|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Team Ninja||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Tecmo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Ninpo, the Ninja Gaiden magic, is also available in Dragon Sword. You'll learn different spells from Ninpo Scrolls, but you can only use them when you've collected Ki power (usually after a save point).
Most of the Ninpo Scrolls are purchased from the old, wise merchant called Muramasa. The Art of Inazuma lets you attack with lightning bolts; The Art of Inferno creates a ball of fire you can direct towards the enemies; And The Art of the Fire Wheel burns the enemies' heart and soul. There are others you'll obtain with time, including The Art of Divine Life, which refills your health gauge when things get sticky. Using magic is always fun and very rewarding. Unfortunately, I didn't feel I got to use it enough; most of the time you can only use Ninpo once between save points. Sometimes you'll be able to collect more Red Essence from the enemies you defeat, but standard enemies aren't very generous that way.
It takes about six to nine hours to complete the game in normal mode, depending on your skills. You can connect to the servers through the Wi-Fi connection and submit your score. That way you'll be able to compare your dexterity with other people around the world; you'll be amazed to see how good some people are! Players on the top of the list have finished the game in three hours and a half without dying a single time.
The game hides a few prizes throughout. When you hear a bird sound, you need to shout or blow at the microphone. That will make a magical blue bird show up and fly all over the screen. Without letting it hit you, you have to slash it, and it will drop a numbered wooden talisman. These talismans contain new features and prizes. When you finish the game, you'll unlock a new difficulty mode. This will be appreciated by many, as the normal difficulty is not much of a challenge.
It's very easy to immerse yourself into Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. Not only is the control scheme unique, but the presentation is also very appealing, and the soundtrack puts you in the middle of a good action movie, except it's actually a video game. You'd never expect that from the DS, but Tecmo went for the whole package with their first action / adventure title on Nintendo DS: splendid presentation, engaging storyline, innovative controls, and a superb soundtrack. The characters don't speak much; they just say things like "...uhm," "...hmm," "ah?," "...ha!" The player has to read the dialogue most of the time. Luckily, it's not very long at all, so it never got annoying. Just a few times you'll hear the characters talk but in Japanese. I actually liked that a lot; it adds authenticity. After all, why would Ninjas and other clearly Japanese characters speak English?
Most cutscenes are composed by beautiful comic-style drawings, and the main gameplay happens in three dimensional-looking environments made of two-dimensional elements. It's difficult to describe, but it looks great, particularly for the DS. The only problem is that sometimes there's not a clear sense of depth and Ryu lands where you least expect it after a jump. Sometimes he and the enemies become really small when they're further away, making the fighting a bit more arduous. Overall though, the game sports high-quality visuals with lots of neat details within the multiple environments shown in the game.
Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is possibly the best action game ever made for Nintendo DS. Tecmo did an outstanding job with it, and most gamers should be more than happy if they decide to pick up the title. If you enjoy action on-the-go, pack up your DS and a copy of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, and you're good to go!
CCC Site Director