Ninja Gaiden 2 Review








Ninja Gaiden II is an oddball, the game blends aspects that make it both a standout, and a less than great title. As fans of any previous Ninja Gaiden adventures would come to expect, you return to the role of ninja master Ryu Hayabusa rolling around the world hacking up evil demons, nefarious nameless ninjas, and random gigantic monsters. Fans can also expect that Team Ninja kept one thing in mind while developing Ninja Gaiden II, and that’s the combat. While chopping off enemy’s arms and legs prove to be entertaining, the brutal combat never really evolves from the game’s first stage. The game does offer a wide variety in foes, werewolves, ninjas, dogs with knives, but most of these minions die the same way, and while they typically appear to fight you in a different manner, you predominately go about killing them the same way you would any other beast. Enemy’s can mostly be broken down into three types, ranged, toe-to-toe, and the boss battle which we’ll talk about later. 
This leads me to my next topic, and thats that your foes (forget that) every character in this game is crazy, and sometimes, if not all the time, a major turn off. What I mean by that is every character in this mature bloody tale feels ripped from a Saturday morning cartoon. This includes your antagonist, minions, and most embarrassingly, the bosses. For example, at the end of chapter seven their’s a boss fight against a giant turtle with a beard, that shoots fireballs at you. While it’s perfectly ok for a game to have an over the top Saturday morning-like character style, but Ninja Gaiden II presents itself as a mature gore-fest and immature art design really sticks out. Remember, dogs with knives. 

What really holds Ninja Gaiden back from being great is its horrendous level design. Well, maybe horrendous isn’t the correct vocabulary to utilize, but it seems as though the level designers haven’t worked on a game thats released since 1998. You’ll encounter the classic level barriers such as the doorway to the next area is locked, oh wait, you defeated all the enemy’s in this area, alright the door magically unlocked! Unlike the ridicules character work, the level design is just lazy linear throwaways. In a game that seems to be all about arena style battles, Team Ninja could have at least given us interesting or attractive environments. Poor lighting, boring areas to fight in, and a lack of environmental interaction hinders Ninja Gaiden II’s artistic side a thumbs down. 

While the artistic side of the Ninja Gaiden coin is rusted, few will care because players will come and stay for delicious combat. Clashing steel with your mighty foes is as flashy as ever, and pulling off stylish moves is as easy as 1, 2, 3, or at least X, X, Y. The fighting mechanics are incredibly easy to pick up, making Ninja Gaiden II more accessible to a wide audience, it’s just a matter of how quick your figures are sometimes. In fact, on the medium difficulty the combats a bit to easy compared to the original. The first nine levels or so area cake walk, I didn’t even worry about blocking the first half of the game. The difficulty does progress, but in less than a dramatic fashion then you would expect.

The difficult segments are the most depressing aspect of the game. This isn’t because it will cause your favorite controller to be thrown out the window (well, maybe) but when the game is kicking your ass in true Ninja Gaiden fashion, it’s not because of the sharp AI, but the game just becomes a cheap joke. Enemies and bosses alike will spam cheap moves, and unleash unblockable attacks. As Ryu, you too can be cheap and spam such attacks as the almighty Ultimate Technique which can pretty much be your fail safe plan if your in a jam. Between button mashing, your Ultimate Technique, and Ninpo spells, no minions will give you much problem if you can tame the game’s horrendous camera, which can pretty much serve as a game-long boss itself considering how many times you’ll die because of it. This time I utilized the correct vocabulary. 

Keep in mind Ninja Gaiden II isn’t a bad game, but it posses many negative aspects that are however, mostly outweighed by its positives. That goes to show how powerful the combat is considering its the only redeeming quality about the game, and has so much negativity going against it. With the bad camera, and level design a side this sequel has failed to evolve from its predecessor, and it leaves me the impression it was a rushed product. With that said everything about Ninja Gaiden II feels eight years old, menus, level design, presentation, and so on. However, there is little on the Xbox 360 library in the realm of character action beyond Devil May Cry 4, and this game is totally better than that. So fans of the series will find no surprise, but will return to an even bloodier battlefield comprised with many faults, but also some of the best action you’ll find on the platform. Change is a powerful thing, Team Ninja should keep that in mind for their next title. 


-Steven Beynon


One Response to “Ninja Gaiden 2 Review”

  1. […] Ninja Gaiden 2 Review « Gameportrait […]

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