I don't know if it's the japanese way of thinking or game development but Ninja Gaiden for the NES was a bitch. Birds must be a ninjas worst enemy. Ninja Gaiden in the arcade was a fucking joke. Who would have thought it took a ninja 20 seconds to do a back flip only to end up facing the wrong direction and get sucker punched in the gut while stuck in animation that ultimately leads to the insanely awesome game over screen. The countdown starts and if you were anything like me when I was young, you were probably playing this game in someones living room the size of a hot pocket in Juarez wondering how anyone in that particular neighborhood could afford to have arcade cabinets in their beat up old rundown hut which had windows for doors and doors for protection from the flooding. Shit sorry, so the countdown starts, I'm out of pesos, and Ryu gets chainsawed in half. Nice. After tons of delays Ninja Gaiden was finally released on Microsoft's OG Xbox on March 2nd of 2004 and holy fuck was this version amazing. The graphics and gameplay can still hold it's own and that says plenty. The camera however sometimes added to the difficulty, which at times felt undeniably cheap, and by far was the biggest problem I had with the game. 4 years, 2 reissues (NG Black for Xbox and NG Sigma for PS3), 3 broken controllers, and my girlfriend still in the wings, Tecmo's Team Ninja have finally released Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360. And so the story goes....yeah the camera is still shit.
You don't play Ninja Gaiden for the story. Seriously, if you did, you may have never out grown playing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers outside of the Abraham Chavez Theater on a school field trip while waiting to go inside and watch some god awful plays that I didn't learn shit from. See that, junior high didn't teach me shit. Oh wait yeah, how old was I. Anyway, the story is so horrid, it makes Manos Hands of Fate look like Iron Man. Although if they were to release a mission mode later on as DLC where the missions were to take on Torgo and all his scantily clad ladies, I'd be down. The story of the orginal Xbox game wasn't any better, but at least the only things that spoke were human. It's like when Freddy Krueger suddenly became a stand up comic dishing out nonsensical one liners in the later Elm Street Movies. You don't scare me any more bro, it's over. So yeah if you like Power Rangers you'll love the story, if you don't, a simple press of the start button will skip the cutscenes and give you a chance to spit out your own kickass one liners. "Do you like camping, cuz this bo staff upside yo face is gonna be intense"
This is where the game shines...my balls. Seeing as it's the sequel to a really good game it's hard to imagine what they could've done better. Although it's blatantly obvious what they needed to FIX. The SHIT-ASS-OH-I-GOT-A-FIREY-EXPLOSIVE-ARROW-IN-MY-ASS-CUZ-I-CANT-FUCKING-SEE-THESE-OFFSCREEN-CORKY-ASS-MOTHERFUCKERS camera. I don't mind the coming around the corner getting ambushed thing thats actually kinda cool. Fuck, I bet ninjas deal with that shit all the time. It's only when you're bar room brawiling and the camera suddenly decides to focus on Doogie Howser M Dick over in the corner laughing his ass off doin jumpkicks, while you're taking on a dissappearing Grimus and his three fucking fry guy pals. What the fuck is Grimus anyway? The jelly? A quick pull on the right trigger centers the camera behind you, but baby sitting cameras should be left to cute high school girls with nice full B cups wearing nothing but a swimsuit. Ninjas are meant to be taking care of shit that happens when the weak fail. Usings weapons like the Lunar Staff to smash the teeth on Wolfo Mcgruffs mug, to providing seats to each and everyone of these maggots on your dragon sword. The combos, if you can master them should make you feel like a complete badass. There's nothing like gettin your ass handed to you for button mashing, learning from your mistakes and memorizing a good combo or two and pulling them off over and over again. If you pull off some real sick moves and you remembered to activate saved films from your last save spot you can go back and watch that ass kicking you just dealt. Saved films is almost like it's done in Halo 3 except you can't share them with friends to compare who's less of a pussy and that sucks. But it's still there and I thought it at least diserves a mention.
They introduced the new element of finishing moves. If you're able to hack off an opponents limb, and believe me it will happen alot, you can press Y while you're over them and you'll start a quick maybe 2 - 3 second animation of kickass brutality. You can now switch weapons not quite on-the-fly but by simply pressing down on the d-pad the action will pause while you access your inventory of weapons, health items and Ninpo. The main difference I noticed between pressing start to pause or down to pause was at least with the latter the screen displays your current situtation as opposed to blocking the view entirely, which in my opinion is priceless. The Ninpo this time around affects your enemies depending on how close they are to you as opposed to just affecting everything on the screen equally. Your health bar regenerates after every encounter has been cleared, although not fully and save spots are around almost every corner. In a way you can say that this game is more forgiving than the last but having a fat chick lick you in the face with her misty chicos breath, while suddenly grabbing your lower ear lobe bringin you down to the ground, then sitting on your face and rippin one nice and loud saying "I had subway" would amount to the same in my book.
It's always hard to decide whether or not to recommend a game. In one hand you have someone who doesn't or may not like the same games you do. In the other, you have the controller and the game on pause. However this is my site and the point of my reviews are to let you know whether I liked the game, if I bought it or not, why I bought it or not, and simply to give me something to do. My grading scale will be based on BUY, RENT, and I'll think of a third later when a game sucks that bad. Since I know what this game means to me I'll focus on that one for now which for me is an absolute BUY. I wanna say it's niche but only because even on easy it's balls to the walls hard. You really have to be into throwing controllers accross the room, ninjas, or have a sick fetish for disgustingly oversized boobs. If the Pink Ranger made a guest appearence, consider me a hermit. I gotta be honest with you though, I haven't finished the last two chapters yet but that's only cuz Microsoft botched my save file with the recent update they released for the game. Maybe I can try clearing the cache on my 360, just like they cashed my wallet with this game, oh ZING! bitches. In the first one you could unlock the original NES Trilogy, so you can get your ass handed to you 3 more times. However thats actually what justifies my BUY decision. Since I own the game I can keep goin back to it at my leisure. Since I still have my controller intact, I suppose that's a good sign. Between bouts of Soul Calibur 4 and writing shitty music, Ninja Gaiden 2 is a nice distraction.
Ninja Gaiden 2 is available on the Xbox 360 for $59.99. Published by Microsoft Game Studios and developed by Team Ninja. All screenshots courtesy of 1up.com. Until I setup my screenshot device I'm hopin they don't mind.