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Ninja Gaiden

Preview By: Siou Choy

Developer:   Team Ninja
Publisher:   Tecmo
Genre:   Action
Est. Release:   December 2003
Date Posted:  

7-30-03

Oh, for crying out loud…will somebody remind the populace at large that the 80’s are dead (and that they kinda sucked when they were here)?   We’re not quite to the point where Rambo, the A Team, and GI Joe are ruling the airwaves again (though current events might seem to put the lie to that statement…ahem), but you can tell things are getting bad, when (of all things) ninja games are popular once more.  With the recent releases of Shinobi and Strider, you had to figure that it would only be a matter of time before Ninja Gaiden reared it’s ever so stealthy head again.   The cleverly named development group Team Ninja (also responsible for the excellent Dead or Alive series) will be delivering a full dose of tacky nostalgia (in 3D, yet) to the Xbox this fall.  Team Ninja has managed to dig up Ryu Hayabusa from the original 2D Ninja Gaiden, for this blast from your wrestling figure-collecting past.  Oh, I can just hear the collective voices shouting, “YES!”   Note to obsessed DOA fanboys: your favorite half-dressed teenage “ninja”, Ayane, will make an appearance in the game, serving as messenger to Ryu.

This time around, Ryu won’t have to rely solely on his katana: he’ll be able to use such kung fu movie favorites as the nunchaku, shuriken, and bow and arrow, even performing feats of ninjitsu magic throughout the game (top hat complete with rabbit sure to be included with the obligatory tie-in action figure).  One wonders if Ayane will double as assistant for the sawing a woman in half trick.

One of the things that made the original Ninja Gaiden so popular was the ability of its lead character to run on walls (the next sound you hear is your suspension of disbelief, cracking under the heavy load this game represents).  Naturally, you’ll have that ability…and more (I can’t even keep a straight face writing this one, guys…).  Gamers will play in third person view, shifting to first person only when utilizing the bow and arrow, for aiming purposes.

The plot (oh, boy, here it comes…) has Ryu Hayabusa seeking revenge against the Vigor Empire, which has caused the destruction of his clan (the Sleepy Empire, I would imagine), and stolen the magic sword Ryuken (ooh, a magic sword).  So, as you might expect from any hackneyed kung fu/RPG/action movie plot for the last 50 years or so, it’s up to Ryu to avenge his clan and return the sword to it’s rightful place (didn’t see that one coming, did ya?). In addition to fighting off fellow ninjas, Ryu will have to contest with cybernetic warriors (hello?  Attention to time period, please?) and the ever popular blanket clause “non-human enemies”.

The one thing you can say about all this is that the team responsible for the DOA series is sure to offer nothing less than stellar graphics for Ninja Gaiden.  From what I’ve seen so far, Ryu moves with smoothness, and while the overall look and feel doesn’t quite come off on par with DOA standards, in comparison with a lot of games cluttering the market now, it still looks great.  Expect some flashy pre-rendered environments, real-time motion and doubtless top notch FMV cutscenes.

Ninja Gaiden is expected to be released this December for the Xbox.

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