8.5 / 10 Banzai!s
Widely known as one of the hardest games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Ninja Gaiden gained notoriety with its brutal respawns and platforming and combat that required lightning quick reflexes. It was also known for it’s amazing music and for being (one of) the first game (s) with cut scenes. The sequels Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos and Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom were no different, and their difficulty is why 12 minute speed runs of the games are so incredible.
From 1993, the series had been dormant until the 3D revival Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox in 2004. This was remade into Ninja Gaiden Black, and then again into Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3. Ninja Gaiden II, the sequel on the Xbox 360, was remade into Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 on the PS3 (and most recently NGS2 Plus on the PS Vita), and incorporated all of the DLC into the game, added a few extra levels and characters, and reworked the trophy list.
And it’s hard as balls.
The mantra of the game has not changed since the original NES game. You get better or you die.
And you will die a lot playing this game.
You can start on either Acolyte (easy) or Warrior (normal) difficulty, and until you get used to the game’s combat system either one will prove a worthy challenge. Far more than just a hack and slash, you will want to block, counterattack and evade attacks on your way to becoming a master ninja. If you perform a certain combo, you can cut a limb off an enemy, then by hitting the strong attack button (triangle) you can perform an Obliteration Technique. Hold the strong attack and you can charge up to perform an Ultimate Technique, a massive series of attacks which will usually defeat a few enemies (at least on lower difficulties.)
What makes combat even more interesting are the eight additional weapons you can pick up along your way to stopping the Black Ninja Clan from resurrecting the Archfiend with the Demon Statue. (If you have played the original Ninja Gaiden, it’s basically the same story, only much more developed and with CG.)
You gain the Lunar Staff, Kusari-gama (a traditional ninja weapon that looks like a sickle attached to a chain), Dual Katanas, and Enma’s Fang (a massive Final Fantasy type of sword), among other weapons, as well as using shuriken, a bow, or a handheld cannon for projectiles.
You also have access to four ninja spells or “ninpo.” The Art of the Flame Phoenix is your basic fire spell, the wind spell is great for cutting off limbs and opening up Obliterations, and there is a dark magic spell which is useful against fire-based enemies. There is a fourth ninpo that conjures protective flames, but I found it to be quite ineffective.
Once you beat Acolyte or Warrior difficulty you gain access to Mentor (hard) difficulty. This is what makes this one of the most difficult games of Generation 7 games.
Master Ninjas (with machine guns) attack you from the beginning of the game, enemies deal three times the damage as Warrior difficulty, archers become Rocket Ninjas, and the enemies all become very grabby with devastating suicide attacks. They also start to evade ninpo attacks, the prices for healing items goes up, and they are less effective as well.
Get better or die.
And to top that off, next is Master Difficulty. If you can beat that, you have a chance to get the platinum, but this is one game where you should play up to where you are comfortable once you experience the story, and then only continue if you are masochistic, an elite gamer, or you really love the game.
The key is blocking, counterattacking, evading, and chaining together Ultimate Techniques. When you kill an enemy, you can absorb the essence, charging the next UT more quickly. Perform several of these in a row to clear and area and you might have a chance of surviving until the next wave of enemies.
There are nine weapon trophies, each for getting 1000 kills with each weapon. This may seem like a lot, but if you manage one playthrough for each difficulty, and again complete each chapter in Chapter Challenge mode, you will have completed the game eight times with over 1000 kills each time.
Chapter Challenge mode pits you against the regular enemies, and gives you points, or “karma,” for beating a level in a quick time or with less ninpo used. The time and ninpo are basically extra points, as you seem to be able to get Master Ninja rank on a level if you manage to kill all the enemies on that level. The best part about Chapter Challenge is that you have access to all the unlocked weapons and ninpo at their maximum level and you can tear through the early chapters (on easier difficulties) or even out the challenge (on the harder ones.)
The final mode is Team Missions, and if you thought you had to be a Ninja Gaiden master to beat Master Ninja difficulty, well, there’s a reason 0.8% of people have this platinum.
You team up with an online partner (or AI if you prefer) to complete a series of survival missions. You start of with basic waves of ninjas, demons, or werewolves, then progress through ever more difficult missions. After the initial waves, you may fight a boss, or on the most difficult missions you may face all the bosses in a row, with up to three fighting you at the same time!
Needless to say the AI is not very well equipped to deal with these types of threats. The only thing is, as the game ages, fewer people are playing online, and certain players will refuse to play with you unless you have completed the main story on Master Ninja difficulty.
The best thing about these missions is that they are standard on disc for Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, whereas for the 360’s Ninja Gaiden II the missions are DLC.
Also different from the 360 version are the Momiji, Rachel, and Ayane missions. They are fun missions, and offer more insight into the story, but Momiji and Ayane are not nearly as powerful as Ryu, and you will find clearing their chapters more difficult. They also have their own 1000 kill trophies, and extend the story to 17 chapters, which can get to be a little long after multiple playthroughs.
At the end of the day, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 lives up to its reputation. If you like a challenge or are a massive fan of the series, you should definitely play this game. If you are a completionist, you might have a problem with Master Ninja and the missions.
The graphics for this game are excellent. There is plenty of blood and limbs flying around, and rarely if ever does the frame rate drop because of all the excess. There are also cut scenes that blend flawlessly into gameplay (and vice versa) at times. You really feel like you’re in the heat of the action, so the graphics and the controls make a great combination.
It’s a fun hack and slash that requires skills and finesse. Button mashing will get you killed, and quickly. And just like the original, it’s not impossibly difficult.
Replay Value: 7 (Repetitive after a while, and difficulty may be an issue for some people.)
Trophy Difficulty: 10
written by Benjamin Adkins