Surf Ninjas

From Sega Retro


SurfNinjas title.png

Surf Ninjas
System(s): Sega Game Gear
Publisher: Sega
Licensor: New Line Cinema
Genre: Action[2]

Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Game Gear
$34.9934.99[4] 2510
Videogame Rating Council: GA
Sega Game Gear
Sega Game Gear

Surf Ninjas is a Sega Game Gear action game based on the film with the same name. The game itself plays a major role in the film's plot.


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The "Surf Ninjas"

Johnny and Adam are teenage surfers who live in Los Angeles with their father, Mac. Two weeks before Johnny's 16th birthday, ninjas attack the teenagers, but they are defeated by Zatch, a mysterious warrior with an eye patch. A follow-up attack results in Mac's kidnapping, though Zatch is able to protect the teenagers and their friend Iggy from the ninjas. Adam discovers that the video game on his Sega Game Gear matches the events happening around him and finds he can control some events through his Game Gear. Zatch reveals to Johnny and Adam that they are actually the sons of the king of Patu San, whose land and monarchy was overthrown by the evil Colonel Chi when the boys were young. It is their destiny to return to Patu San, overthrow Colonel Chi, and free the people.


Surf Ninjas, Pause Menu.png

Surf Ninjas, Store.png

Pause menu and treasure screen

Surf Ninjas, Game Gear.png

Adam's Game Gear

The game is an action platformer played as the teenage surfer and martial artist Johnny McQuinn. Johnny moves with Left and Right and crouches with Down. He rolls on the ground with Down-left or Down-right. He jumps with 2. He can do a double spin jump, which allows him to jump higher, by pressing 2 twice quickly while holding Left or Right. This maneuver expends some jumping power, which is indicated by an icon in the top-left of the screen (blue is full energy, white is halfway tired, and red is exhausted); his jumps become shorter as he becomes more tired. Double spin jumps are necessary for much of the platforming in the game.

Johnny attacks by punching with 1, which he can also do in mid-air. If he is close to an enemy, he throws the enemy with 1. He can perform a high kick with Up+1 or a sweep kick with Down+1. He can do a jumping kick with Up+1 while in mid-air. He can also do a projectile attack with Down+2, which are limited in quantity. He has four different projectile attacks (fireballs, shurikens, death stars, and katanas), which work similarly and share ammunition.

The player can bring up a status screen by pausing the game with  START . This screen shows Johnny's vitals: Health, Strength, Reflex, and Fight. Johnny's Health goes down as he takes damage from opponents but can be recovered by finding items. It is also indicated by an icon under the jumping power icon (blue is full health, white is halfway defeated, and red is close to being defeated). His Strength goes down as he fights, but it recovers as he rests. His Reflex and Fight are his speed and attack power, which can be upgraded by finding items.

The status screen also lets the player summon Zatch, a powerful ninja who temporarily replaces Johnny and does big damage to enemies, or get a hint from Johnny's brother Adam and his Game Gear. Zatch and Adam Hints are limited by items. The player can also switch Johnny's weapon and check the inventory of items (Zatch, Game Gears, Weapons, and Gold) from this screen. The player can choose Use Treasure to enter a store where Gold can be exchanged for items, including healing items.

Johnny loses a life if he runs out of health or falls down a bottomless pit. He is revived near where he was defeated as long as the player has lives remaining. If the player runs out of lives, the game ends but can be continued from the beginning of the stage. The player starts with one continue but can buy more with Gold.


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Surf Ninjas, Weapons.png
Surf Ninjas, Weapons.png
Death Stars
Surf Ninjas, Weapons.png


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Restores 12 units of Johnny's Health.
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Game Gear
Gives the player another Game Gear to use to receive a hint from Adam.
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Gives the player another opportunity to summon Zatch.
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Gives the player 20 Gold, which can be used to purchase items.
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Gives the player 5 projectile attacks.
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Gives the player an extra life.
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Increases Johnny's Reflex meter.
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Double Dragon
Increases Johnny's Fight meter.


These items can be purchased with Gold through the pause menu.

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Slow Time
Slows the game's timer to give the player more bonus points at the end of the stage. Costs 35 Gold.
Surf Ninjas, Store.png
Gives the player another opportunity to summon Zatch. Costs 20 Gold.
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Fully restores Johnny's Health. Costs 25 Gold.
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Extra Life
Gives the player an extra life. Costs 25 Gold.
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Gives the player 5 projectile attacks. Costs 10 Gold.
Surf Ninjas, Store.png
Gives the player another continue. Costs 50 Gold.
Surf Ninjas, Store.png
Game Gear
Gives the player another Game Gear to use to receive a hint from Adam. Costs 3 Gold.


Surf Ninjas, Stage 1.png

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Palace Restaurant

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Surf Ninjas, Stage 2 Boss.png

Docks of Venice, CA

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Island of Patu San

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Jungle of Patu San
This stage can be completed in two ways: by finding the hidden cave or by fighting the boss. The player must find the hidden cave and recover the Kwantzu sword in order to defeat the final boss.

The cave can be found by finding and standing on top of a stone structure. There is a Game Gear item there that allows the player to receive a hint on how to enter the cave. The player must stand on top of the stone structure and perform the following sequence of moves: crouch kick (Down+1), crouch (Down), stand, and kick (Up+1).

Surf Ninjas, Hidden Stage Boss.png

Surf Ninjas, Hidden Stage 1.png

Surf Ninjas, Hidden Stage 2.png

The Caves of the Ancients
The entrance to the cave is hidden in the previous stage. The player finds the Kwantzu sword at the end of the stage.

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Colonel Chi's Prison Camp

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Surf Ninjas, Stage 6 Boss.png

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Colonel Chi's Fortress



Sega Game Gear in the film Surf Ninjas

In an unusual example of cross-media marketing, the game is an important plot point in the film. One of the characters has a Sega Game Gear and uses it to control events in the movie. The movie shows gameplay footage of the game.

New Line Cinema and Sega of America established a financial relationship in which a video game would be developed for the film. In turn, Sega partially financed the film. Game designers began developing the video game when the film was only in its scripting phase, receiving creative input from director Neal Israel. Screenwriter Dan Gordon said that he wrote action sequences that would both suit the film and serve as a springboard for the video game.[5] The video game was released in August 1993, before the film's release.

In conjunction with the Game Gear title, a Sega Mega Drive version was also planned but never released.[6]


Whilst the PAL region version was planned for release in Europe[7], it only seems to have been released in Southeast Asia with the standard PAL region multi-language box and manual. This cartridge has the same ROM as the North American version.

Production credits

US manual
Surfninjas gg us manual.pdf

Magazine articles

Main article: Surf Ninjas/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Print advert in Sega Visions (US) #14: "August/September 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
also published in:

Physical scans

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
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Based on
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Sega Retro Average 
Publication Version Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) NTSC-U
Freak (IL)
Game Power (IT) NTSC
GamePro (US) NTSC-U
Hobby Consolas (ES)
Power Unlimited (NL)
VideoGames & Computer Entertainment (US) NTSC-U
Video Games (DE) PAL
Sega Game Gear
Based on
8 reviews

Surf Ninjas

Game Gear, US
SurfNinjas GG US Box Back.jpgNospine.pngSurfNinjas GG US Box Front.jpg
SurfNinjas GG US Cart.jpg
Surfninjas gg us manual.pdf
Game Gear, AS
SurfNinjas GG EU Box Back.jpgNospine.pngSurfNinjas GG EU Box Front.jpg
SurfNinjas GG EU Cart.jpg
Surfninjas gg eu manual.jpg
Game Gear, BR
SurfNinjas GG BR Box.jpg

Technical information

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Sega Game Gear
CRC32 284482a8
MD5 63f72877317fd3c17b0d867ea3169f56
SHA-1 23e493f7c19ffb17e67392289c5a72dc9d0d6d9e
512kB Cartridge (US)


Surf Ninjas

SurfNinjas title.png

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