‘Lost’ Namco Title That Inspired The First Live-Action Video Game

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Screenshot 2021 12 09 At 5.04.20 PmImage: Namco

Next week’s Arcade Archives release is Mirai Ninja, a Japan-only Namco title from 1988 which was never ported to any home system, and holds a special place in video game history.

Released in the same year as Keita Amemiya’s 1988 movie Mirai Ninja: Keigumo Kinin Gaiden (known as Cyber Ninja in the United States, Warlord in Canada and Robo Ninja in the UK), Mirai Ninja was powered by the Namco System 2 coin-op board and looks a lot like other ninja titles from the period, like Shinobi and Ninja Spirit. Amemiya, it should be noted, has since worked on video games like the Onimusha series and Shin Megami Tensei IV.

Interestingly, the game isn’t actually based on the film, as is so often the case. It’s actually the other way around! Namco was actively involved with Mirai Ninja’s production, rather than using it under licence. It was even involved with the movie’s distribution, making this one of the first examples of a live-action video game movie – even pre-dating the likes of Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.

You can check out the North American trailer – intended to promote the VHS release to rental stores – below, and there’s some gameplay of the arcade release below that.

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