Are you guys excited for a handheld port of a game that was released 4 years ago? I sure am. I’m a very huge fan of the first Ninja Gaiden game, and while I never actually completed it due to the game’s difficulty and my 12 year old self being a big baby, it remains one of my favorite action games. Team Ninja’s latest release, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, is a faithful continuation of the series if you’re looking for a Ninja Gaiden game to take on the go and willing to overlook a few technical issues that arise due to hardware limitations of the Vita.
The plot has as much depth as you would expect from a Ninja Gaiden game. To sum it up, bad guys are trying to resurrect the Archfiend from the first game, and then they succeed in doing so and you wind up fighting the Archfiend again as the last boss. That’s about it, but it’s not a big deal because you’re here to kill monsters and not read Shakespearean novels, right?
The gameplay is very fluid, as you would want from an action game. Combos translate seamlessly as you cut through the hordes of ninjas and monsters that the game throws at you. With a plethora of weapons available to you ranging from the default Dragon Sword to the Enma’s Fang, a new greatsword, the game offers a lot of variety for combat. The weapon you choose will alter your playstyle as a result of each weapon having different combos and swing speeds. A few projectile weapons, such as incendiary shurikens as well as my beloved Windmill Shuriken, were removed from the game due to the new infinite ammo system, but I can live with that. The game succeeds in making you feel like a ninja.
Veterans of the first game will appreciate a lot of the combos in the first game being unlocked right off the bat, such as the Izuna Drop, which I remember spamming constantly after I unlocked it the first time. Bosses are very enjoyable to fight and require quick reflexes on the user’s part, never devolving into QTE fests either. The game even has five new additions compared to Ninja Gaiden 2 on the 360, all of which are as tough as the bosses in the core game. The game is fairly difficult even on normal, which I am glad to see. It isn’t as hard as the first Ninja Gaiden, but I appreciate Team Ninja for not dumbing down the game too much.
The Vita takes advantage of the touch screen for swapping to the bow, where you tap the screen to change from melee to bow. This isn’t a huge feature, but it is a nice quality of life change for when you’re required to switch to the bow. You generally won’t be using it much as the melee combat is infinitely more satisfying than shooting dinky arrows at people.
A couple new game modes are added to Sigma 2 Plus that are absent in Sigma 2. Ninja Race has the player attempting to complete a level as quickly as possible, akin to time trial game modes in most games. Another game mode added is called Tag Mode. Essentially, you run through short levels with a partner who is A.I. controlled with the ability of switching between characters if the player wants to. It’s unfortunate that there is no multiplayer in this game because I feel that the game mode would be fun with friends.
Though minimal, the addition of gore is satisfying. In Sigma 2, gore would be replaced by enemies exploding into a purple mist, and dismembered body parts would immediately disappear. This time around, blood can clearly be seen spurting out of bodies when heads and limbs are chopped off. It makes the game feel more visceral and fun, because there should be blood all over the place, especially in a hack-and-slash game.
As enjoyable as the game is, what really hinders the game’s potential is the abundance of framerate drops. As a result of the hardware limitations of both the PS3 and Vita, the number of enemies that appear on the screen is lowered in comparison to the 360. To compensate for this, enemies tend to have much larger health pools. Frame, but the issue is still prevalent on the Vita. There are many times where I’ll kill four ninjas/monsters, and the blood splatter from doing so will drop my FPS noticeably. In addition to that, when entering an open area such as a courtyard, the FPS will drop while a large number of enemies attempt to kill me. This is an issue problem because I need the game to run as smooth as possible, especially since the game relies on reaction times and user input.
If you’re looking for a hack and slash to play on the Vita, then Sigma Plus 2 is right up your alley if you can deal with the frame rate drops. I was unable to handle it, so I would much rather play the PS3 version, but hey, you might be able to play through it just fine. If anything, buying the PS3 version might be a much better deal, since it would not be as expensive. There isn’t really enough new content in the Vita version compared to the PS3 version to justify purchasing it unless you are either a diehard Ninja Gaiden fan or you really want to play the game on the Vita.
- Seamless combat
- Difficulty isn’t dumbed down
- Adequate port
- Enjoyable bosses
- FPS drops really take you out of the game
Available on: Vita; Publisher: Tecmo Koei; Developer: Team Ninja; Players: 1; Released: February 26, 2013; ESRB: M; MSRP: $39.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.