XBOX REVIEW: NINJA GAIDEN BLACK

Ninja Gaiden Black is such a damn good game that it's easy to overlook the violent aspect of it. Make no mistake, this is an incredibly violent game but once you begin playing it you are so engrossed in your task that it doesn't really register exactly what you're doing. While onlookers may be horrified by the onscreen brutality, to you it's just another day at the office.

Before you work yourself up into a frothing frenzy, you might want to know that Ninja Gaiden Black is not a sequel but a reissue with some new content. This isn't just rehash, it's an incredibly thoughtful repackaging that changes certain aspects of the gameplay and comes out with something that seems new and fresh. It also has five difficulty settings to aid the most feeble beginner or challenge the most hardcore of digital warriors. Your score, or karma, will be posted on the net for the whole world to see. It's based on how fast you clear a room and the techniques that you employ to do it.

Ninja Gaiden Black is a very open game. There are some new scripted events and button mashing still makes up most of the gameplay but there is tons of room for improvising. Not only will you still fights crowds of enemies, you will be confronted by smaller gangs and even teams of bosses. It's your decision to take these enemies on and earn more power-ups and essences or avoid them and take your chances with the hordes.

Also included in this collection are the two downloadable Hurricane expansion packs, the arcade version of the original Ninja Gaiden, new missions and a total of 50 arena battles, most of them new. There are some new red ninjas that throw fireballs but the rest of the enemies have all been recycled.

Few games can compare to the relentless action of Ninja Gaiden. There might be an awful lot of button mashing but the gameplay is so much more diversified than just hacking and slashing. The Ninjas in this game don't always sneak around in the shadows. They jump right into the fracas like modern-day superheroes. Once you acquire the touch, you will feel invincible. Working the controls becomes second nature after much practice, and much practice is what is required if you're going to get anywhere in this game. There are many different modes and unlockables but you'll have to unlock them in sequence which requires you to gain considerable skills before you can move on. Owners of the original game will be able to unlock some features automatically if they have saved any data from that game.

Beginners rejoice. It's now easier than ever to enjoy the ninja adventure with a special aid that is triggered automatically after the game senses that you're a lousy player. Lose your life three times in the first level and you'll activate the Ninja Dog difficulty mode in which Ayane comes to your aid to help and belittle you. It's a lesson in humiliation to be sure as you must beg for her help like a dog. When you do get it you'll receive tips and power-ups that will give you more abilities, almost like a cheat code. The downside is that you'll have to wear a pink armband to remind yourself of your sad abilities.

Hardcore ninjas are sure to take an ass kicking in one of the most challenging modes I think I've ever played. The Ninja Master difficulty mode is incredibly tough. I don't think I have enough time left in my life to devote to such a challenge. As if the game isn't already loaded with enough features, mastering all of the difficulty levels could take an idiot like me years. Excellent replay value for the conscientious or the anal retentive that has to unlock and complete everything.

Like any crowd battling game there are going to be camera issues. I don't see how you can get around that and still have an open style of gameplay. The camera is better than in the original game but it still manages to confuse you at certain conjunctions.

Graphically the game is excellent. Not only can't I find anything technical to complain about but I just loved looking at the images on the screen. The characters have a full, 3D look to them and move very smoothly. This is Xbox processing at its finest. While we may already be familiar with most of the environments they still retain depth and detail and a level of interactivity that brings them from the background to the forefront. The sound effects come out loud and clear and the ambient music perfectly reflects the emotions of the cutscenes.

No one ever said that being a ninja was easy, but I can tell you for certain that being a ninja has never been this much fun. Don't wait, get your mitts on this game immediately.

Preview By Vaughn

Ninja's have been around since Shinobi, but I guess if you're being historically accurate, they've actually been around since feudal Japan. But they were more fun in Shinobi....One of the most famous ninja's of all, Ryu Hyabusa, who was actually the name of a wrestler in Nintendo Wrestling back on the NES, has technically been around for close to twenty years already, if you count the wrestling title. He's appeared in Ninja Gaiden the arcade game, the NES ports, the Dead or Alive series and of course the Ninja Gaiden game.

Tecmo succeeded in releasing one of the hardest hack and slashers known to man when it unleashed Ninja Gaiden to rabid Xbox fans in early 2003. With Black, Team Ninja is in effect releasing the Hurricane pack which was only downloaded by 10% of the people who bought the original Ninja Gaiden. Gamers will find lots of cool extras including a much easier difficulty level (if they chose it!) or harder difficulty, new costumes, new modes and if you can believe it, even better visuals. The visuals are so hot we actually originally previewed this as an Xbox 360 title and then Tecmo corrected us.

Stay tuned!

Features:

  • Compatible with Xbox™ Live: Karma scores can be uploaded to the online leader boards via Xbox Live
  • Increased Levels of Difficulty: Five levels of difficulty for all kinds of gamers including "Ninja Dog" to "Very Difficult Master Ninja"
  • Increased Action-Packed Missions: Play in Story mode or Mission Mode with a massive number of missions to complete, including traditional enemy battles, time challenges, boss battles and more!
  • Challenging Hurricane Packs Content: Content such as new enemies and big, bad bosses from Hurricane Packs 1&2 included as special bonus for an extra ninja challenge.
  • Never-Before-Seen Content: New cinematic cut scenes that reveal secrets from the world of Ninja Gaiden.
  • Jaw-dropping Sounds and Graphics: Stunning graphics and incredible sounds as you would expect from Tecmo’s esteemed development team, Team NINJA
  • Colossal Amounts of Bonus Content: Hidden unlockables including the original arcade version of Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Ryukenden, available for the first time on a video game console in Ninja Gaiden: BLACK
System: Xbox
Dev: Team Ninja
Pub: Tecmo
Release: Sept 2005
Players: 1
Review By Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
5.0