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Thread: Game Review: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword (DS)

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    DCEmu Reviewer Shadowblind's Avatar
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    NDS Game Review: Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword (DS)

    Because Ninja Gaiden on DS = Awesomeness. At least the idea does.

    Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword
    Publisher: Tecmo
    Developer: Team Ninja
    Genre: Action
    ESRP: $39.99

    Ninja Gaiden Lite.

    Once again, you must take up the role of famed ninja Ryu Hayabusa, one of the last remaining of the Dragon Lineage. The Greater fiends plot to envelope the world in darkness and chaos, and Ryu is the world's last hope.(again.) Fight through a multitude of levels from tombs to volcanos as you battle to stop the fiend's ambitions.

    A Ninja's story. Rated PG.
    Ninja Gaiden isn't known for its amazingly in-depth storylines, or just about anything pertaining to the story. Rather, its known by its console versions for having absurd stories, that are often so wacky that they become good. Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword isn't so easy to classify. Unlike the console versions Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is aimed at the younger age group, obviously in response to the DS main customers. This means that the story won't be bloody, or nasty, or violent, or erotic, or whatever the normal Ninja Gaidens tend to do. Bare in mind though, that this isn't necessarily bad. The story itself isn't near as random as the other NGs, and its character design shows a good bit of cartoon influence. The characters each look as though they came out of an anime rather then the normal getting-to-realism look that Team Ninja primarily does. Still, some of the story is linear and you-saw-that-coming-miles-away, often during parts that are supposed to surprise you. As far as a 6-14 year olds game goes, though, the story is perfectly fitting. Cartoony characters combines with the classic 'caring' hero(I'll be honest with you. I do NOT see Ryu Hayabusa caring about pretty much anything but his duties. This game thinks otherwise.) with, while its still a bit unique, a linear and stereotypical story makes for a very well marketed NDS game.

    Again--damn, Ninjas look good
    Dragon Sword did for the DS what Team Ninja does for just about every console and game--created great looking character models with very fluent animations. Ryu looks spectacular, and even in his fast flurry of attacks you can see some very nice animation if you look closely enough.(Animation in a game has always been my favorite graphical part. If animation looks crappy, Enemies are a bit different. While still sporting some decent looking Character models, compared to Ryu, Momijii and the bosses, they don't look as good. Mainly spider-ninjas and ware-wolves, but all around they do still look nice. Just not great. Enemy animations are still in tact though, as you can relate each one to its root animations in Ninja Gaiden Xbox. Most, anyway. Backgrounds are diverse and colorful, but interaction is non-existent. Unless there is a puzzle or a door, there is zero interaction with the environment. The freestyle running of the Ninja Gaidens has been taken out. There is a reason for this though. The backgrounds look 3D, but don't be too fooled, too fast. Most backgrounds, with a few exceptions, are fully 2D textures. That doesn't stop them from LOOKING 3D though, and to this day, the look has always been what matters most, not the technical ideas in place. As for technical stuff, even in the biggest battles I have never experienced a framerate drop. Clipping is very rare, and the whole engine is rather solid. Seems most DS game engines are that I've played. Ninpo effects are actually sprites(most of them), but they all look well done, and do give you the feeling that you have a little control over nature itself.

    Insert Rocky Balboa Music here.

    Ninja Gaiden Black, sound off
    Sound. The music mostly consists only of music from the original NG. Some lighter hearted songs were added in, probably because of the games younger audience. These are mainly in the Hayabusa village and other non-action parts of the game. But lets get something straight--it may be recycled, but that doesn't mean its all too bad. Annoying to my nerves, simply because I've played NG black before, but to most, it will seem like a decent and well placed soundtrack. Nothing amazing, but it certainly works for what it does. Sound effects also have been recycled, but there are a good bit of new ones in there. All dialogue is text; no voice acting. While it may be a shame to have no voice acting considering the job of the voice actors in the first NG it may or may not be so bad. You decide.

    Young Ryu? Nope. Nintendo Ryu.

    A furious fighting action title
    To let out a summery of whats to come: This game rocks. Gameplay. The core gameplay is just like the console NGs, i.e., slashing bashing and dicing enemies, while enjoying some light platforming puzzles. One may thing at first that Ninja Gaiden, being a usual button-masher game wouldn't fit well at all on the DS. Errrrr. The touch screen was made for these kinds of games. Unlike the normal NGs, Dragon sword has you play with only one hand. You hold the DS like you would a book, and use the touch screen vertically. To attack opponents you merely need to slash them with your stylus. Though it isn't that simple. Certain stylus movements string certain combos, and this game has combos aplenty. Despite having only one melee weapon, the Dragon Sword(I know, I know. I really wanted the Vigoorian Flails in there too.) there are multitudes of combos to pull off, including fan favorites such as the Izuna drop and the Flying Swallow. Buying upgrades for the sword and some extra combo scrolls boost the amount of attacks you can do. The only real annoyance with the combat system is to block you must press a button, often the left bumper where your other hand will be. But to roll, you have to touch a part on the screen, often making Ryu roll in the wrong direction. Besides that minor problem, the melee combat is one of the best on DS, though they really missed out without multiple melee weapons. Like past NG games, you also have ranged weapons, such as the bow and shurikan. Except this time, neither is useless and neither is boring. Simply tap the part of the screen you with to throw/shoot your weapon. Yes thats right, shurikan doesn't suck this time around.(Yeah I know, right?) Ninpo magic is like Ninpo on steroids. You can (and always do) take out many enemies with each massive ninpo you use, and there is a wide variety of element based magics in this game. Not all is good though. At most you can only use Ninpo one time before you must find another dragon statue to recharge it. About the dragon statues. They save, give you full health, and recharge your ninpo. However, in this game you can do that an infinite amount of times. Enemy combat is like watered down Ninja Gaiden. Nowhere near as hard, the enemies pose little threat until about chapter 6, where it starts to build up in difficulty. Even though it gets a bit challenging later on, by comparison this game has nothing on its console brothers in the way of difficulty. Enemies still do have cheap grab attacks, as per usual. Boss battles are linear, but fun. As conclusion to this paragraph, I'd say its probably one of the best DS action title I've ever played.

    Bosses are big and scary, but they're generally pushovers.

    2 Ninjas, 2 play-throughs. Maybe?
    After you beat the game, you get hard mode, which you won't beat. You also get some art. Finding all the Purple birds may be an addicting challenge. Momijji's campaign is fun, but short. Even Ryu's campaign is rather short, take only about 5-8 hours to beat, depending on how thorough you are. This game will last you a good time, but its not exactly the kinda of the the others were, where you had a huge multitude of unlockables. Trade it in after your done, but not until you DONE done.


    Major Selling Points:
    -- Fast and furious Ninja Action
    -- Looks great, good design
    -- Authentic Ninja Gaiden experience(unlike Sigma. You know why.)
    -- Endearing, if wacky, story

    Major breaking Points:
    -- May prove not difficult enough
    -- Only a single melee weapon
    -- Watered down Ninja Gaiden 2

    Story: 3.5/5
    Really not too bad. It does have some overly linear plot developments though, and is aimed mainly on the younger crowd.

    Graphics: 4.5/5
    Spectacular characters and design. Backgrounds look good, which really matter. Interaction doesn't exist.

    Sound: 4/5
    Its recycled Ninja Gaiden, sure. So?

    Gameplay: 4.5/5
    A great, authentic Ninja Gaiden experience. Deep hack and slash fighting, and some light puzzles.

    Replayability: 3.5/5
    There really is little to do after the first play through. The second campaign some may want to do though.

    Value: 4/5
    $40 may be a bit steep, but this is one of the DS finest. At least deserves a rent. And yes, Blockbuster does rent out NDS games.


    It may be Ninja Gaiden Lite, but the touch screen works something great, and all the ideas of NG are in tact. A great action game on DS; easily one of the best.

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