Ninja Gaiden II Demo Angrily Reviewed

Ryu Hayabusa
“Well, I guess I don’t need to call the guys to help me paint my walls anymore.”

The last Ninja Gaiden game I played was on the original Nintendo. And boy did it kick my ass over and over again. And I kept coming back for more. I missed it when it came out for the XBOX. Now that the sequel has dropped on the 360, I thought I’d give it a whirl. It should be noted that this review is based on the free demo you can download from XBOX Live. Things may have improved for the final release.

From all the hype surrounding this installment, I was promised ninja awesomeness and flying body parts. Do. Want. I was pretty pumped to get started. I pushed start expecting to dive into a bloody orgy of infinite maiming and… fail. Instead of glorious button mashing carnage, I’m treated to an intro cinematic that introduces Sonia who’s main purpose, as far as I can tell, is to show off Team Ninja’s new physics engine that includes realistic fun bag jiggle (realistic if your boobs are quadruple D size and defy gravity). I suppose there was some sort of plot point to the boobs, but if your game is essentially linear, why force us to sit through a glorified demo reel movie that only highlights the weakness of the plot? Yes, yes, Sonia’s happy fun bags would certainly give Ivy a run for her money. But honestly, I desperately wanted to skip so I could get to the maimings.

Sonia
“Look, it’s pretty simple. You use your ninja magic to defeat enemies and I use mine to keep my boobs in.”

Game Play

My brother once told me that the success of a video game is taking what essentially amounts to thirty seconds of game play and making it fun for hours. Ninja Gaiden II certainly makes hacking apart punk mother fuckers quite fun. For hours? Not so sure.

You start with an arsenal of shuriken, bow and arrows, ninja to, giant fucking death scythe, and wolverine’s claws. Along the way, you can pick up a sectional staff with two spiked balls of pain on either end. The shuriken are fairly useless and I never bothered with the arrows. The great big doom scythe gives you the most body parts per opponent. If you like to decorate your walls with blood red, this is the weapon for you. The sword has some pretty vicious finishing moves that are quite satisfying. Wolverine would be seriously pissed if he knew how poorly his claws performed. It could be that I just didn’t know how to use them, but they didn’t rend bodies in nearly enough parts for my tastes. The sectional staff of pain was surprisingly good at hacking things to bits. I found myself switching between the staff and the scythe throughout the demo.

Oh, there’s ninja magic, too. But as we all know, ninja magic is for pussies. And maybe bosses. I used it a few times by accident, but found killing fools with my scythe of painful doom was much more fun.

The combos are brilliant, but there seems to be no apparent skill to perform them. Button mashing works wonders. I beat a mofo down with 32 hits with my doom stick because he ambushed me. I suppose if I paid attention, I could unlock the actual button sequences to perform specific combos. But serious, button mashing FTW.

This all sounds like mad fun. But besides the useless plot told through excruciatingly boring and unstoppable cut sequences, the camera kicks the fun square in the balls. For seemingly no apparent reason, in the middle of a fight the camera will zoom to another perspective that completely hides the enemy from view. This is where your button mashing comes in handy. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it won’t fuck you up. I got so tired of ambushes I found myself hitting the attack button before going around corners for fear that some asstard that I couldn’t see would start using me as a pin cushion. It’s almost tolerable in the levels, but I imagine if the camera suddenly shifted horribly during a boss fight, I’d be fucking livid. Save your ninja magic for the boss folks cause if the camera fucks you, you’re going to need something.

Recommendation

Besides the unwanted cinematics (I was able to skip them the second time around so that was nice) and fucktard camera operator, I found the Ninja Gaiden demo quite enjoyable. Enough to buy? Not entirely sold. Gaiden games have a tradition of kicking you in the face and ripping your guts out through your nostrils. They’re fucking hard. And while easily beating a game can be disappointing, never seeing the end boss unless someone posts it up on YouTube is equally disappointing. There’s a happy medium and while Ninja Gaiden II might have it, the fucked up camera denotes otherwise. Granted, this is coming from the least hardcore gamer you know so difficulty might be no big thing. I did find the hacking of the body parts to be quite enjoyable but I question the replay value. However, I am still curious and will probably rent this should we happen upon a video rental place near by (the closest Hollywood just up and closed. Might have to jump into some GameFly action).

So there you go. The demo kinda makes me want more, but still frustrates me enough that I’m not willing to shell out full price just yet.