When the Dark Dragon Blade is stolen and the Hyabusa village left in flames, ninja Ryu Hyabusa goes after the perpetrator, Doku, with a vengeance. He tracks the blade to the empire of Vigoor, and manages to sneak inside. But there, he discovers that there are darker forces at work, and that he must not only face the Vigoor military and Doku, but that Doku is a greater fiend, and that he must also face a legion of other fiends on his quest for vengeance and to take back the blade. He is assisted by Ayane, another ninja that stealthily assists him from the shadows, and Rachel, a fiend huntress trying to to kill the fiend that her sister turned into so that her sister’s soul may rest. This journey takes him deep below the city through the aqueducts, into ancient ruins resembling those of Egypt, and even other dimensions.
Ninja Gaiden has excellent combat. I wouldn’t say its the absolute best of any game ever (still prefer DMC3 as its less defensive) but its certainly up there. Its tight, it has a good amount of depth, its fast paced, it really feels like it tests your skills, and it has a reasonable amount of flash as well. The combat is the core of the game play, and it makes the game play overall in this game fantastic. The other core aspect of the game play is the platforming and navigation. There wasn’t much of it, but what there was wasn’t all that great. The running, jumping, swimming, etc. just didn’t handle all that well. Especially as compared to the combat where you feel completely in control. There weren’t many places where this was an issue, but where it was it was incredibly frustrating. Lastly, the camera was also a pain in the ass in a lot of places, and clearly needs fixing.
The game also has a pretty good sense of atmosphere. It may technically not hold up all that well, but the art style fits pretty well with what they’re going for and was creepy in a very diverse number of ways, though it all felt a bit rough around the edges. The soundtrack too was fit the various locations pretty well while still feeling overall pretty consistent. The character designs for the human characters and most of the fiends were mostly all pretty great as well. Good designs that weren’t over designed, but weren’t boring such as those simply imitating reality either. Weirdly enough the CG cut scenes looked worse than the main game, which I guess I would attribute to being a remaster of an Xbox game. The story itself was pretty weak though. Most every character was pretty generic, and there was a minimal level of development. The story overall was a bunch of cliches that didn’t particularly do anything amazing. However, while it was weak, it was good enough in respect to the overall game. It wasn’t too in your face about anything. It was mostly just there to add some style, substance, and atmosphere to the overall game, and provide structure for the game play to center around. From that respect it did its job I suppose, though I still wish there was something more.
A game with fantastic combat, but weak platforming, and a story that doesn’t really matter, but good atmosphere and style.