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Sep 3, 2008

Review: Ninja Gaiden II

Ninja Gaiden II
Microsoft Game Studios, Team Ninja
Available for Xbox 360

Team Ninja has finally published the long awaited sequel in the Ninja Gaiden series, but this time they did it with Microsoft Game Studios as their publisher instead of Tecmo. With the recent controversy between Team Ninja and Tecmo, it’s not surprising that the development team had branched out to work with other game publishers. Now the only question that remains is the success of Team Ninja based on their publisher or on their games? Let’s answer that today with my look at Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360.

The Ninja Gaiden series is a popular franchise going back as far as the original Nintendo system and when Team Ninja creates a new title in the series; gaming world stands up and pays attention. Being that I’ve never played a Ninja Gaiden game ever, I figured that a new game in the series was the best excuse I’d get to finally dive into the franchise and was I ever glad I did.

This game takes place one year after Ninja Gaiden with master blacksmith Muramasa setting up shop in Tokyo and receiving a visit from a CIA agent named Sonia, who is looking for Ryu Hayabusa. She is there to warn him of an impending attack on the Hayabusa Village by the Black Spider Ninjas, who wish to steal the Demon Statue they possess and protect. At that moment though, the evil Black Spider clan appears and kidnaps Sonia, only to have Ryu show up just in time to chase after them and rescue her. From here, Ryu must save the world from the possible resurrection of evil Archfiend and the evil Black Spider clan.

Now having not played the previous Ninja Gaiden games, I really didn’t have anything to compare this game to, so instead of saying it plays like previous titles in the series or whatever, I would have to say this game reminds me of Capcom’s Onimusha series which I had played. The game play, camera angles, menus, items, controls are all very similar, but the huge difference is this: Ninja Gaiden II is Onimusha perfected.

While the game can be quite difficult as you start to get into the higher chapters, even on the easier Path of the Acolyte setting, the controls are fluid and each of Ryu’s move are quite stellar to perform. He has a small arsenal of weapons he can choose from as well as some magic spells and projectile weapons. The best part of the game play though has to be watching Ryu pull off his special finishing moves where he will kill enemies in a sweet cinematic move. Gore movie fans will love the amount of blood in this game which literally paints the stage’s wall in some areas.

Besides the wicked Ninja moves players will have the opportunity to perform in this game, Ninja Gaiden’s neato prize in the box is really its graphics. From the detailed environments to the stunning cut scenes, this game is all around impressive to look at as it is to play. You literally get impressed just from how the gold shines on Ryu’s costume and weapon in the first cut scene.

The music draws from its Japanese roots and provides a very appropriate soundtrack to match the ancient/futuristic world that Ryu comes from. The hack and slash sounds really bring the death and destruction to live, but the voice actors were a little strange sounding in some parts.

Before I give my verdict, I just wanted to compliment Team Ninja on two things in this game besides the obvious, I love how the enemies refuse to give up and continue to crawl on the ground towards you even when you’ve hacked off their arm and maybe a leg. Also I love the name of Ryu’s father, Joe Hayabusa. A very classic name.

For never playing a Ninja Gaiden game, I have to say I really liked this game and plan to pick up future games in the series. It was beautiful, challenging and an absolutely stellar to play through. Fans of the series should definitely get this game and hack and slash genre fans will not be disappointed either.

Rating 9 out of 10
Buy it!

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