks in at 15min36sec, which is still impressive for a no-damage run that naturally takes longer than a pure speedrun.
Slackanator has also done no-damage runs on two other games, Kung Fu and Jaws, both for the NES. According to his Twitch page, he was inspired to start practicing speedruns after watching AGDQ, and he has a particular focus on classic NES titles. Slackanator also has a second YouTube channel he’s been running since 2014. Called Between the Blazes, the hiking-focused channel is fairly successful and runs the gamut from essential tips and items, to stories and tales from other hikers.
Slackanator’s Ninja Gaiden run is certainly an achievement for the speedrunning community, and it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes another player to do the same.