| Blood, Gore and Violence
| The Good
Top notch visuals
Insanely deep combat system
Mission mode and arcade Ninja Gaiden unlockable
Revised and balanced game content makes the game
| The Bad
Camera can still be placed in odd areas from
time to time
How many developers make the effort to release an enhanced
version of a game that was considered one of the best of it's
genre in the past year? Not many (Kojima's studio comes to
mind, but that's about it).
So, when Team Ninja stated they were going to re-release Ninja
Gaiden complete with the two downloadable Hurricane Packs
and some revisions to the game, including an easy mode for
those who couldn't survive what the original title threw at
them, many were both surprised and pleased.
Ninja Gaiden begins with the story of the Hayabusa
clan, who are entrusted with the care of two very powerful
swords, the Dark Dragon Blade and the Dragon Sword. With Dragon
Sword in hand, Ninja Ryu Hayabusa visits his master, Murai.
During their conversation, they are interrupted by Ayane,
who tells them that Ryu's home village is burning. He returns
to the village to find it infested with enemies. The powerful
Dark Dragon Blade is stolen, leading Ryu into conflict in
many locations and with enemies of all types.
The core of Ninja Gaiden Black is the extremely deep
and rewarding combat system. Ryu gains access to a number
of weapons, including the Dragon Sword, nunchaku, shuriken
and bow and arrow. Each of the melee weapons comes with a
healthy list of combination between the standard attacks (X
Button) and strong attacks (Y Button). After some effort,
you'll learn how to break out brutal strings of combinations,
slaughtering all in your path. But, to get to that point,
you'll have to learn how to block (Left trigger) effectively,
especially learning how to dodge roll away from attacks. You
can jump, run up walls and even cast Ninpo (ninja magic).
All of these skills are essential in just surviving even the
easiest of enemies.
As you progress through the game, you'll find more than your
fair share of items, most of which will be useful in staying
alive or building Ryu's strength. On occasion, you'll be required
to pick up an item to move along. Team Ninja knows best not
to slow down the game by forcing players to waste time item
fetching just to move along. The action is paced excellently
so that you're rarely given time to breath between fights.
Along with the standard difficulty are unlockable harder
difficulties, including hard, super hard and "OMIGOD, someone
pull this game case out of my ass!" hard (I am, of course,
paraphrasing the names). Of note for those who may have not
played the original release is the Ninja Dog difficulty, which
makes the game a bit easier for new players. All you have
to do is die three times before beating the first boss and
the Ninja Dog difficulty is offered to you. What this difficulty
offers you is armbands that you can equip to make you more
powerful. This doesn't making the enemies any weaker or dumber,
but offers you the chance to make fights go by faster with
stronger hits. You'll still need to learn how to use the combat
system to your benefit to make it through the game.
For those who played the original, you'll find more than
a few revisions to the game, including content from the Hurricane
Packs that were only available via Xbox Live download. Also,
there seems to be some effort onto the team to mix some minor
things up and even balance the game even further (the Intercept
skill seems to be absent). Enemies and bosses from the packs
are available to fight in the game. You can also unlock a
deep mission mode and even the original arcade version of
One of the more noticeable additions to the game is the option
to switch from the original in-game camera, which follows
you around but can be brought behind you with the use of Right
trigger, to a more traditional camera control with the right
thumbstick down. To switch between the two, click the right
thumbstick down. While the second camera choice was offered
to appease fans who thought the camera spent too much time
in the wrong spot, I would have to say that neither camera
scheme are perfect. Both tends to leads to spots where you
just can't see everything, but neither are so bad that it
proves to be more than an annoyance from time to time.
Visually, Ninja Gaiden Black is gorgeous. The original
game featured some of the nicest visuals available this generation
and Black only refines it to the point where I can't
imagine anything looking better before the Xbox 360 lands.
While there isn't a lot of room for improvement from the original,
you can notice minor touches here and there that polish this
gem all too well. Character models are finely detailed and
exhibit smooth animation. Locations are large and filled with
ridiculous levels of real world details. If you want to, you
can just stop and look around at how well everything looks.
Add that a ton of visual effects that make the whole game
glow. It almost makes the intense action pale in comparison.
The audio portion of Black serves as a wonderful augment
to the visuals. Sound effects are meticulously intricate,
making the action feel all the more real. Weapons have their
specific set of sound effects and Ryu's movements have a real
world sound to them. The soundtrack isn't featuring anything
catchy, but instead relies on setting a tone that works for
the game world. Voice acting is nothing outstanding, but it
works well with the few story sequences scattered through
the game. I'm not saying it's bad, or even mediocre, but that
there's really so little to the story that you never really
get an established mood from the characters. But, I'm not
saying that's a bad thing.
Ninja Gaiden Black is everything the original was
but better. In fact, Ninja Gaiden Black proves to be
one of the best action titles of this generation. If you played
the original and downloaded the Hurricane Packs, there isn't
much here that will make the purchase worth it to you. For
those who don't have Xbox Live, you might consider this for
the extra content. And for those who found the original game
too hard, the new Ninja Dog difficulty a good way to ease
into the game.