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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Tecmo

 

Developer

Tecmo

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

September 2005

 

 

- Tons of gameplay hours to be had adventuring in an amazingly detailed and varied world
- One of the most beautiful video games to appear on not only the Xbox, but all current-generation consoles
- Spectacular array of ninja weaponry and moves

 

 

- Presents one of the most difficult challenges youíll ever face in trying to complete a video game
- Camera can get misaligned and out-of-place in regards to the gameplay at times

 

 

Review: Ninja Gaiden (XB)

Review: Otogi 2: Immortal Souls (XB)

Review: Shinobi (PS2)

Review: Red Ninja: End of Honor (XB)

 

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Ninja Gaiden Black

Score: 9.4 / 10

 

ninja gaiden black review          ninja gaiden black review

 

Your tools of the trade are razor-sharp swords, skull-crushing nunchakus and flesh-piercing shurikens. After mastering millenniums-old ancient fighting techniques, you become a deadly and stealthy killing machine. And, you get to wear a nifty black wardrobe. Yes, being a ninja has got to be one cool profession. Thereís been a fair share of ninja games highlighting the life of the mercenary assassins, including Shinobi and Tenchu. But the ultimate ninja game has to be Ninja Gaiden Black for the Xbox, which has tons of ninja weapons, fighting game-style moves to master, a hugely varied and expansive gaming world to explore, an extremely difficult challenge level, and just happens to be one of the best-looking games to come out on any current-generation console to date.

Ninja Gaiden Black isnít an entirely new game, because it really is just the original Ninja Gaiden Xbox title packed with the two Hurricane Packs that could be

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purchased online via Xbox Live. If youíve bought both Ninja Gaiden and each of the Hurricane Packs already, thereís not much new here. But for gamers such as me who didnít play Ninja Gaiden when it first came into the gaming realm, Ninja Gaiden Black is the perfect collection of the entire Ninja Gaiden experience.

Youíll take the cause of Ryu Hayabusa, the master ninja of the

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Hayabusa Ninja Clan with the slicing and dicing Dragon Sword, on his expedition to protect the evil Dark Dragon Blade, which transforms its possessor into the Devil Incarnate. Ryu is charged with the tasks of the Dragon Lineage, protectors of the Dragon Blade since ancient Japanese times. It is Ryuís responsibility to ensure that the Dragon Blade stays out of the wrong hands, and fight to the death to reclaim it if someone does somehow threaten to pilfer it. As you would expect, the swordís protection does get comprised by a malevolent force, so itís up to you as Ryu to defeat the denizens of evil and return it to its rightful place, away from those who would use its immeasurable power for malicious purposes.

The story honestly doesnít always make much sense, but you wonít really care, because youíre not playing Ninja Gaiden Black for the story. Itís the long and winding road filled with an army of enemies that youíll inflict devastating, buckets-of-blood-spewing ninja attacks on.

On your journey, youíll traverse plenty of different places, meeting people (and creatures) both willing to help you and willing to destroy you. Ninja Gaiden Black has a diverse range of environments, inside and outside: there are caves and caverns, mountain retreats, cities, small towns, even a flying dirigible ( indoor and outside). The sheer amount of places youíll visit on your fantastic adventure is one reason that Ninja Gaiden Black has so many gameplay hours packed inside. Expect it to take in the 20-30 hour neighborhood to complete your Ninja Gaiden Black lengthy venture, but the trip will definitely be a memorable one.


What probably is Ninja Gaidenís most rewarding and at the same time frustrating feature is the unbelievably hard challenge level. You can ďpickĒ your own difficulty level, and each contains its own nuanced set of features, but no matter what the challenge level (even the lowest difficulty level will be outrageously taxing), if you complete Ninja Gaiden Black, youíll know you deserved it, because as the game progresses, tougher and tougher enemies must be vanquished not to mention the bosses that will require you to engage in some of the biggest, most epic boss battles ever.

One aspect of the gameplay is on item collecting, including health, power, monetary, and weaponry items that will be needed to keep alive and fighting at your most peak performance. But itís the fighting aspect of Ninja Gaiden Black that reflects the best that the game has to offer.

 

ninja gaiden black review          ninja gaiden black review


Since Ninja Gaiden Black has been developed by the same minds that brought us the excellent Dead or Alive fighting game franchise, itís no surprise that Ninja Gaiden Black uses a fighting game-style multi-button-pushing move, attack and defense scheme to control Ryu during gameplay. By pushing the right combo of controller buttons, Ryu will pull off different moves that are determined not only by what buttons you press, but which one of the array of ninja weapons Ryu is currently holding. No matter what, many of the moves you unleash on enemies are simply spectacular in both their execution and their deadly results. You wonít just punch and kick your way through Ninja Gaiden Black. Youíll smash from beginning to end with the devastation of a 50-megaton bomb with smooth-animating, so-amazing-an-actual-ninja-would-be-jealous attacks.

In addition to the attacks, you will also control blocking defensive moves and general ninja movement, including climbing, running along walls, hanging, swimming, and wall clinging. Ninja Gaiden Black has left no ninja move behind.

As good as the gameplay is, what will absolutely impress is the drop-dead gorgeous graphical presentation of Ninja Gaiden Black. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful games ever created fore the current generation of consoles. The in-game visuals are rendered with sharp-as-a-Hattori-Hanzo-sword magnificence. The Particle effects that are displayed during battles from Ryuís powerful attacks are some of the best around, and short of Final Fantasy or World of WarCraft, the stunning cinematics are without peer. Your eyes will thank you for bombarding them with the artistic beauty of Ninja Gaiden Blackís graphical masterpiece. The only negative that will affect your visual delight during gameplay is the sometimes misplaced camera. It doesnít happen enough to consider it a flaw, but you will encounter camera schizophrenia at inopportune times on occasion while playing.

Unfortunately, Ninja Gaiden Black doesnít have any sort of online play, although you can upload your stats to a leaderboard and see how well youíve done against others based on your level scores. Thereís sadly nary an appearance of a co-op mode either, but considering the ninjaís more the solitary type, itís somehow understandable Ninja Gaiden Blackís a single-player-only game.

Prepare to be challenged like youíve never been challenged before to complete an action-adventure game. If you make it through Ninja Gaiden Black, be proud, because it definitely is one of the hardest games to complete that youíll ever play. Fortunately, the 20-30 hours gameplay journey is worth the blood, sweat and tears youíll shed, because Ninja Gaiden Black is truly one of the best games to ever grace the Xbox. Expect an excursion full of difficult trials and tribulations, but donít forget to enjoy the magnificently rendered scenery (as done by the true artistic geniuses at developer Team Ninja) while youíre mastering and using the powerful ninja moves that will be the key to surviving Ninja Gaiden Black.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(November 21, 2005)

 

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