vatterott's Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (Nintendo DS) review

Lots of Fiends.

NINJA GAIDEN DRAGON SWORD

Pros:
-Gorgeous graphics
-Great sound
-Awesome boss battles
-Controls work very well
-Gameplay is always fun
-Well rounded
-Cut scenes are some of the best on the DS

Cons:
-Relatively brief
-Can get repetitive
-Sometimes get pixilated look
-No multiplayer whatsoever

Ninja Gaiden is an action game for the Nintendo DS. The DS is held like a book, and all controls are on the touch screen, except for blocking. The story begins with Ryu Hayabusa, the last of the Dragon Lineage. It is six months after the Dark Dragon Blade incident, and Hayabusa village seems peaceful, but when evil fiends attack, Ryu is pushed into another battle for the sake of his people.

Ninja Gaiden excels in so many areas. The gameplay is always intense. While there is a small variety of enemies (Archers, axe wielders, even a Cyclopes), by the end of a chapter, those fiends are getting close to the expiration date. Ninpo (Magic, such as a flaming ball) really adds some strategy to the fights. It's not just scribbling, you really have to think (and quickly!) about what moves and when. Occasionally the game would slow down if there were a lot of enemies on screen, but that does not happen very often. The game itself is fairly easy, except for some boss battles. The battles are usually pretty fun. Three or four were beatable in one try, while the others required a few, or a lot more.

There is also some strategy to purchasing items. Upgrades and new Ninpo can be purchased for Essence, little golden orbs that are given off by defeated enemies. Essence can be the healing kind, or can replenish your Ninpo. Greater amounts of Essence can be earned by doing the Ultimate Technique.

The controls work really well. While the whole touch screen thing has been done before (a la Phantom Hourglass), it works great. Jumping and moving is a breeze, and slashing as well. The controls don't induce wrist pain, too.

Gameplay: 9.5/10

Ninja Gaiden looks great. The environments are 2d, but characters and enemies are in full three dimensions. Boss arenas are also in 3d. When characters move to the back of the level they get tiny and a pixilated look. This does happen quite a bit, but can be avoided as long as you stay up close. All the enemies look detailed, and just plain great. When the action gets intense, Ninja Gaiden remains as gorgeous as ever. Little details that keep the game looking great are tossed in. Things like blue slash marks and purple portals where enemies pop up add to the already fantastic visuals.

Graphics: 9/10

Dragon Sword's audio portion is sweet. The sound of shurikens and blades flying makes the game sound really cool. The music keeps the game in a certain mood, but gets the heart pumping during intense battles. Ryu's slashing and yells make good, too. Like the graphics, it's these little inserts that make the game great. The sound never slows during intense gameplay, either. Sometimes the sounds do get repetitive, though that occurrence is slightly rare. A surround sound setting also brings out the sound content of this game.

Sound: 9.5/10

Dragon Sword's biggest flaw is its value. The story (on normal) can be beaten within 8 hours, and there isn't much of a reason to go back. There is a chunk of unlockables. None of them consist of mini games or anything. The game is a lot of fun to play, so hopefully you'll be going back. There are multiple difficulties after normal, and with those there are more secrets to unlock. An additional 4 hours would make the game worthwhile. If you don't have the money) don't want to spend $35 on 7 hours), but still want this game, ask for it as a gift. The gameplay really does help to compensate for the low value.

No multiplayer or trading or anything is available. You can post your scores online, and if you want to conquer the leader boards, this is the game to try it on.

Value: 6/10

Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword is the best action game for the DS, but with one big flaw.

Overall: 8.5 Out of 10

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