|Except for this fucker. How much hair do I have left on my head?|
Which bring us to our main point.... Ninja Gaiden.
|On my save game he's died at least 1,000 times.|
NES - Ninja Gaiden
Are you scared? I know I am.
This was one of the first games to really raise the hair on my neck. The first opening scene with Ryu's father dueling off against some other ninja is fucking awesome, and to this day it's epic. The gameplay for the time was pretty damn solid as well. Ryu can jump and grab onto walls, throw shurikens and other powerups like fire, and a giant shuriken that boomerangs back to Ryu. All these abilities cost points to use, which are collected throughout levels. That's part of why these games are HOLY SHIT I JUST PUNCHED TEN HOLES IN MY WALL AND MY CONTROLLER IS BROKEN hard. Part of the reason is the game's mechanics.
Like every damn platforming game on the NES, you get hit, you fly back. This game's levels incorporate a heavy use of climbing up walls, and jumping over chasms. That means at any time while casually flipping over a huge gap into death, a fucking BIRD of all things can come out of nowhere and knock you into the pit! What the fuck!
|Ninjas went down a tad on the badass meter because of these damn birds.|
|YOU SHALL NOT PASS|
Also, each level has a boss that can range from stupidly easy (stand there and hack away while whistling) to brutally hard (running frantically everywhere holy fuck this guy is hard!!!!!) Add to all the magic one of the best soundtracks of all time, and you have a pretty great game. This is just the first game by the way. Tecmo made TWO more on the NES.
NES - Ninja Gaiden II - The Dark Sword of Chaos
|One of the many badass scenes from the game.|
|Save for some scenes. Ryu looks like he's getting felatio. Ninja felatio.|
NES - Ninja Gaiden III - You Will Never Beat This Ga-*urm ahem* I mean, The Ancient Ship of Doom.
You know, I wouldn't mind if they named the third installment that, because it's true. All my friends played this game back when it was released, and no one beat the third stage. NO ONE. To this day, I have yet to see the fourth stage.
|HEY! OH OH OH! I KNOW THAT ONE!|
After this, and a minor game boy release of Ninja Gaiden Shadow, the series went into a hiatus for quite a long time. Probably because Tecmo got tired of torturing people, and instead got better at making boobies jiggle for almost no apparent reason other than to tease every pre-pubescent kid into having their first boners.
Don't believe me? Watch this:
Or maybe you need more proof? There's Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball. I won't lie, I bought it when I was about 12 years old, and all my friends were jealous. I got to see rendered boobies and they didn't!
Then, there was a game that upped the ante. A game that made my heart sink and fear rise. A game that was just way too fucking awesome that it made you ignore that it was also too fucking frustrating.
XBOX/PS3 - Ninja Gaiden/Ninja Gaiden Black/Ninja Gaiden Sigma/Ninja Gaiden Awesome!
I love this game for many reasons. It has a pretty cool story, although it can get a little ridiculous at times. It's a LONG game by any standard. It's fun as all hell, albeit almost too difficult to make you play it all night. The graphics were ahead of anything at the time, and the FMVs are fucking badass.
|I've come to stop your reign of dickheadedness. You really need to stop setting everything on fire. Dick.|
The best part about the game is the fighting. It's all real time awesomeness, and it rivals Devil May Cry. Ryu gets new weapons as he progresses, each having their own upgradeable levels which in turn grant Ryu more combo possibilities and harder, punishing moves to use on his enemies. It's one of the funnest games I've ever played. Killing enemies to get essense which can either grant you health, more magic, or money is a great system and works. You can also use essense to charge an attack known as the Ultimate Technique faster. This is basically an attack that clears the whole room and looks amazing as well. It's also different for each weapon.
There's also a magic system called Ninpo. Basically, Ryu is able to obtain a number of scrolls that enable certain magics to be used. For instance, the Art of the Fire Wheels is a spell that sends 4 little fire balls to protect Ryu. Each time a spell is used, your Ki bar is reduced by one. You can get more uses by finding certain items, and you can also make Ryu's health bar longer by finding whole sets of what's called The Life of the Gods, or by finding them seperate and putting them together.
This gives the player incentive to explore, which is quickly crushed by the relentlessness of the game. Seriously, why are the enemies SO CHEAP?! Even on the first level, you will die repeatedly. Not only are you incredibly weak, but you are always outnumbered by cheap foes who use cheap tactics. And they don't use them sparingly...
In this video, we get to the first boss, who spams the same attack every time he gets near, and always has two henchmen throwing exploding shurikens at you. Granted, this is on the hardest difficulty the game offers, but even on Easy your going to die a lot before you beat this fucker. And that's just the first boss! Can you imagine the later bosses?
Hang on for a second, fuck the bosses. Let's talk about the enemies you encounter later on. Fiends as their called, these big dragon looking things are nasty... they take a TON of hits, have like 5 different attacks they can use on you at random, each take away half your health bar mind you, and they usually come in 3s. That's 3 times the buttfucking you're going to receive every time you die and have to go back to the last save point. Then the game throws Ghost Fish at you. As if we weren't annoyed enough. These fucking things are the reason I've broken so many Xbox controllers back in the day.
Imagine you're going through a level. You haven't saved since the last save point at the beginning of the level, and you've been playing for at least a half hour since then. You have almost no health, no healing items, but you find a chest. Frantically you run your ninja ass over and open the thing in record time, ready to receive your potion or health essense. Instead, tons of ghost fish appear and proceed to kill you in less time it took to open the damn chest!
These fucking things.... They wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for how fast they attack and without warning! They could be facing the opposite direction, and suddenly they go Jaws on your ass and take out half your health bar. That's not an exaggeration. They seriously latch on, and take out massive amounts of health. And the worst part is, at that point in the game, your life bar is so long and epic it might as well have it's own game, and these fucking FISH wipe it out in a mere 5 seconds!!!!!
Seriously. Read any FAQ on the internet for Ninja Gaiden and I guarantee every one mentions how annoying and cheap these fucking beasts are.
Ninja Gaiden may be hard, but it is absurdly fun and rewarding. Beating the game unlocks missions to do, and harder difficulties, as if the game needed to be harder in the first place. It's pretty atmospheric, especially later on. There are a ton of cool weapons to collect and use, and techniques to master. And I mean it when I say master.
Most people will say that video games require no skill, but Ninja Gaiden does. It almost commands you to learn how to play it. Think you can go all Kingdom Hearts II and button mash your way through? I DON'T FUCKING THINK SO.
That goes double for the bosses. They all require skill and strategy. Actually, the whole game requires it. You will learn to block because if you don't, you're going to die twice as much as you are now. You will learn what combos dispatch foes the best because if you don't, you're going to have a hard time getting past the game's first enemies, let alone getting to a new stage!
Speaking of stages, the game has them in spades, and they're pretty awesome. One in particular is the Tomb on the Eons, an underground tomb where you fight undead hordes that wield maces and bows, then face a thousand year old dragon skeleton who's 50 times bigger than you. It's all pretty cool, save for a few moments of cheapness. For example, in that same level, you have to go up a huge spiral path. Any fall means death. There's a section that requires jumping to platforms to continue upwards. Sounds easy enough right?
Haven't you gotten used to this by now? Easy doesn't exist in Ninja Gaiden! While hopping to these platforms, you have undead archers shooting you. You get hit, you fly back. You fly back over the edge, it's back to the last save point! The game is filled with moments of cheapness like this, and you're going to have to replay them over, and over, and over, and over....
|...and over, and over, and over, and over...|
|How does she even move around? Those things have to weigh a ton.|
Xbox 360/PS3 - Ninja Gaiden II
I'm not even going to write out a lengthy paragraph for this game. It's the same as the first, only better graphics, new weapons (and some old ones), and a ton of cool new moves. I find this game to be inferior to NGB, because whereas strategy and skill was key to winning in NGB, luck is more important this time around. The bosses are forgetful, and way cheaper too. They have patterns, but exploiting them seems almost impossible without taking damage. Even on the most minor attacks from these bosses, you're going to get hit after you get your rounds in. It's bullshit when luck dictates whether I win or lose.
Atmospherically, it's gorgeous. You'll be hacking limbs off in dense jungles, dungeons, and other realms this time around. Thanks to the Obliteration Technique as the game calls it, once an enemy has lost a limb, pressing Y will make Ryu finish them off in a variety of bloody ways. It looks awesome, and painful. It's also very gory.
|Um, who said ninjas are subtle again?|
The only other improvements from NGB is having chargeable projectiles, cooler moves, and better Ninpo. Other than that, the game lacks in decent pacing, and has the most throwaway story ever. At least NGB had back story, villains, and other characters in the story. Ninja Gaiden II throws bosses at you and tells you to kill them or the world will end. It's lackluster, but the action makes up for it most of the time.
In the end (heh), Ninja Gaiden is one of my favorite franchises. It's definitely one of the most badass series I've ever played. The later games reward you so well that you'll want to keep playing despite the difficulty that seems to constantly rise. Speaking of rising, my blood pressure is abnormally high. That's what these games do to you. You will hate them every step of the way, until you win. Then it's love at that point baby.
There's a new Ninja Gaiden out, but I've yet to play it. It has multiplayer that looks pretty awesome. Who doesn't want to pummel their friends online as ninjas?! NINJAS!! Ninjas are awesome! I'll pick it up when it's in the bargain bin, since I haven't really read any good about it, but I may be wrong. I will get my revenge (!) on the NES games one day, but for now I'll be looking for a way to attach all my hair back on my head.
I hope someone caught that reference at the end. *hint hint*
I'm currently playing through Ninja Gaiden Black again, and losing sanity as we speak. Stay tuned for more articles!