The game is set in a dystopian future where Banglar, the President of the United States in 1993, has declared martial law nationwide. A group of anarchist scientists led by Mulk decide that it is time to revolt against the government. Knowing full well that fighting the military themselves would be suicidal, the scientists create two powerful androids to carry out the mission for them. The robots, code-named "Kunoichi" (red female) and "Ninja" (blue male), are sent by the scientists to end Banglar's tyranny once and for all.
The game is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up. It can be played alone or with another player. Players take control of Kunoichi or Ninja and fight wave after wave of Banglar forces. Both characters play identically. The ninjas move with and and jump with . They crouch with and can walk while crouching with and . Some stages have stairs, which are ascended with and and descended with and . The controls can be changed in the game options, which includes mappings that change jump to .
The ninjas attack with a short-range kunai slash with . Holding guards, which can deflect certain attacks. Jumping while guarding somersaults. The ninjas can also throw long-range shurikens with . The shurikens are limited in supply; some of the tougher enemies reward the player with 5 shurikens when defeated.
The ninjas have health meters that empty as they take damage from foes. As their health goes down, their skin and clothing tears away, revealing the robots underneath. The ninjas are destroyed after losing all of their health, but they can be revived if the player has continues remaining. Stages are also timed, and the ninjas are destroyed if time runs out. The ninjas start over with full health, 30 shurikens, and 300 seconds of time at the beginning of each stage and after reviving.
The game features a soundtrack composed by Taito's in-house band Zuntata. The game includes both the arcade version's soundtrack as well as a new arranged soundtrack. An exclusive Zuntata mode was also included, which is basically a movie scene that explains the game's backstory. Members of Zuntata served as actors.
The original arcade game was released in 1987 and used a three-screen setup (three 288x224 screens arranged in a horizontal line like with the Darius games). The game was ported to the PC Engine and Mega-CD as well as various personal computers: the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, and ZX Spectrum. The ports of the game use a letterboxed game window to emulate the wide view of the arcade version. The Mega-CD is considered the most faithful port.
The game was remade as The Ninja Warriors Again for the Super NES in 1994. It was released as simply The Ninja Warriors in Western regions. This version differs significantly from the arcade game and its ports.