Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360
Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360 is a pretty good game. It has some great combat and it looks very pretty, but the story makes no sense and boss battles are too random and oft times too punishing. After I beat this game, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth and I didn’t want to go back for a second helping. In contrast, I couldn’t get enough of Ninja Gaiden 1.
Ninja Gaiden 2 is the direct successor to Ninja Gaiden 1 for the original Xbox. A later iteration of the game was released one year later called Ninja Gaiden Black, also on the original Xbox. NGB ironed out some of the kinks, provided harder difficulty setting, and included a robust “Missions Mode”. I played NGB into the ground. I read forums, watched videos, and trained for months, and in the end I beat the game on the hardest setting “Master Ninja”. Apart from beating the arcade version of Street Fighter 2 on one quarter, I’d consider beating NGB on Master Ninja to be my greatest gaming accomplishment. So you can bet that I was excited for the sequel right? Oh boy I was.
It’s hard to evaluate NG2 on its own merits and not compare it to the original NGB, so I won’t even try. In both games you play as Ryu Hayabusa, a ninja warrior. NGB is set in modern Japan and it was set up like a Metroid game. You could traverse the whole game world at anytime or backtrack. New areas opened up as you acquired new inventory upgrades. Your path weaved through already known areas and it was mapped out ingeniously. NG2, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Each stage is a different place on Earth. After defeating the boss of that stage, there is a cut scene and you fly to another world location. Once you’ve passed an environment, you’ll most likely never see it again. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. It’s just up to personal preference.
Like NGB, NG2 looks amazing. Every environment looks brilliant and at times I found myself stopping just to take in the scenery. Since NG2 is basically a world tour, you’ll get to play through a couple of the seven world wonders, and many other places on the globe. It’s good times.
The storyline of NGB wasn’t the greatest and the voice acting was average at best, but at least it was comprehensible. It gave drive to the player and he knew what his end goal was: REVENGE! In the first hour of NGB, Ryu’s village was burned to the ground and he was almost killed. In comparison, the storyline for NG2 is an absolute mess. It’s like reading a bad Sci-Fi novel, if you torn out every other page of the book. It really doesn’t lead you anywhere and gives no extra drive to the player to finish the game. Additionally, the voice acting and dialogue are among the worst of any game I’ve encountered. I “isht” you not. This is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night bad and there’s a lot of it! You’re better off muting the game.
Now on to combat. Both NGB and NG2 basically play the same. Your main weapon is the Dragon sword and along your journey you’ll find other helpful weapons. I love the combat of these games dearly. I’ve played many third person action games and the Ninja Gaiden series has the best combat system out there. It’s refined to a “T” and it rewards you handsomely for superior play, but it will cost you your life if you get caught unawares. I’m serious when I say this is the best combat you’ll find in a game. Dead serious. The game has a very diverse cast of enemies you’ll be plotted against and there is no shortage of things to kill. But even with good combat, there are a number of obstacles the developers inadvertently put in the games way.
What made me love NGB so much in the first place was: well, I knew I was gonna die a million times and I knew I was going to die with unsaved data. At least by playing the game I was getting better. I was learning the patterns of the normal guys, learning the patterns of the bosses, and I was mastering the combos. But in NG2, it’s just bull crap luck too many times on the bosses. A number of times it’s just figuring out glitches with the bosses cause they make themselves invisible. It felt dumb. One example: with the fire Demon guy that you have to fight, sometimes you can kill him entirely while he’s on the ground, but other times, he flies in the air and summons additional units to aid him. Also, while he’s in the air he constantly shoots fireballs at you and is basically invisible. So, it’s not a matter of skill, or even learning the bosses patterns, it’s just a matter of dying enough times until you get lucky and he doesn’t fly and shoot fireballs at you. Its stupid. It feels like pinball, luck and patience.
I must come clean though; on the very end guy of NG2, the guy is ridiculous. Its one of the most poorly designed bosses of all time. He was this big dragon-like thing called the Archfiend. He was supposed to destroy the world or something. Man was that guy glitchy. He had three positions:
1. Hanging Onto a Ledge — he shoots fireballs, fire from the ground, and he has melee attacks that do major damage. He can be attacked but it will probably be too much of a gamble.
2. Flying in the Air — he shoots fireballs and cannot be touched
3. Running Around — he runs on the ground the least, and he’s the most vulnerable. Some fights are ten minutes long and he doesn’t run on the ground once. And sometimes while he’s running on the ground, he runs into the wall and keeps running into the wall.
i did not have the patience to sit there and die over and over for hours on end until I caught got lucky break and he glitched out into the wall something. So i put Brent on the task, and after a couple more hours, and lots of screaming, he was able to defeat the Archfiend.
A couple months after the game was released, a downloadable “Missions Mode” was available for a small price on Xbox live. These missions give you an objective to complete, usually to survive wave after wave of foes. Its a great add-on to the game and it adds many more enjoyable hours to your playtime. Most importantly, it’s combat only.
Ninja Gaiden 2 was a good game, but Ninja Gaiden Black was a great game. Unfortunately, NG2 does so many things wrong that NGB did right. However, despite it’s shortcomings, it’s still a very fun game. And if you get the hang of the combat, there is much good times to be had. Ninja Gaiden 2 gets a hard fought 4/5