Console: XBOX Publisher: Tecmo Developer: Team Ninja Genre: Action Platformer Price: £10 Rating: 15
"Ninja who?" you may be asking yourself confused as to why I have labelled this a classic and you've never even heard of it (I wrote this as a review for my school paper, I know all you lot have intentionally searched for Ninja Gaiden and are fully aware of what it is). This never really made it into the mainstream. Perhaps it was the total lack of an advertising campaign or, more possibly, perhaps it was because this game was so fiendishly difficult that people just didn't get what is was about. You see, this game wasn't made for the majority of the gaming community. It was made for a very small collection of hardcore gamers who truly appreciated video games. This was gaming at its fullest. Only true gamers could understand what made Ninja Gaiden such an addictive, pure and rewarding cult classic.
I, for one, am glad that this didn't catch on to the general public. You see, this game separates the men from the boys and will get you taken seriously by fellow seasoned gamers. I call this a game for the hardcore for a reason. This has got to be one of the most demanding games ever spawned. To get past the first level you have to have lightning quick reflexes, the patience of a saint and a logical mind about you. The first boss who you encounter around fifteen minutes into the game seems like he should be saved for the end of the game as he is so damn hard to kill. Don't think it gets any easier either. Most of the time you have to take a deep breath and plunge into the line of fire hoping for the best, it isn't determined by luck whether you come out in one piece though.
Any button bashers who attempt this game will either need to fix their act up a bit or look for the receipt as there's only one way forwards, the tough way. The button layout seems simple enough, two attack buttons, one for throwing shuriken and jump but the combat system has a mind boggling level of depth. The combat works so smoothly with such fluency that it soon becomes intuitive, just don't forget to block with the left trigger. It's at this point, when you finally take understand the combat system that the game picks up. You have to at least make it to level 4, in the city, where you are released from the narrow corridors of the Hayabusa Village and the gigantic airship into the wide open streets that you can truly start to appreciate the game. If you give up before that point you cannot say that you tried and you're not a serious or passionate gamer.
The level design and outstanding graphics remain consistent throughout the game, each environment looking fresh and inviting, backed up by authentic sounding oriental background music which quickly switches to a pumping techno soundtrack whenever you get into a scrap. The enemies are well designed, each different type of enemy having a different attack pattern and requiring a new technique to kill. The story's pretty decent as well, told through gorgeously detailed pre rendered movie sequences.
Although it might not sound like it from what I've told you, this game is good to pick up and play. Rather than having to save progress one level at a time each level has a small scattering of save points, each about ten minutes away from each other. This means rather than having to devote hours at a time you can just see whether you can get to the next checkpoint which makes this such an addictive experience. You will get stuck though, many times. I gave up on the game for half a week at one point after I defeated this giant, electric eel worm which was so far the toughest boss I had come up against. I was frustrated to behold that half an hour onwards I came up against another boss. It was the same as beforehand but this time there were two of them. After about fifteen continues I killed them though and I was instantly hooked again.
This game is almost flawless and one of the best games ever made, ever. Pick this up as soon as possible as it goes pretty cheap these days and if you don't pick up this fantastic title then it's your loss.
Gameplay: ***** Sound: **** Graphics: ***** Lifespan: **** Overall Rating: *****