Review by Gizamaluke7377

"Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO!"

Ninja Gaiden

''Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO!
No, this isn’t Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the movie (if you’ve seen it, you’ll recognize that song,) but it is an old school game being revitalized. That game is Ninja Gaiden. It has been 13 years since Tecmo released Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom on the NES, and fans have desperately wanted a new Ninja Gaiden to be made. Tecmo has answered their prayers. Ninja Gaiden has come back, in 3D, for the Microsoft Xbox. This time it is being directed by Tomonobu Itagaki, the man behind the Dead or Alive series. Fans have been hyping Ninja Gaiden to Hell and back. Will it disappoint? Find out in my review.

You control ninja in-training, Ryu Hayabusa (the very same Ryu from Dead or Alive.) After returning home, he discovers his clan and childhood friend slaughtered by the wretched fiend Doku and his horde of minions. Ryu tries to stop the demon shogun, but to no avail. Full of burning rage, the now lone ninja goes on his quest... for revenge. This time revenge is a dish best served hot.

If you've played the Ps2 hit-game, Devil May Cry, you may be reminded of it while playing Ninja Gaiden. It's quite apparent that Tecmo used many elements found in Devil May Cry in Ninja Gaiden. However, it is understandable since Devil May Cry was considered the King of Action Games. Don't go thinking Ninja Gaiden is just a rip-off of Devil May Cry. Even with the similarities, Ninja Gaiden is a completely different experience.

Being an action game, Ninja Gaiden revolves heavily on combat. There are so many combos in Ninja Gaiden, that it even rivals the amount of combos in fighting games. Each of the 9 weapons you obtain feature different combos. By using different combinations of X and Y, you can perform many combos. All in all, there are probably more then 300 combos in Ninja Gaiden. The weapons greatly variety in their combat style. They range from katanas, nunchaku, war hammers, and even Buster Sword (Final Fantasy 7) sized swords. There are more weapons available then those I mentioned, but I don't want to give to much away. When you get weapons, you can get the blacksmith (Murasuma) to upgrade your weapons, making them stronger, and allow you to use more combos. The way you gain weapons is to find them through out the 16 chapters. However, there is one weapon you must buy. That weapon is the wooden sword, the weakest weapon in the game. Why would you want to buy such a pathetic weapon? Upgrade it to the max and be amazed. Ryu is not only skilled at combat, but he is very athletic. He can swing off of branches, run on water, and even run on walls (ala The Prince from Prince of Persia: The Sand of Time.) It’s very incredible how much this Ninja can do.

Unlike other games, almost no enemy in Ninja Gaiden is easy. It takes more then mashing buttons to beat this game. From the samurai minions of Doku, to the red dragon fiends, and to the dreaded Black Spider Ninjas, they all prove a challenge. You'll find yourself being killed by even the ''easiest'' of enemies, although even in death, this game is a blast. Itagaki wasn't lying when he said ''The enemies aren't here for you to kill, they're here to kill you.'' The boss battles are equally epic. In most action games the bosses have a certain pattern of what attacks they do, but not in Ninja Gaiden. Each boss has a wide variety of attacks, and they will use whatever techniques the situation will call for. To put it simply, this game is difficult (though not as hard as the first three Ninja Gaiden’s.) Sometimes the game pulls a quick one on you, and pits you against a very hard boss, or three (3) bosses in a row, far away from the last save point. I guess instead of making a difficult boss at fair odds, Tecmo decided to put you at big disadvantage to make it harder. It was a cheap move on Tecmo’s part, but it does stay true to the old Ninja Gaiden’s cheap difficulty. I guarantee that this game will not cut you any slack.

The environments in Ninja Gaiden are extremely detailed. While some chapters take place in the same area as others, you’ll find that most of the levels in Ninja Gaiden are all completely different and very varied. They range from fortresses, to aircraft, to towns, to sewers, and even lava caves. The amount of variety is amazing.

There is, however, one part of Ninja Gaiden that bothered me. The camera. While it’s probably one of the greatest cameras seen in a action game, it could have used some more tune-ups. The main camera problems occur in indoor areas. Many times you see the camera get into a position where you can’t tell what is going on. It’s an annoying problem that could have been easily fixed. You’d think after all these games with bad cameras, they would eventually fix it.

One of the main draws of Ninja Gaiden are it’s jaw-dropping graphics. If you’ve played a lot of Team Ninja games, then you’d know that Ikagaki strives for making the best looking graphics (and biggest boobies <_< >_>,) over all other games. Ninja Gaiden is no exception. The character models are extremely very crafted and realistic. Even the scenery is very well made. It’s obvious a lot of time was put in making this game look as good as it could, while maintaining a steady 60 frames per second. On top of all that, the textures look amazing. However, like most games, when viewing a object up-close, you see the textures get very blurry. You’d think by now developers could fix that problem. Even with all the blood and enemies on the screen, I failed to notice any slowdown. Kudos to Team Ninja.

Music and Sound
Ninja Gaiden’s soundtrack is composed mainly of rock, orchestrated music, and some techno. Since the old Ninja’s Gaiden’s music was composed of techno music, it’s apparent why Tecmo went with the music choices they did. They also did a good job with the sound effects, however some of the voice’s sound like they are speaking through a pipe, but it’s not that common, luckily. Tecmo was even nice enough you include an option for Japanese voices with English subtitles.

Xbox Live
This game even has Xbox Live features. No, it's not just another lame Downloadable Content or Scoreboard option, but something never done before. Ninja Gaiden has a feature called the Master Ninja Tournament. While the details a bit unclear at the moment, it's been confirmed that sometime in May there will be downloadable trial missions. When downloaded, you must play through it and when you finish, your score will get uploaded. The top ten (10) scores will receive special prizes (what the prizes are haven't be told.) Not only that, but your name will be placed up in the Ninja Gaiden Hall of Fame or all others to see. So, you don't only gain special treats, but you get yourself well known by all as one of the top Ninja Gaiden players. It's a great new innovative feature that hasn't been seen before.

Final Thoughts
While this game has a few problems that could have been worked out, it is quite possibly the greatest action game ever. If you don't really play a lot of video games, aren't very skilled at them, or just want a relaxing game to play, you may want to avoid Ninja Gaiden. It's harsh learning curve is clearly meant for hardcore gamers. Still, even if you aren't all that skilled at action games, you'll at least want to give this game a rent to experience it. Team Ninja promised a hard, yet fun action game, and they delivered. Believe the hype: Ninja Gaiden is amazing.

''Unleash your Inner Ninja''

Final Score: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/15/04, Updated 05/02/04

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