If you’re a fan of ninja games, PS Vita won’t leave you wanting – or waiting. The system’s upcoming launch will be supported by two ninja-centric titles: Shinobido 2 and Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, and I spent some time with the latter this weekend. NGS+ is an updated version of an early PS3 title, which itself was an enhanced version of an original Xbox game that debuted back in 2004. Despite some control choices which have clearly evolved over the past 8 years, the source material holds up pretty well in 2012.
Playing through the first few levels of the NGS+, memories from nearly a decade ago came flooding back to me: the placement of treasures, decapitating enemies with a single charged slash (hold down the triangle button to, um, execute), and the difficulty. The Ninja Gaiden series resides firmly in the “tough, but fair” challenge department. When you die – and you will – it’s usually not due to AI cheapness, but rather a mistimed block or a delayed dodge. That doesn’t mean the game can’t get frustrating, but when you prevail, the frustration melts into delicious satisfaction. For those having trouble, NGS+ adds Hero Mode, which helps automates some blocking and dodging to help you along. There’s no shame in it.
Earlier this week, Team Ninja set up a temporary dojo in San Francisco to share news and game time with Ninja Gaiden 3 and Dead or Alive 5 on the PlayStation 3. Of particular note was the first hands-on demo of Ninja Gaiden 3’s multiplayer offering in the form of 4v4 Team Deathmatch and Battle Royale modes. It’s a bold move to add a competitive multiplayer mode to a melee-based action game, and I struggled to think of a comparable product out there; it definitely stands on its own in the action genre. My favorite touch: when struck by a deathblow, you can fight off your attacker by mashing the buttons, and then choose to “die with honor” via seppuku.
After a lengthy playtest, we were granted some face-to-face time with the team’s Head Ninja, Yosuke Hayashi. Here we chat PlayStation Move support in NG3, working on the Vita, and how many actual ninja are on Team Ninja: