Review: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus for Vita

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Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2+

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus
Price: $39.99
System(s): PS Vita
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Tecmo Koei (Team Ninja)
ESRB Rating: “Mature” for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity

The original Ninja Gaiden games were brutally difficult. However, they were still a great amount of fun despite that challenge. It’s a mixture that is surprisingly hard to balance and make work, but when it happens and works well, it’s magic. Though there were some missteps in the series to date, Ninja Gaiden has traditionally been a solid series. So, I was intrigued by Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus.

I wanted to see if it could retain the difficulty and fun of the earlier games, while also maintaining the graphic beauty of more recent installments. I also wanted to see how well Team Ninja did with porting Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 to a handheld. After all, that’s exactly what Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus is, an almost exact copy of the PS3 game. Well, the result, while being generally good, is a pretty mixed bag.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus

Globe-hopping to halt chaos.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus‘s story is a good one and an exact port of the console version’s story. The Spider Clan has being working with the Archfiends and other forces of the Underworld. Ryu Hayabusa and his female companions go jump from Tokyo and a Dragon Clan village to New York City and Venice, among other locations, to stop the Archfiend from being freed. This also means stopping the flow of chaos into our world.

The storytelling is just as good as on the Vita as it was on the PS3. The world and conflict is pretty well realized. The animation is beautifully done. Even more important, the balance between difficulty and entertainment is preserved. The Sigma series and its Vita ports generally fix what a lot of players and critics thought was wrong with Ninja Gaiden games, from graphics to gameplay issues. Things both look and run better. Plus the new “Ninja Race” mode adds some replayability to the game. But even with the good, not all is well in the land of the ninja.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus

Yet, the path of the ninja is a bumpy one

One problem is that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, although beautifully rendered, is prone to frame rate drops. In some cases, it is almost reasonable. If there’s a lot of action, the frame rate is going to drop. However, I occasionally ran into this issue when there was nothing happening.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus‘s camera is problematic as well. I found myself needing to fight it, so I could see what I needed to see. This led to a lot of unintentional and undeserved deaths in combat, missing targets for jumps or throws and also needing to backtrack to the start of certain obstacles.

Then there were the Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus combat issues. For example, even when focused on an enemy, sometimes the playable character switched targets without warning. This can, and did, lead to many more deaths. The most troubling problem was when my character would get stuck in parts of the environment until I changed my weapon. I got stuck in/near walls, pillars and other forms of architecture, often in the midst of battle. This made me unable to hit enemies, but didn’t stop them from hitting me. Which lead to my character dying some more. It seems like that especially should have be caught and fixed during testing.

The voice acting is flawed as well. The only time that it actually fits are when Ryu and his fellow Ninja are in America, though even then the accents weren’t regionally accurate. There’s no variations in accents with the voice acting at all, even though the story takes place in at least four countries. It’s very uninspired and lazy.

Lastly, the levels for the female playable characters in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus feel tacked on. They aren’t bad, but it feels like filler. I was going through roughly the same spaces that I just went through with Ryu, for fairly similar reasons. For example, Momiji’s level has her going through Tokyo, the first level of the game, looking for a character whose life is in danger. For Ayane, it’s Venice and much like Ryu’s, she’s searching for a relic that might be in the hands of a fiend. Those levels could have been given a greater purpose, rather than being an excuse to bring in curvy animated women.

ninja gaiden sigma 2 plus 1

Portable is only an option when console is unavailable.

I wanted to love Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus, but there are so many issues that muck up the game. It’s good, but there is too much wrong to warrant an enthusiastic referral. The story offers no new, additional content, though what is there does a good job of continuing Ryu’s saga. There are no cooperative opportunities for multiplayer fans. Some of the ports more technical aspects feel as though they were handled improperly. I couldn’t help thinking a lot of the gripes could’ve easily been caught during testing. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus could be a better product than it was.

Even with the flaws, I would say Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Plus is still worth the money. Specifically, it’s worth the money if you don’t own the PS3 version. If you have the PS3 version, save your money.

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