The legendary ninja Ryu Hayabusa is back in the palm of our hands, with Tecmo Koei and Team Ninja’s PlayStation Vita port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 simply titled Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 plus.
It is a straight port of the PlayStation 2 title which brought new features to the already successful but flawed release for the Xbox 360. It carried on Ryu’s unique set of abilities and brought us updated visuals, a more modern setting, new weapons, bigger and badder enemies and a relentless combat system that was a bit too much to bear for casual gamers.
CIA agent Sonia visits Hayabusa’s mentor, old man Muramasa looking to inform him about the imminent return of the Arch-Fiend. It’s not long before the Black Spider clan raid Muramasa’s shop and capture Sonia.
When Ryu returns to find he is too late to rescue her. Muramasa fills Ryu in which sets Ryu on his way to stop the Arch-Fiends resurrection and rescue Sonia. The story is more complex than that brought forward by short but sweet cut scenes and voice acting that isn’t bad but it’s nothing amazing.
Ryu is as badass and as care free as ever, which makes him a joy to play and the Sigma version allows control of fellow ninja Ayane giving the story more depth. The story in itself kept me playing wondering what was coming next and made the unrelenting gameplay worth battling through.
Ninja Gaiden has been renowned for its brilliant battle system and its high difficulty level however things have changed now thanks to the newly added “Hero” mode. What is new to Sigma 2 Plus is the fact that “hero” mode no longer automatically guards for the player, instead it makes decapitations easier to perform thus making enemies easier to defeat.
Ryu’s combos, attacks, special moves and Ninpo magic are all here fully intact and it feels just as good as it did the first time round. Combatting even the most generic of enemy requires careful thought, as enemies are intelligent and difficult to predetermine so button bashing is a definite no-no as you will be dead in seconds.
Luckily though Ryu’s health is refilled after battles, apart from any permanent damage that must be refilled by health pickups or save points scattered throughout the game world. The gameplay unfortunately is spoilt by the frustratingly terrible camera which ruins the whole experience and is by far the toughest battle in the entire game. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus doesn’t really utilise the Vita’s capabilities apart from using the rear touch pad to aim shurikens and arrows shot from the bow.
New to Sigma 2 Plus is the inclusion of “Ninja Race”, where players have to fight through a map full of enemies within a set time limit collecting essence from dead enemies to gain extra time. The other is Tag Mission is which the player has to eliminate specific enemies using the rear touch pads targeting system. Both are nothing more than tacked on game modes designed to increase replayability which may be good for veteran Ninja Gaiden fans but for casual gamers, they won’t really play these much.
On the Vita, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 plus looks as fantastic as it did the first time around, graphics on the characters and stages are nice and sharp and filled with detail, the action is fast, frantic, seriously entertaining and satisfying to watch. Bosses are just as tough looking and intimidating and some are huge screen fillers which look great on the Vita. Some cut backs on visuals have been made such as less blood and downscaled textures but these are easily forgiven if only we could see them through the awkward camera angles. Speaking of the camera, during the larger battles, the camera is low down and far behind making the action hard to see through foreground artefacts at times and the enemy hordes blocking the view, this led to many deaths and was seriously frustrating, perhaps a patch to fix this?
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus looks and feels superb on the PS Vita, no slow down and sharp visuals are perfectly ported however the overall experience is bogged down by the frustrating camera. It’s a constant battle throughout the entire game which is a shame considering the outstanding action that this game offers. The tacked on game modes are nothing but forgettable distractions from the superb story mode. A superb port of a classic game, minus the silly camera.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 plus
Developers: Team Ninja
Publishers: Tecmo Koei
Genre: Hack and Slash
Release date: 1st March 2013
Story – 4/5
Graphics – 3/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Overall – 3.5/5