Ninja Gaiden Black Review

Developer: Team Ninja Publisher: Tecmo
Release Date: September 20, 2005 Also On: None

One of the biggest releases of 2004, Ninja Gaiden, was the highly anticipated remake of the classic trilogy on Nintendo. Throughout its lifespan on the Xbox, Ninja Gaiden went through many changes with its two Hurricane Packs that added levels, weapons, and costumes. These free content downloads on Xbox Live added a lot of extra content to Ninja Gaiden, adding to the already difficult game. With all these things added, there was a push for these new features to be added into the game directly. That is where Ninja Gaiden Black comes into view.

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Visually, nothing has changed since its release last year, but it is still one of the Xbox’s best looking titles. Character models are still among the best on any game and the animation is near flawless for the sheer speed of the game. There are plenty of clones and repeated enemies that you will face. Each level does have a few unique enemies, but they are used way too often, giving you very little variety in who you will face. The environments however are gorgeous and you won’t want to look away from this eye candy.

Voice acting in the game was well done, but could have been better. While new dialogue was added onto this new game, the characters still tend to drag on too long when you just want to get back to the action. The clashing of samurai swords and spinning staffs is good and adds to an immersive experience. The in-game music tunes in decently with the rest of the action. With a game such as this, you’d want a bit more of a fast paced beat to catch up with the speed of the gameplay.

If you have played the first Ninja Gaiden, then really nothing major has been changed. You are given the same story to follow, but things such as levels and weapons from the Hurricane Packs have been implemented into the game. One of the bigger additions from the content downloads is the Lunar. This staff is great for racking up combos and fending off large swarms of enemies. Luckily, you will get this staff in the second level of the game, allowing you to have it through some of the tougher game moments in the beginning.

There are also a few more cameos from Ayane and adds a few more lines of dialogue to the cut-scenes which just drags it on a bit longer. Some enemies have been changed from the last game to mix it up a bit and make some parts easier and harder in some areas to balance the game for everyone. If the camera would stop being so bad though, that would make things great.

Two difficulty modes have been added to allow gamers a new test of their skills. While Ninja Gaiden might be a bit too hard for some people, you can start out on Ninja Dog mode, which is sort of like the easy mode of the story. You cannot select this however; you must die 3 times in a row on the first level and you will experience a cut scene of Ayane mocking your skills as a Ninja. Now, when she throws you tips throughout the game, you will also be given rice balls to fill your health and ribbons that help you gain skills earlier to make things a bit easier.

Master Ninja is an extremely difficult setting that is basically ridiculous to attempt. The game’s creator says that there are only about 10 people in the world that will be able to beat this mode. That alone scares the pants off me, but there is still even more difficulties along the way with Mission Mode that is unlocked after you complete the story. This gives you 50 missions to complete which ranges from beating up enemies and bosses to timed events. They will keep you occupied for a while.

If you actually beat the first Ninja Gaiden and have it in your collection already, there is no need to rush out and purchase Black. Black was basically geared toward those who don’t have Live and didn’t get a chance to play with the Hurricane Pack additions. You are basically getting the same game as before with a mission mode for $30. If you never bought the first Ninja Gaiden and have a burning desire in it, by all means go ahead. But if you have Live, I’d say you should buy the first one for half the price and download the Hurricane Packs.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.7
Written by Shawn Review Guide

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