jtb123's Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (Nintendo DS) review

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Ninja Gaiden in the palm of your hand.

 Ninja Gaiden Dragon Sword Review

This was my first experience using a DS. I am huge fan of the Ninja Gaiden series and had wanted to try this out for ages. I can safely say that if you’re a fan of Ninja Gaiden you will enjoy this, albeit in slightly stripped down form this is the closest thing to having Ninja Gaiden in the palm of your hand. The biggest show stopper is the controls, they are just perfect; everything is controlled with the stylus. While this doesn’t offer the same skill based gameplay as its console counter parts (for obvious reasons) it accurately mimics the gameplay for the platform.

NGDS is set after the events of the original Ninja Gaiden, once again the black spider ninjas are up to no good and Ryu Hayabusa is the only one who can stop them. You’ll visit various locations from the first game and fight against a number of the same enemies (including the ghost fish). There are a few new enemies and locations added in but for the most part you’ll see a lot of familiar things.

As aforementioned, NGDS is controlled entirely with the stylus. You touch the screen where you want Ryu to go and depending on the distance he will run or walk. Swipe it upwards and he jump and you cast ninpo by essentially colouring a symbol then control it with the stylus. Attacking enemies is controlled by which direction you swipe at enemies, combining these will result in the most powerful combos. It is difficult to convey the responsiveness and smoothness of the controls, they have to be experienced in order to fully comprehend their quality.

As with every Ninja Gaiden the action is where the fun lies, there is simply no other game like this on the DS. Fighting in this game requires the same precision as any other NG game. However, due to the nature and limitations of the platform there are a few things that can get annoying. Your stylus inputs are easily mistaken for different ones and you cannot cancel out of combos as quickly as you could on the original Ninja Gaiden. This becomes increasingly annoying when fighting the games tougher enemies. The fixed camera can be frustrating at times too, when fighting near the top or bottom of the screen you have very little room to manoeuvre your stylus properly due to the characters being so small. These are the only real problems NGDS has in terms of its gameplay, and taking into account everything else it does right, they’re pretty easy to forgive.

NGDS does lack replay value however, the two problems regarding the gameplay become extremely apparent when playing the higher modes and can make them rather cheap. Something the original Ninja Gaiden never did, there are no extra modes present here either.

Overall NGDS offers a very similar experience to what Ninja Gaiden offers; a fun and very challenging gaming experience. Obviously, some things have been sacrificed to bring the game to the DS, like only having one weapon and a shorter length and very little exploring. However, having Ninja Gaiden on a portable platform (and making it a worthy entry) is something many thought impossible. This game speaks volumes for the talents of the people that created it and if you have a DS, there is simply no reason you shouldn’t play this game.  

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