Ninja Gaiden 2 Review
Review By Steve Farrelly @ 09:40am 12/06/08
Throughout this sea of Ninja knowledge, at least one member of a respected clan has dropped his guard enough for us to get to know him somewhat personally (a rarity in the world of the Ninja). I am of course talking about Ryu Hayabusa who, since 1988, has been sharing his daring adventures with us in some form or another across a variety of different mediums that include the NES, SNES, Master System, MegaDrive, and Arcades.
For anyone who ingested the 2004 tale of Ryu’s exploits against the Archfiends, Ninja Gaiden II’s telling and subsequent experience should be fairly easy going down. Most of the action and narrative here is familiar territory, if only told in a higher definition, but for anyone who may have missed the previous iteration, things can be a little daunting at first.
Let’s assume you haven’t sat around the Xbox fire to listen to the story of Ninja Gaiden, and that this is your first time experiencing the gripping adventures of the Hayabasu Clan heir, Ryu. Also, for the sake of narrative I’ll need to express his adventures in a pseudo viewing/playing style of rumination; done so as if you, yourself were experiencing the adventure (it’s just the Ninja story-telling way, who am I to change it...).
Things kick off in the world of Ninja Gaiden II (which is the same world as the Dead or Alive universe, for your information), as they so often do with Ninja God, Tomonobu Itagaki, at the helm beginning with a healthy dose of jiggle-physics infused gaming bewbage (breasts, for those up the back). We’re introduced to blonde leather-clad CIA operative bombshell, Sonia, who is in search of the elusive Ryu Hayabusa. Immediately she finds herself in trouble when she is ambushed by the Black Spider Clan in an attempt to use her as a lure to nab Ryu for themselves.
The first chapter of Ryu’s new adventure is a doozy, and thankfully, if you’ve never bared witness to his exploits before, there’s a ready tutorial that sets you up.
Blocking is as easy as holding the left trigger, while attacks are handled in Light and Heavy form with X and Y respectively. There are simple and deep combinations of buttons, and you can also use projectile weapons (such as shurikens and bows) and magic called Ninpo.
Most of Ryu’s abilities are rekindled across the first and second chapters, but he’ll continually come across new weapons and tools to use, each of which can be upgraded through the aforementioned merchant.
As a Ninja it’s important to stay ahead of weapon and power upgrades as each chapter of Ryu’s tale come replete with an epic boss to trial moves and abilities on. For the most part, despite looking like ex-Power Ranger or Ninja Turtles extras, the bosses Ryu faces can offer a reasonable challenge. Some are relentlessly good at their art, while others no how to use a weapon or two. Whatever the case, figuring out how to beat them through various combinations of attack, defend, range and Ninpo is paramount to success, which is where the differences between mashing through and understanding the art come into play.
Make no mistake listeners, Ryu’s adventures are not for the faint of heart, either. There will be blood, and plenty of it as Ryu dismembers his foes in the most fashionable ways possible. It’s unfortunate the action is so thick though, as it’s often hard to truly appreciate the separation between a shoulder and an arm amidst the chaos that is the life of a Hayabasu clan member, but such it is.
There is no option to Ninja it up with friends here, which is a missed opportunity with Ninja Cinema, but it makes sense given the pedigree of the game.
The adventures of Ryu Hayabusa will always be remembered and revered by fans of his work, but his latest shows many of his actions and presentations are now quite out-of-date. But if you like blood and reasonably simple stories to ingest, there’s plenty to swallow here, just don’t go expecting an Earth-shattering tale of the most epic proportions lest you leave your quarters utterly disappointed.