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Mark of the Ninja



Graphic side-scrolling action game with assassination kills.

What parents need to know

Educational value

While elements of Mark of the Ninja focus on strategy and puzzle solving, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

Positive messages

This game sensationalizes graphic, assassination-style violence with an emphasis on bloody, blade-based kills.

Positive role models

Though he's a ninja following an ancient, noble code, the game's hero -- who spends his time sneaking about and killing enemies while slowly going insane -- makes a poor behavioral model for children.    

Ease of play

The game teaches players how to control their ninja as the game progresses, providing situations that allow them to practice their abilities as they are introduced. That said, it's no walk in the park. Later levels will challenge even seasoned gamers. 


As a ninja, players have the option of sneaking past or killing most enemies. Though the game is cartoon-like in presentation, kills are depicted with gushing blood as player slit throats and impale chests with long blades. The camera often shifts to highlight these attacks, and foes grunt helplessly as they expire. Also expect action-based narrative sequences with grisly violence, such a man getting sliced in two. 

Not applicable

Strong words, including "f--k" and "s--t," appear in dialogue, but rarely. 

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mark of the Ninja is a side-scrolling action game intended for a more mature audience than its initial appearance might suggest. Though it features simple, single-plane movement and has a cartoon aesthetic, action is often intensely violent. Players control a ninja, and assassinate their enemies by cutting throats and stabbing chests. Plus, dialogue contains infrequent but very strong language, including the "f--k." The protagonist is portrayed as honorable, but his violent actions -- plus the narrative revelation that he's slowly going insane -- make him a poor model for real world behavior.

Parents say

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What's it about?

MARK OF THE NINJA stars an unnamed ninja on a quest for justice after his base has been ransacked. Stamped with a tattoo that grants him special powers (but is slowly driving him mad), the ninja is sent on a quest to learn more about the people who attacked headquarters. His real enemies aren't revealed until later in the game. Action is presented in side-scrolling cartoon form. Players have the option of stealthily avoiding combat or engaging enemies with stylishly deadly or non-lethal attacks, as they prefer. Hiding and taking shelter in dark areas and behind objects is key, as is exploring the game's environments looking for alternate ways forward and collectible items.

Is it any good?


This slickly made and satisfyingly stylish action game isn't just another run-to-the-right side-scroller. Players need to exercise thought, caution, and forward thinking as they take on cleverly designed environmental puzzles, all while discovering creative ways to subdue or bypass roaming enemies. The ninja's controls are tight and intuitive, making his movements and attacks highly gratifying. And while timing and precision are essential -- especially in later levels -- it's usually pretty easy to dash away from botched operations and try again. $15 games this deep, polished, and engrossing for older players don't come along every day. Highly recommended. Just keep in mind that, despite its cartoonish appearance, it's not intended for youngsters.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about ninjas. What are some of the rules that govern their lives? Are authentic ninjas, past or present, inherently good or bad people?

  • Families can also discuss violence in media. How do you determine what's right for your kids, and when they are ready for more mature games, books, movies?

Game details

Platforms:Windows, Xbox 360
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:October 16, 2012
ESRB rating:M for Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence

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Kid, 9 years old March 17, 2013

just blood

not bad at all i have not seen all of what it is bad for but all I can tell u is that it is bloody this should not be M and it is amazing my brother an i play it and we love it parents u should not worry.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written byAlreadyTaken June 4, 2013

Bloody but Brilliant

Mark of the Ninja is the pinnacle of the stealth genre- a compelling, entertaining game that holds surprising depth for its 2d landscape. That being said, this game isn't lacking in blood, and well-executed stealth kills will not only spurt blood but zoom in for the action. However, outside of violence there is little to worry about, and the simplistic 2d graphics mean that although blood may be profuse, nothing actually gets that gory. Overall, if your kid can handle the violence, then this is a great game.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old February 1, 2015

the skull shocker

I like this game very much I think that it is one of the best games I have ever played and pretty mach it is easy to play,the players movements are easy, and the skills and take downs are not very hard to learn, but there is one problem is that on my brothers user on our PS3 the game dose not save an automatic save or a manual save,and I am worried that the problem will be in my user too,so please fix it, that is all I have to say in this review,and the mark of the ninja ROCKS, thank you for your attention.
What other families should know
Easy to play/use