Ninja Gaiden Black, released by Tecmo and Team Ninja in 2005, is such a great game that it’s easy to overlook the more violent aspects of it. Make no mistake, this is an incredibly violent game. But once you begin playing it, you will become 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, players will find themselves in a kind of trance. The violence on screen becomes just a byproduct of their constant dance with their enemies and the game’s environments.
A Remix of Ninja Gaiden
To go into this game fully prepared, you might want to know that Ninja Gaiden Black is not a sequel, but a reissue with some new content. This isn’t just a rehash; it’s an incredibly thoughtful repackaging that changes certain aspects of the gameplay and comes out as something new and fresh. It also has five difficulty settings to aid the most untrained beginner or challenge the most hardcore of digital warriors. Your score (called “karma in-game) will be posted online for the whole world to see. Scoring is based on how fast you clear a room and the techniques that you employ to do so. If you really want to impress your friends, you’ll want to perfect each room by finding the most efficient way to dispatch your enemies.
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 also a ton of room for improvisation. Not only will you still fight crowds of enemies, but you will also 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 to avoid them and take your chances with the hordes.
An Onslaught of Action
Few games can compare to the relentless action of Ninja Gaiden Black. There might be an awful lot of button mashing, but the gameplay is 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, and many have the skills to justify their confidence. Once you acquire the touch, though, you will feel invincible. Working the controls becomes second nature after much practice, which you’ll need 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. This 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 save data from that game.
New Modes to Mix Up Gameplay
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 already made their appearances in the base 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 having trouble. Lose your life three times in the first level and you’ll activate the Ninja Dog difficulty mode, in which Ayane comes to both help and belittle you. It’s a lesson in humility to be sure, as you must literally beg for her help. Once you’ve humbled yourself enough, 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 as a reminder that you asked for help, but this is still a nice addition for those just getting used to this kind of game.
Hardcore ninjas are sure to take their lumps in one of the most challenging modes of any game thus far. Ninja Gaiden Black’s Ninja Master difficulty mode is incredibly tough, and will take many hours of practice to even survive; perfectionists will get a lot of enjoyment out of it. As if the game isn’t already loaded with enough features, mastering all of the difficulty levels could take years. It provides replay value for those conscientious folks who feel the need to unlock and complete everything.
Excellent Sounds and Visuals
Like any crowd-battling game, there are some camera issues. It’s hard to get around that, given Ninja Gaiden Black’s open style of gameplay. The camera has been improved from the original game, but can still manage to confuse at times.
Graphically, the game is excellent. You would be hard-pressed to find anything technical to complain about, and it’s great just 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 most of the environments may be familiar to players of the original game, they still retain depth and detail, with 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 being a ninja has never been this much fun. While it may not be a game made for the squeamish, fans of action games should try to get their hands on Ninja Gaiden Black immediately. Fans of Team Ninja’s more recent games, including Nioh and Nioh 2, may even want to give this one a look, as some of the gameplay will feel familiar (if a bit faster-paced).