Ever since slashing it’s way through arcades and the Nintendo Entertainment System during the late 1980’s, the Ninja Gaiden series has received several iterations with each passing generation. Possibly the most significant change came during March of 2004 when Team Ninja teamed up with Tecmo to create Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox console. Heralded by many as an instant classic among hack and slack action titles, the game went on to garner several remastered versions across multiple platforms.
The latest in this category comes in the form of Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus for the Playstation Vita. Not only is this game an exceptional port of the original, but it’s also an above average fighter that deserves a rightful spot among others as a great launch title for the device. Here are a few reasons why Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus remains an ageless classic on the Playstation Vita.
[quote-left]a remastered gem that shines brightly on the Vita[/quote-left]For those who have yet to dive headfirst into the series, the premise follows the trials and tribulations of a masked super ninja protagonist named Ryu Hayabusa. After his village is burned down, Ryu embarks on a journey seeking vengeance over the violent acts committed by the culprits. His quest takes him through various settings and circumstances, each with complementary epic boss battles to endure. The story is on par with most standard martial arts flicks in the sense that it’s focused more on action rather then narrative.
One of the main staples in the franchise has always been the unforgiving combat system, which makes it a point to challenge the gamer in virtually every encounter. Whether you’re facing off against a demonic super villain or a group of aggressive ninjas, you can always expect your adversaries to go the distance with you. The game spans across 19 chapters and can take roughly up to 10-12 hours to complete based on skill level.
When it comes to Vita specific features, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus offers a few changes to enhance the gameplay experience. For starters, the front touch screen and six axis controls can be used together to shoot projectile weapons like bows and arrows in first-person mode. While this is a cool feature, it’s worth noting that adapting to this type of combat regularly requires both skill and accuracy to master. Another control based feature lies in the ability to use the rear touch screen to prompt special Ninpo attacks. These maneuvers do the most damage in high-pressure situations where you’re surrounded by waves of enemies.
[quote-right]you can always expect your adversaries to go the distance with you[/quote-right]The remaining two additions worth discussing are the inclusion of two new modes: Hero mode, and Ninja Trials Mode. Hero mode is a difficulty setting that offers up simpler controls such as auto guard, and reversal functions. Given that this game is already incredibly difficult to begin with, the decision to add this feature seems like a perfect option for newbies.
Ninja Trials Mode is pretty much a series of objective based mini-games that allow you to complete tasks in timed intervals. The goal of these challenges are to help you improve in your combat skills and maneuvers while also extending the overall replay value of the title.
For all the positives that Sigma Plus offers to gamers, you can be for sure that there is at least one glaring negative to address. The biggest problem with the original game was the poor use of the camera system. Unfortunately, that same issue has been ported over to the Vita and distracts from gameplay all too often. Many times I found myself maneuvering camera angles frequently while engaging in intense fighting sequences. This can be frustrating at first and definitely takes some getting used to if you intend to play through the campaign.
When it comes to launch titles, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a remastered gem that shines brightly on the Vita. Many times when games are ported over, quality and gameplay can sometimes become the areas that suffer most. Fortunately, this game defies all those rules and succeeds in delivering a rewarding experience from beginning to end. If for any reason you haven’t played Ninja Gaiden Sigma and you own a Playstation Vita, then now is a good a time as any to pick up this game.
This review is based on a digital copy of Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus for the PlayStation Vita provided by Tecmo Koei.