The Year: 1988. The Place: Any video game arcade, family fun center with arcade, or Chuck E. Cheese. The Low Down: Ninja Gaiden, the fun and challenging two player action video game.
For more then 15 years, Ninja Gaiden has been one of the best gaming franchises in videogame history. When Ninja Gaiden made its console debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), about one year after it was released in the arcade, it became an immediate hit and attracted the attention of a lot of gamers. Yet, for many years now, no one videogame has been made titled Ninja Gaiden and starred the quick and powerful ninja, Ryu Hayabusa. However, a few years back, Tecmo introduced Ryu Hayabusa as one of their unique fighting characters in the Dead or Alive series.
Recently, Tecmo decided to take on the challenge and responsibility of resurrecting the Ninja Gaiden series for Xbox. Up until its release in March 2004, Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) was one of the most talked about videogames, because everyone was curious on how well of a job Tecmo did on the creation of Ninja Gaiden (Xbox). We am here to set the record straight: Ninja Gaiden is one of the best action videogames of this generation.
Gameplay - Ninja Gaiden combines great gameplay using state-of-the-art technology to bring some of the most beautiful fighting moves you will ever see to life, along with state of the art 3D graphics, and a soundtrack and sound effect score that will literally blow you away. However, with the name of the franchise at stake, and hit videogames like Prince of Persia and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell to compete with, Tecmo had a lot of work to get done before they could release what would soon be one of the greatest videogames of our time.
Ninjas are known for their speed, strength, and ability to get around without being noticed. In Ninja Gaiden, you will play as Ryu Hayabusa, who is quite fast, quite strong, but doesn’t even bother to hide himself from his enemies. Tecmo decided that they’d rather create a fast paced action videogame with a lot of action and fighting, instead of a traditional stealth game where action and fighting is considered a last resort. Tecmo deserves tremendous applause for their creation and implementation of Ninja Gaiden’s gameplay. Ninja Gaiden will take you to a world where it is okay to show your face to your enemy as long as you immediately kill him afterwards. However, even with the fighting abilities Ryu Hayabusa has, getting through Ninja Gaiden is no walk in the park.
Not too many videogames can say their fighting system is perfect. Ninja Gaiden has earned the right to say this, because Ninja Gaiden literally has no problems with its gameplay. You will find out right away how easy it is to use the combat system featured in Ninja Gaiden, but also how hard it is to master. Tecmo took the time to perfect every sword slash and wall run, making the work they put into Ninja Gaiden considered priceless by the gaming world (so technically, you’re saving a lot of money by buying Ninja Gaiden for $49.99).
The only problem you may face is the camera. It has been debated in many other publications, and yes, the camera does cause some problems from time to time. Nothing that breaks the game, mind you - not even close - but irritating nevertheless. The camera can be snapped behind you, but cannot be swung around using the right analog stick. This seemingly minor factor can pull you right out of Ninja Gaiden's frenetic battles.
Another important feature about Ninja Gaiden that I need to mention is that as you move along throughout the game, you collect items. Some items are needed to open doors, restore your health bar, increase your speed or strength, or improve your weapons. As you play through the 16 chapters in Ninja Gaiden, you will notice that even though you are getting better at the videogame, the gameplay remains tough. This is due to the fact that Tecmo wanted to constantly challenge videogamers by never giving them a break from the tough yet fun-to-demolish enemy opposition. So the items you will collect - more powerful weapons, for example - will definitely be needed in order to make it through the game. Tecmo also increased your ability to control Ryu Hayabusa, by creating Ninpo. Ninpo, also known as magic, allows you to perform special combat moves to simply embarrass your opposition. These moves come in handy when you’re cornered by 20 white ninjas. The secret of magic is no longer something to keep quiet about; tell your friends, Ninja Gaiden has great action and powerful moves thanks to the help of magic.
As mentioned, Tecmo created a never ending level of challenge when it comes to fighting off enemy ninjas. This concept was created to allow the gamer to truly remain surprised by what Ninja Gaiden had to offer. And with a challenge level so remarkably impressive, Ninja Gaiden will be no walk in the park; exactly what most gamers look for in a game. On top of the challenge, you will go through more then 20 hours of gameplay in Ninja Gaiden, which only proves how much of a value the game really is. It is one thing to create a videogame worth playing and constantly challenging, but also a videogame that has lots to offer.
Artificial has always been important and Ninja Gaiden shines in this department. Enemies will immediately spot you and do their best to annihilate you, which means you rarely get a chance to catch your breath, because most levels are covered with swarms of enemies. This also means that you will encounter many gang fights (similar to any Jackie Chan movie) and you will need to fight off a handful of enemies at the same time. This of course compliments the challenge and value factor. Some enemies are weaker and some enemies are stronger, but you will not find it at all easy to handle a group of enemies even if they are the weakest ones as they will constantly attack you in rhythm. As a result, your only chance of not being defeated is to properly time your moves and be aware of what is going on.
Combos, combos, combos. An important part of the combat system in Ninja Gaiden is that you can perform a various amount of fighting combos. These are sometimes needed to defeat individual enemies, but more needed when fighting groups of enemy ninjas. And when you upgrade your weapon, will notice that you have the ability to perform more powerful combos that will leave your eyes and mouth wide open. But despite the challenge you will have to overcome and the fun you will have doing it while fighting enemies, nothing quite compares to the bosses you will have to face. The bosses in Ninja Gaiden possess powerful weapons and fighting styles, which will leave you fighting them over and over again before you finally defeat them. Bosses range from traditional ninjas and Asian warriors, to monstrous beasts you use to hear about in classic fairy tales.
Wait, there’s more! Besides offering a spectacular combat system that delivers everything, and providing the most challenging gameplay system you will ever come across, Ninja Gaiden has still more to offer. Tecmo took the time to re-create classic Ninja Gaiden videogames playable on Ninja Gaiden via your Xbox. So with the purchase of Ninja Gaiden, you will get the opportunity to experience the entire Ninja Gaiden franchise and truly see how great the classic Ninja Gaiden videogames are. Tecmo also provides an Xbox Live feature which has downloadable content and allows you to test out your skills of Ninja Gaiden gameplay by comparing yourself to other gamers via online tournaments. And for all of you entertainment buffs out there, Ninja Gaiden provides support for 5.1 Surround Sound and 480p widescreen.
Graphics - Simply gorgeous. Whoever said men don’t cry obviously hasn’t played Ninja Gaiden and admired the true beauty of it, Because if they did, they would surely shed a tear. The incredibly detailed characters match the magnificient 3D world in Ninja Gaiden that Tecmo created. Very few videogames have reached a level of graphical genius. But what else would you expect from Tecmo? They are known for videogames that play as well as they look and looks as well as they play. Like Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden delivers great graphics, with bump mapping and shadow rendering.
The little details in Ninja Gaiden are what make it so special. And on top of the gameplay graphics, the cinematics are of high quality too. So expect a lot from Ninja Gaiden on all levels as it's a visual treat as well as a gaming masterpiece.
Sound - From up-beat fight music to techno music to soft Asian style music, every moment in Ninja Gaiden is surrounded by some type of “appropriate” score. I don’t regularly listen to the type of music showcased in Ninja Gaiden, yet for some reason, with the combination of great gameplay and graphics, I’ve taken an appreciation for the music. And I think the same goes for anyone, regardless of what type of music you listen to. You will find an interest for the music in Ninja Gaiden. And on top of the musical score, the sound effects in Ninja Gaiden handle the job well. Every type of action effect is complimented by a sound effect, and the game with all its combinations of gameplay put together works out really well.
Bottom Line - Ninja Gaiden does everything right from A to Z. The loading times are quite short and infrequent. The gameplay is state of the art and one of a kind, and sets the bar for many videogames to be made in the future. The graphics and sound suit the game and compliment it in every way. Ninja Gaiden also has a lot more to offer than its standard story mode: it has 3 original Ninja Gaiden videogames, it has Xbox Live features, and a few other surprises that I will let you find out about on your own. On a rare negative note, the camera control has been considered by me and other people, difficult to control. Luckily, Tecmo is using Ninja Gaiden’s Xbox Live features to make even more updates and patches available. Ninja Gaiden is simply a great game, a definite candidate for “Game of the Year”.