By far one of the most anticipated games in the first quarter of 2004 had to be Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox. For a little over a year we have been seeing screenshots, hearing interviews, and just being exposed to this game and what we should expect. Now the game has finally been released, and can it live up to the hype, or will it just be another Ninja game? Read on to find out.
The Ninja Gaiden series was first brought forth to the public in 1988 with Ninja Gaiden for the NES. There were a few more titles in the series, all released for the NES, but then the series suddenly disappeared. So we have had quite a long break between games, and now finally Tecmo has brought back their killer Ninja game for the Xbox. For those of you who may be wondering if you need to know the storylines from previous Ninja Gaidens to understand this one, the answer is no. In Ninja Gaiden you play the role of Ryu Hyabusa, whose village had been attacked and the evil Dark Dragon Blade has been stolen. Ryu grabs the legendary Dragon Sword to take vengeance and to bring the evil sword back to safety.
If you still can’t tell from my description, the story doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to it. The story unfolds as you make your way through the game via gorgeous cut scenes. Taken on its own, this is quite disappointing, but with the greater emphasis and attention given to the gameplay, this turns out to be a blessing in disguise.
It has been a while since the consoles have seen the light of a good Ninja game; in fact I honestly can’t remember the last time I found one worthwhile. With a ninja game comes a few necessities that must be present in order to consider it a ninja title. First the game must include swords (so far so good for Ninja Gaiden), second the game must combine quick stealth like action along with combination attacks (check again for Ninja Gaiden), and third it has to be fun (three for three).
With what I just stated, you probably by now have a pretty good idea that I am going to be praising this game quite a bit throughout the review, and this is very true. Don’t be mistaken though this is not a pure action title but I would consider it more of an Action Adventure. Sure you will be hacking and slashing your way through enemies but you will also have many elements of an adventure title mixed in. Throughout your journey you will be given plenty of objectives in which you must retrieve items. One of the key ingredients to make Ninja Gaiden so great is the fact that you get to upgrade your character as the game moves along. This means a ton of new moves to take out your opponents with. Not only can you upgrade your character with new moves but you can also buy upgrades for your weapons, which also come in handy. These upgrades give you new ways to take out enemies as well as a more powerful weapon.
At the game’s core you will find a game that starts with a pretty simple idea, which is a ninja title. From this they incorporated some of the best gameplay I have witnessed in quite some time. Everything about the action of the game runs just so smoothly that you just wonder where this game has been. Ryu has plenty of different maneuvers he can use to take out enemies including, a combination of stealth attacks along with the normal one’s. You will find that Ryu is very mobile and running up and down walls becomes very useful in the game. Ryu moves so smoothly around each and every level that you will find yourself at time sitting back with that sense of awe.
If one thing is going to turn people away from Ninja Gaiden it won’t be the gameplay itself but rather the difficulty that goes along with this game. Looking at my experiences with Ninja Gaiden on the normal setting I can sit here and tell you I struggled through a lot of this game. It’s not that this game doesn’t show you what to do or where to go, it does, this is just one of those games that is downright difficult. There will be times in this game where you will have to repeat boss battles over and over again just because they are so challenging.
When you combine all of what I have said into one game, you can honestly say you have a top notch playing game. There is really nothing major I can complain about with Ninja Gaiden, because it is just that good. There has been such precise and accurate detail placed on this game that it would be near impossible to point out any faults.
With a game as solid as Ninja Gaiden is, you would only have to expect the best coming from the graphics. Well wouldn’t you know it, Ninja Gaiden comes through with flying colors, and comes up with some of the best graphics I have seen on the consoles to date.
Right when you start up Ninja Gaiden you will see what a great job Team Ninja did with Ninja Gaiden. From the first cut scene to the final one you will some of the best detail placed on character, especially Ryu. When looking at the environments all you can see is rich textures, and beautiful surroundings to pass through. I must say I was quite impressed with every single bit of Ninja Gaiden. What I think the most remarkable thing about Ninja Gaiden is that it truly does keep the same level of detail throughout the whole title.
Overall you are looking at one of the best graphical gems on the market today. It combines great detail, with a steady framerate, great camera, and you have one of the best looking games on the Xbox.
Well this is the one category that actually had the possibility of not getting a perfect score, but when it came down to it, I must say that I just had a ton of fun with Ninja Gaiden. Although there were times where I became frustrated with how difficult the game was, I must say that for the majority of the time, I just had a blast playing Ninja Gaiden. The Gameplay is just so smooth and so precise that it is hard not to have fun in the game.
With Ninja Gaiden you are looking at a title that has a great chance of making the top three best games for the Xbox this year. I don’t usually give games perfect scores unless they truly deserve it, and this is a game that really has the total package. Anyone looking for a solid action title, will surely be satisfied with Ninja Gaiden it truly has everything that makes a great game.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.