Ninja Gaiden Σ Sigma Plus
: Team Ninja
: PlayStation Vita
: February 22, 2012
One of Team Ninjaís most favorable games for the PlayStation 3 gets a handheld port for the PlayStation Vita. Players take control of super ninja, Ryu Hayabusa, and the hack and slash, feel good gameplay of the original game doesnít take long to sink in. Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus also makes use of the Vitaís touchscreen, rear touch pad, and motion sensor features to make for a new experience in this rerelease.
In the Vigoor Empire, high atop the mountain peaks rests a ninja fortress and peaceful village. Ninja Ryu Hayabusa has come to infiltrate the Shadow clan fortress to speak with his uncle and fellow ninja, Murai. A familiar face, Ayane brings word that the Hayabusa village is being attacked. Ryu immediately makes his way to his village, only to find it in ruins.
Ryu soon encounters a dark ninja named Doku, who is responsible for committing the onslaught of Ryuís village. Doku has sought something of great importance, something that was kept under close watch of the shrine maiden, Kureha, before Doku struck her down. The object he desired was the Dark Dragon Blade. Confronting Doku, Ryu attempts to subdue his opponent but is felled by one stroke of Dokuís blade.
Believed to be dead, Ryu is awakened from death by a falcon, the spiritual animal of the Hayabusa clan. Now Ryu has become a soldier of vengeance and his mission to avenge his clan and acquire what was stolen from them.
Some elements of the game, mostly environmental aspects, tend to look a little choppy, not by much though. Itís understandable given that this is a port of game that has had three other rereleases. By far itís one of the best looking ports of the game yet. Team Ninja obviously takes pride in this game and they show that by fine tuning it with each port. The Vita port is the definitive version of the game yet and that is evident in the gameís full motion video.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus features a memorable voice cast. If youíve played any of the prior versions of the game, you should feel right at home with the familiarity of it all. In addition, the gameís soundtrack is something you would expect in a theatrical ninja movie in the same vein of this game. The game exudes that distinctive discipline of the way of the ninja with tranquil themes and melodies that evoke the tension of an ever-present, yet unseen danger. You may understand what Iím trying to say here, if the ninjas are your kind of thing. As always, itís best to play the game while wearing a good pair of headphones. The gameís action deserves it.
The frantic hack and slash gameplay of the original game still continues to be as satisfactory as ever. Now with the chance to take it on the go with you, slicing up bad guys hasnít been this fun. However, a word of warning to those who havenít played this game before: the game is difficult. Itís difficult but rewarding because, in essence, youíre actually taking the time to discipline yourself in the art of virtual combat. Very ninja-like, isnít it? That being said, you can still choose the difficulty you want to play before starting the game. I would highly recommend the easiest setting if youíre completely new to the game itself. After taking so much damage your health becomes critical and, at least on the easiest difficulty setting, the game will automatically block attacks for you.
Largely, the biggest complaint about Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, even way back to its original inception in 2004, was the shabby camera. Itís a shame when you get a good kill streak going, and if you happen to be in the wrong kind of place, the camera can freak out on you. It throws you off or can alter the outcome of your gameplay altogether. So this is something that couldíve used some looking into. In this era of gaming, a gameís camera is expected to perform spot on, but then you remember that this game is actually a port of an eight year old one. Another headache you may get with the game is wall running. The game seemed to have a hard time registering where I wanted to go based on how I tapped the analog stick. Either itís too sensitive or Iím mashing the analog stick too forcefully and not gently. Ultimately itís doable.
Given the questionable camera, one thing that counters that flaw is the use of the Vitaís hardware features. Well one of a ninjaís best offensive tactics is not always the sword, but projectile attacks too. Now aiming and throwing ninja stars, or shuriken, and arrows is easier than ever, not to mention faster. Tapping an enemy on the screen of the Vita will instantly send a volley of projectiles in their direction. The rear touch pad of the Vita controls Ninpo, or fireballs. The rear touch pad takes some getting used to as using a rear touch pad is quite foreign at the moment. Still, itís a fun feature to use in the game.
Aside from the gameís main story, there are plenty of ninja trials to keep you busy if you need a break from the story or just want to do something else entirely. There are 76 ninja trials in total and you can also compare scores with others if being top dog is your cup of tea. Other than that, there are plenty of weapons, items and alternate outfits that need finding.
Being the fourth rerelease in this specific series, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is definitely worth taking a look at if youíve got yourself a shiny, brand new Vita. If you havenít experienced this game at all, despite how many versions of the game there are, the Vita port is one worth picking up. While errors such as wall running and the weird camera can put a damper on gameplay at times, the gameís action is still top notch, and it looks great on the Vitaís large screen. The Vita is in its baby stage. You may be apprehensive about what to pick up for it, or you may already want something else to satisfy youíre hungry for something new for the Vita. Either way, give Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus a ďstab.Ē