A review by K-MAN
When Team Ninja first announced that they were making a Ninja Gaiden game exclusive for the Nintendo DS, people were skeptical AND excited. The reason for this is because Ninja Gaiden is a series known to be incredibly hard, fast paced, and above all, very violent. Fortunately this portable title of the badass ninja was not a disappointment after all, as Team Ninja really knew how to take advantage of the console's hardware. When i first played this game, I was satisfied because it delivered the action, sword combos, and challenging boss fights I crave in a Ninja Gaiden game. Though the difficulty was not as RAGE filling as I thought (however you do unlock the harder difficulty once you finish the game) but by the end of the day, I had a lot of fun with this portable title.
For those who don't who Ryu Hayabusa is, Ryu is part of the Hayabusa Ninja Clan, responsible to guard the Dragon Sword against the Evil Deities, followers of the Dark Dragon. Ryu is the last of his kind and therefore must protect the Dragon Sword as his life depends it.Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
is actually a prequel (along with Ninja Gaiden Black and Ninja Gaiden II) to the NES Ninja Gaiden version and what a way to introduce a prequel
STORY - 7/10
I found that the story is actually pretty bland and boring and that it felt like I've experienced through it several times. You first start the story out in the forest where Ryu is training with his apprentice, Momiji, a female ninja who is training to become a great ninja like Ryu. As the training is over, Momiji decides to stay. Ryu is fine with it but tells her she should watch out for any danger. As soon as Ryu leaves, a group of demons known as the Black Spider clan ambush Momiji. Right at this point, you play as Momiji and start to learn the gameplay mechanics (which we'll take about in a bit), though the Fiends are no match for Momiji, a red dragon appears and defeats Momiji. The Black Spider clan kidnaps Momiji, their reason for this is that they believe Momiji may hold a power that is stronger than that of the Dragon Sword and they plan to use it against Ryu wiping out the Hayabusa clan from existence. We later find a concerned Ryu, wondering why Momiji hasn't comeback. He returns to the forest later finding a group of the Black Spiders scouting the area. As soon as Ryu defeats them he finds out that Momiji has been kidnapped.
Ryu has to once again defeat the Fiends and rescue Momiji before it's too late.
Throughout the game, you try and save Momiji before the Black Spider Clan can try to harness the power she contains. However this is not the only main goal in the game because in order to reach the area where Momiji is held captive, Ryu must find these dark dragonstones. For each of the seven bosses you'll fight and defeat, you gain a dark dragonstone. Each one will unlock the next world you have to enter in order to gain the next dark dragon sword. However little do you know that you are actually saving some of the Black Spider Clan's time as you are collecting it for them...
Though I thought the typical structure of killing boss, get in-game item, repeat, face final boss, save girl was a bit old, I didn't find myself repeatedly trying to press the A button to skip the cutscene. What did interest me though was---- wait you know what, nothing interested me in this story. I wanted to find something interesting but you know, I wasn't that hooked up on it. It was too average and I thought Team Ninja could excite it somehow but hey, it is a prequel after all. However I did like the addition of Momiji because let's face it, Female Ninjas are the hottest thing since a girl in a bikini. Oh yeah, you heard me.
GAMEPLAY - 8.5/10
The gameplay, I should say, pretty much makes up for its bland storyline. The moves you can do are not the usual sick and complex combo moves that leave your enemy decapitated. No, instead it's more cool and simple. Basically how you control Ryu is how you would control Link in Phantom Hourglass
, touching the screen from a distance while Ryu follows along. As for offense moves, all you do is slash away at your enemies by moving the stylus either horizontally or vertically on the enemy. However if you want to create more destruction, quickly move the stylus in a scratch-like motion like a madman, release, and Ryu will just about kill all his enemies on the screen. As for defense moves, well all you need to do is either press the D-Pad or the L button. If you're a lefty, you can either press the XYAB buttons or the R button. I found that using these buttons helps you in quickly dodging enemy attacks especially against bosses.
The one thing I liked about the gameplay is how throughout the game, you earn these special artifacts. Basically what they are is spells which you can call upon that either conjures up a huge, burning fireball or how you can summon thunderbolts and cast them upon your foes. A personal favorite of mine is the very last artifact you earn which basically has you bringing down dark asteroids, killing those dumb enough to get close to you. I especially liked the way you have to summon these artifacts which is basically tracing their symbols on the touch screen before you get to use them which almost made me feel like a true ninja.
If you've gathered enough energy, you can summon dark asteroids, turning your enemies to dust.
I must warn you though that don't expect to be playing this game for hours on end as it can make your hand tired since you'll be slashing up so many enemies left and right frantically. If you do play this game without taking a break, your hand will stay in a jerk-like figure which suspiciously looks like during your Friday nights. So it's best you take a 10 minute break if you're that addicted to the game.
GRAPHICS - 7.5/10
The boss (left) sure looks a bit gritty but he boasts tremendous size.
Alrite so yeah, I know it's just a DS game and you can't really expect it to have high quality graphics. But as much as I tried lowering my expectations, this is the best score I can give it. The background for this game is all pre-rendered meaning, it's not going to change, always staying the same. Which didn't bother me one bit. However, the enemies looked a bit like blobs with claws sticking out. They didn't look that tough as I thought but at least they were recognizable enough that they are evil and will do everything that can to kill Ryu.
Although I WAS surprised that the bosses looked amazing. I didn't get the "wow!" emotion, more like "kick ass!" emotion. Some are about Ryu's size and some are five times his size which actually makes them easier to fight. For some of the bosses that were bigger than Ryu, I felt like the bosses could crush me at any given moment which I was pleased with because that's what bosses are supposed to be about. They are mean, evil, and above all, look like they're totally indestructible and Dragon Sword
captured that feeling.
"Dammit, I keep telling you guys not to bother me on Mondays. Now feel my WRATH!!"
As for cutscenes, they're great actually. Not much dialogue or text (which I looooove as I hate reading a lot of a text in a game.) and all are hand-drawn which is superb. I especially liked how for each epic cutscene, if it doesn't have enough room, they have to use both screens. You know a cutscene is epically awesome if they use both screens!
Overall, I found this game..... AWESOME. Sure the story was dozing me off but the gameplay was truly wonderful and enjoyable. The way where you have to cut and chop up enemies in a badass ninja-like fashion just makes me want to giggle like a schoolgirl. The graphics, while not amazing, is pretty decent and somehow manages to capture the evil and wickedness for each boss. There isn't too much replay value to this game, I mean unless you can try and find these hidden wooden pieces and exchange them for special character bios. Yeah that doesn't sound too exciting. However there is a much harder difficulty once you beat the game if normal mode didn't prove enough of a challenge. I would recommend this game to anybody looking for some ninja action on the DS or generally wants a game that just has some violence for when you want a break from finding that super-ultra-rare and shiny ditto, ragggggggggggggggggggge!
I give this game an 8 out of 10
. Thanks for reading!