Ninja Gaiden II is the follow up to the smash hit Xbox game from Team Ninja. Tomonobu Itagaki has since left Team Ninja after putting a lot of sweat and tears into creating a worthy sequel. Has he succeeded in bringing the sequel to the next-gen or should have he quit while he was ahead we with the stellar original?
The same hack ‘n’ slash gameplay that made the original so great is back. The premise of Ninja Gaiden II is simple, chop the body parts, specifically the heads of all the enemies you face as you embark on a quest to avenge your clan and prevent destruction of the human race from a brutal and relentless enemy. This is pretty much what you do the entire time, even when facing the large and sometimes extremely difficult bosses at the end of each level. Don’t think for a second though that this sounds boringly repetitive and too simplistic as once you delve into the game, the gameplay shows depth and NGII becomes very hard to put down. You have various weapons in the game from the Dragon Sword, The Lunar Staff to the Fiend’s Bane Bow and Shuriken. The controls are relatively simple, although there are numerous combo moves, which require almost Street Fighter like button combinations. The B button is used for the long-range weapons and X and Y are your main attack buttons. You use the analog sticks to move and look around and the D-pad for accessing different weapons and health that are in your kit. Pulling off some of the cool combos is awesome and the satisfaction of seeing the close-up camera view of you chopping body parts off and finishing with their head never gets boring.
Throughout the 12 chapters in the game, you encounter various types of enemies and bosses with various strengths and weaknesses. Even on the easiest difficulty, setting the game is extremely hard. It is perhaps too hard for the casual gamer as some parts, in particular, some of the bosses can take ages to get through and some will find doing the same thing repeatedly and dying many times too frustrating and will give up. To be honest, I thought I’d be one to do that, but I find NGII so addictive I have sunk many hours into it and just can’t get enough. Other than killing enemies, NGII has an element of puzzle solving with finding the right path to take along with having various collectables scattered throughout the game in the form of skulls and scrolls. Finding new scrolls opens up new powers, which you can use to combat the enemies.
Ninja Gaiden II’s graphics are great. They are not groundbreaking by any stretch, but they do serve the game well. The characters are smoothly animated with things going at a blistering pace, although some of the enemy characters are very simplistic and look the same. The bosses are highly detailed and look fantastic. The environments are rich in colour and detail and suit the game beautifully and really set the scene well.
The sound in Ninja Gaiden II is quite plain and simple. The music is very atmospheric and fits the game well. The sound effects of the weapons are great and the sound of limbs being sliced off is very meaty and brings a grin to your face every time. Other than that there is a little voice acting to mention.
Ninja Gaiden II is a fast, frenetic and addictive action game that will have fans of the original jumping for joy and will give those looking for an alternative to DMC4 very happy.
Simplistic, deep and addictive, NGII is simply a joy to play. Casual gamers beware though, this is one tough game.
Great environments, detailed looking bosses and smooth animation make NGII a good but not great game to look at.
Atmospheric music and great sound effects, but that’s about it?
This is Ninja Gaiden and the action genre, at its finest!
Reviewed and Written by Craig Cirillo