In 1994 TECMO was working on a sequel to their 1988 arcade smash Ninja Gaiden.
Not to be confused with the NES home version series of the same name, the original
arcade version of Ninja Gaiden was a side scrolling beat 'em up in the same style
as Double Dragon. Tecmo designed and programmed this sequel for the NEOGEO hardware.
At the time, this was a popular and succesfull way for game developers to make a
game and sell thousands of copies on cartridges. It was much more cost efficient
than producing an entire jamma board. Several other NEOGEO licencees were doing
this. Data East, Taito, Psykyo, and Video System are some examples.
Not much is known about this game and it's very brief location test. Only 2
articles have ever been found about the game. One of the articles however is
quite detailed and provides us with the title logo, some character artwork,
and 4 screenshots. The title logo was utilizing a roman numeral II for its'
design. The description reveals that just like Capcom's Final Fight, the
player could select from 3 characters; Ryu, Rash, and Ran. Ryu was the default
well rounded and balanced fighter (Cody), Rash was a football player and the
power character (Haggar), and Ran was a school girl with quick speed and
technique (Guy). Looking closely at the screenshots, it is evident that the
game was still in an early and incomplete beta stage as some of the characters
are still in their initial solid color hues and have yet to be detailed with
proper shading effects.
It's hard to believe that such a great property such as this performed poorly
in testing and wasn't completed. However, the side scrolling beat 'em up genre was
slowly dying and had taken a back seat to the one on one fighter genre, so from that
perspective, original or not, the game was likely doomed to failure. It was reported
to have a very high difficulty curve consisting of overly agressive enemies which
frustrated the players and caused earnings to drop.
The most promising lead that we ever had on possibily finding this lost gem,
came about in September of 2013. Allegedly, someone met with a former Tecmo employee
who stated that the game was not lost, but rather it was still backed up. However,
they said that the files were only accesible by PC98's. It is also believed that
these files are not just the roms, but rather the original source code for the game
which would require quite a bit of painstaking work to recompile.
-- July 1994 -- Tecmo/SNK place Ninja Gaiden II on a location test.
-- (?) 1994 -- This article is published on NEO NINJA II in (?) magazine.
-- May 1995 -- This article is published on NEO NINJA II in Game Urara magazine.
-- September 2013 -- A former TECMO employee REVEALS that a back up of the game exists.